Healthier swaps for corn

Healthier swaps for corn

It’s pretty amazing: The average American eats 98 pounds of corn every year – mostly from corn-derived ingredients in food along with 42 pounds of corn syrup.  (42 pounds!!!)

Why is that bad news? Modern corn is such a genetically modified Frankenfood that it’s hard for our bodies to digest. Plus, its sugars are now so concentrated that it spikes your blood sugar like crazy, which shuts off your metabolism like a light switch, making it harder for your body to burn fat — in fact, corn can MAKE you fat.

Up to our ears in corn and corn syrup

From The Fast Metabolism Diet: “I have many actor clients, and occasionally one will ask me to help him or her gain weight for a part in a movie, when they need to look chubby. Corn is one of my best tricks.” — Haylie Pomroy

Corn is everywhere—and it’s making you fat.  It’s what farmers use to fatten pigs and cattle—not exactly the look we’re going for. Even if you don’t pig out on Doritos, you’re probably getting “sneaky corn” in the form of corn-based fillers added to packaged foods, along with corn syrup that seems to be in everything. In fact, 93% of the beef in a fast-food burger is actually derived from corn (thanks to all the corn the cattle eat)—and when we eat that, we build our bodies out of corn, too.

We’re like corn chips walking,” says Todd Dawson, a University of California-Berkeley scientist. Even health nuts aren’t safe: Dawson tested a hair from CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta for corn’s carbon marker. Sixty-nine percent of Gupta’s carbon came from corn.

Corn lurks in everything from baby formula to frozen pizza, usually under assumed names. Luckily, once you have a little knowledge, it’s easy to avoid corn-derived foods and ingredients, and make more healthful substitutions.


These hit your body with a double whammy—corn plus sugar, another metabolism-killer. Corn syrup, dextrin, maltodextrin, dextrose, glucose, fructose, and invert sugar all come from corn. They lurk in all kinds of processed foods—and not just sodas and sweets, either. Check the labels on your bread, cold cuts, canned soup, processed cheese, ketchup, cereal, yogurt, nuts …pretty much everything.

Better bets: Go for whole, unprocessed foods like raw nuts and fresh meats—these won’t contain unnecessary corn sweeteners. You can get sweetener-free versions of things like ketchup, too.

ŸOils and fake fats

Corn oil is obviously derived from corn, but vegetable oil, margarine, and shortening also may contain corn oil, plus a bunch of other metabolism-busters like soy and hydrogenated fats. Basically, you really don’t want to eat these. Skip fast food and processed foods, which are typically drowned in corn fat.

Better bets: Use olive, grapeseed, sesame, and coconut oils for cooking.


Cornstarch, modified starch, or just “starch” on an ingredient list—all come from corn. Manufacturers sneak these into cold cuts, yogurt, soups, sweets, condiments, pre-shredded cheese, and pre-seasoned meat.

Better bets: Go for natural meats, yogurts, etc., and replace that box of cornstarch in your cabinet with arrowroot powder.

The obvious corn stuff

You know, corn chips, tortillas, popcorn, etc.  — things that obviously come from corn.

Better bets: Opt for tortillas made from brown rice or sprouted grains. Serve brown rice or more adventurous whole grains (like teff, quinoa, or amaranth) instead of polenta. Snack on nuts, hummus, and gluten-free pretzels instead of corn chips. If you really miss the crunch of popcorn, try popping sorghum instead. Here’s how (recipe at the bottom of this article).



Links included in this article will sometimes direct you to the website, where you can learn more about and purchase many of the products mentioned. Please know that Haylie Pomroy has a financial interest in anything that is sold from

31 thoughts on “Healthier swaps for corn

  1. please, please hurry and get the app for android system. i love the book but a little awkward to carry around……

  2. I have a very mild “complaint”. I live in an extremely remote place in the mountains in NC, and the nearest health grocery store is 2 hours away. I cannot get mangoes or avacados in my little town, and honestly, I have never heard of persian cucumbers. I need alternatives that are available for me. There are a lots of things in your book that I have never heard of…However, I am doing lots of research on the net. Any suggestions?

    • Check out The Green PokaDot Box at They are a wholesale store like Sam’s Club or Cosco but for NonGMO natural foods and they ship to you.

  3. Hope to hear more from you! Your info seems fantastic, and it looks like it’ll taste great! Keep up the good work. Thanks

  4. Thank you for the great recipes! THANK you for the education on corn in our diet and how to replace it.

  5. This morning in phase 2,I made a delicious omelet with egg whites, mushrooms and Norwegian smoked salmon. I am a psychologist and have been helping my patients with good nutrition. I decided to try your diet even though I would not like to lose more than 5 pounds. I have weighed 140 for over 40 years and will soon be 82. At 5 foot 7 inches, I am not really overweight but would like to get a flat belly. I have never been on a diet in my life but your diet appealed to me for my clients and my companion. I have already lost 3 pounds in 4 days and wonder if I should stay on the diet for the whole month. Please advise!

  6. i wish you would have explained WHY and HOW corn does this to our bodies. I was hoping the article was more informative.

    • Here is a kind of gross example. Corn has been so modified over the years that you don’t even digest it. Eat some corn then pay attention to your next bowel movements — there’s the corn, practically whole. At the same time, the hybridization process has concentrated the sugars in corn. So when you eat it, your body grabs the easy-to-digest sugars, but can’t process most of the rest of the kernel. So you end up processing sugar and little else.

  7. I have two questions. Why is iceberg lettuce not on the menu. Is it because there is no value in it? Also can avocado oil be used?

    • There are two kinds — Haylie recommends birched-based xylitol, such as the Xyla brand. That’s discussed in her book.

  8. Thanks for the corn information. I’m sharing this with others that are becoming curious about the transformation my sister and I are undergoing on your Fast Metabolism Diet. We feel so much better. FMD is a life changer!

  9. I’m trying to figure out if I can use arrow root powder on phase 2. I see arrow root listed as an acceptable vegetable on phase 2 but didn’t know if the powder was treated differently.

  10. In the July 11, 2013 Newsletter, the link “the dirt on modern corn” takes you to “on the road with the fast metabolism diet” and not this page.

  11. Understanding that both are unhealthy, but which is worse, wheat (gluten) or corn? I completed the 28 days and ‘m in the maintenance phase now and when eating out, I often see gluten free options, but these often include corn products instead. Is it better to just eat the wheat (like a pasta) or go with gluten free (which may contain corn). I understand its best to avoid both, but if I’m only doing once in awhile when I’m stuck eating out and have no other choices, which is worse?

    • Haylie has not commented on which is worse. It’s going to depend on your body. For me, the wheat is worse – I get acid reflux and generally feel yucky when I eat it. But for others, corn might affect them more than the wheat. So the choice is up to you and how your body responds to them.

  12. Thank you so much for recommending the popping sorghum as a popcorn substitute. This is transforming our popcorn snack loving family!

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