A lot of weight loss eating plans are best described as fad diets. A fad diet reduces your calorie intake by prescribing a very restrictive eating regimen. Examples of fad diets include the egg and grapefruit diet and the cabbage soup diet.
Fad diets invariably promise rapid weight loss, and they often deliver. However, a fad diet will only work for as long as you stick with it. This is where fad diets fall down because eating nothing but cabbage soup every day will soon get old, and it won’t be long before you quit.
There are some health risks associated with fad diets, such as malnutrition, because of the lack of variety. The fewer foods you eat, the less likely you are to get all the nutrients you need to be healthy.
A popular fad diet back in the 1930s was the rice diet. As the name suggests, you ate mostly rice on this diet.
This raises the question; is rice good for weight loss?
While eating nothing but rice could lead to weight loss, it’s mainly because you’ll get so bored of the stuff that you’ll end up eating it in ever-smaller amounts. However, rice could also help you lose weight as part of a more balanced diet.
In this article, we explore how rice could help you lose weight and reveal the additional benefits of eating rice.
Is Rice Good For Weight Loss?
What Is Rice?
Rice is one of the world’s most widely consumed grains. It has been grown for thousands of years.
There are lots of different rice varieties available but, nutritionally, they’re all very similar. However, white and brown rice are arguably the most popular types of rice.
Rice is usually cooked by boiling or steaming it, and it can be eaten alone, as a side dish, or incorporated into lots of different meals.
There are both savory and sweet rice recipes.
Because rice is a high-carb food, it’s not suitable for the low-carb ketogenic diet. However, rice is also fat-free, so it’s sometimes considered a good weight-loss food.
Unlike wheat and some other grains, rice is gluten-free, so it’s safe for people with celiac disease and anyone with gluten intolerance.
Eating rice is somewhat controversial because eating a lot of rice is linked to things like diabetes and obesity. However, in countries where large amounts of rice are consumed, rates of these conditions are usually very low.
As stated, there are several different types of rice, including red, black, and wild rice, and they are all nutritionally similar. However, there is a significant difference between white rice and brown rice.
White rice has been stripped of its bran and germ, leaving just the endosperm. This affects its taste and texture, as well as its fiber content and caloric value.
It could be argued that white rice is a refined carb, while brown rice is an unrefined carb. In general, unrefined carbs are healthier than those that have been stripped of their fiber.
3.5 ounces/100 grams of cooked white and brown rice provide the following nutritional values:
- 130 calories
- Carbs – 29 grams
- Fiber – 0 grams
- Protein – 2 grams
- Fat – 1 grams
- 112 calories
- Carbs – 24 grams
- Fiber – 2 grams
- Protein – 2 grams
- Fat – 0 gram
In addition, both white and brown rice contains the following vitamins and minerals, although brown rice has more:
- Vitamin B6
Rice and Weight Loss
Eating rice could help you lose weight, providing you follow these rules:
1. Practice good portion control – rice can be healthy, but it’s also high in calories. Avoid consuming too much by weighing your rice before you cook it. Pre-measuring your rice and only cooking what you need will ensure you can’t inadvertently eat more than you should.
A quarter of a cup of uncooked basmati rice contains 150 calories, which is a reasonable-sized portion when you are eating for weight loss.
2. Stick mostly to brown rice – brown rice is higher in fiber and nutrients and lower in calories and carbs than white rice. Therefore, for weight loss, brown rice is probably your best choice.
Higher fiber brown rice will help keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent your blood glucose from spiking. This will stop you from feeling hungry shortly after eating, which is a problem commonly associated with white rice.
3. Combine rice with vegetables – even brown rice contains a lot of calories, and a small, low-calorie serving can leave your plate looking very empty.
Bulk up your rice without adding many more calories by adding some fibrous vegetables. Good options include broccoli, peas, green beans, bell peppers, and/or onions.
4. Watch out for high-calorie additions – a lot of rice dishes contain additional, high-calorie ingredients.
For example, risotto is made with lashings of butter and cheese, and paella includes a lot of oil and fatty ingredients like bacon or sausage.
Curries and Chinese meals also contain rice, but they’re usually loaded with lots of extra calories too.
5. Steam or boil your rice – steaming and boiling don’t add any extra calories to your rice. Make your rice more flavorsome by using stock, salt, pepper, and other calorie-free seasonings. Fried rice is not recommended for weight loss, as frying adds a lot of extra calories.
6. Serve with protein – eating rice and protein creates a nutritionally balanced meal that is filling and could help you lose weight. Avoid eating rice on its own. Instead, serve with fish, meat, poultry, or plant protein foods like tofu, plus plenty of vegetables.
Consumed in reasonable amounts, rice, and especially the brown variety, can be included in most weight-loss diets except keto.
Additional Benefits of Eating Rice
Rice is cheap and easy to prepare. It also offers a couple of additional benefits:
Antioxidant properties – rice contains valuable antioxidants, which are nutrients that offer protection from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules linked to aging and a host of other diseases, including cancer, macular degeneration, and a decline in cognition.
Reduced risk of heart disease – rice contains plant compounds called lignans, which may offer protection against heart disease. Eating rice may help lower bad LDL cholesterol while increasing levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Healthier digestive system – rice, especially the brown variety, is high in resistant starch. Resistant starch is a source of prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria that resides in your digestive tract.
Rice is mainly safe and healthy to eat, even if you choose the white variety. However, brown rice contains more antinutrients than white.
Antinutrients block your body’s ability to absorb certain micronutrients, which could result in a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
The main antinutrient in brown rice is phytic acid, which blocks your ability to absorb zinc and iron.
However, providing you aren’t eating rice every day, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any negative issues.
Brown rice also contains trace amounts of a toxic heavy metal called arsenic. High concentrations of arsenic can be poisonous. However, eaten in sensible amounts, there is no reason to expect arsenic toxicity due to rice.
Some diets ban rice. That’s probably because it’s pretty high in calories, and it’s all too easy to eat a lot without feeling full. Because rice is high in carbs, it’s not allowed on keto, either.
White rice is especially problematic because it digests very quickly, which means soon after eating it, you’ll feel hungry again.
It can also cause a significant spike followed by a big drop in blood glucose, further increasing your hunger.
However, while eating too much rice could cause weight gain or undermine weight loss, it’s not a “bad” food. In fact, in sensible amounts, you can eat rice and still lose weight, and it may even be good for your health, too.
There are lots of different types of rice, but brown rice is arguably the best choice for weight loss. Brown rice contains more fiber and fewer calories than white rice. It also tends to be more nutritious.
The best way to enjoy rice and still lose weight is to measure it before you cook it. That way, you won’t inadvertently eat too much.
Make your rice go further by combining it with lots of low-carb veggies. This will fill you up without adding many more calories to your meal.
Eating rice won’t automatically make you fat or lead to weight loss. However, to eat rice and lose weight, it needs to be part of a calorie-controlled diet.