If you want to lose weight, the most common advice you tend to hear is to ditch rice totally because eating rice can make you fat! Is rice really the culprit? Does rice really deserve the bad rap it has been getting?
Firstly, let’s get some facts right. Rice is NOT fattening nor is it unhealthy. Have you ever ask yourself if rice makes people fat, why are the majority of people in East Asia slim despite eating rice on a daily basis?
Rice is a staple diet to more than half of the world’s population, and 90% of the world’s rice comes from Asia. Rice is a rich source of carbohydrates and fibre which are essential to a balanced and nutritious diet. It is also low in fat and sugar, easily digestible, gluten-free and a good source of B Vitamins.
Personally, I used to be “afraid” of rice, but after getting to know better its benefits and purpose, now, I eat rice every single day. And if you have seen my transformation, rice has helped with my energy level, improved my workouts and even reduce my body fat.
So YES, you can enjoy rice and still lose weight and maintain a healthy weight for life. If you are a rice lover and don’t want to give up on rice while losing weight, here’s how you can do it:
1) Practice Portion Control
To manipulate your weight, up or down, it comes down to one simple principle of “Energy Balance”. To lose weight, you have to create a NEGATIVE energy balance, that means you should be burning more calories than what you are consuming. On the other hand, to gain weight, you have to create a POSITIVE energy balance, that means you should be consuming more than what you burn.
So the main reason you’re gaining weight, is not because of rice. But rather it’s the total amount of food you consume in a day! For example, if your body is burning 2000 calories in a day, but you’re consuming a total of 2500 calories, that’s when weight gain happens. In order to lose weight, you need to either reduce your food intake OR increase your activity level OR both.
Yes, you can eat rice, but you still need to practice portion control. If you continue to eat heaps of rice, and blaming it on rice because you’re gaining weight, well, that’s because you are not practicing portion control.
So how much should you be eating? If your goal is to lose weight, keep it to 1 - 2 small bowls a day. 1 small bowl of cooked rice has typically between 200 - 250 calories depending on the type of rice you’re using. Also because rice is rich in carbohydrates, you can skip other forms of starchy carbs in the meal in which you are having a serving of rice.
2) Pair it with Vegetables & Protein
One of the reasons that rice tend to be labeled as “bad” is because of its high glycemic index. That means that it is digested very quickly, which can cause sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels. As a result, this may leave you feeling hungry again and could lead to eating more calories later on.
You can avoid this by pairing it with lots of vegetables as well as protein. Veggies are high in fibre, which will help you to stay full for longer. Do remember that a balanced diet should still be 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 starchy carbs, which in this case will be rice.
3) Keep it as it is!
As I’ve mentioned before, rice on its own can be healthy. But not when you turn it into a bowl of oily fried rice, or flavouring it with butter, heavy cream or ghee. That’s going to add extra fats, sugar and calories which is not going to help with your waistline if you consume it regularly.
Just like a piece of chicken breast. It is a whole healthy food isn’t it? But not when you deep fry it. So your cooking methods matter a lot! Choose to boil your rice plain. If you do want to flavour it, then be mindful of what and the amount you are using.
4) Consume Post-Workout
This is specifically for endomorphs. If you’re an endomorph, then you tend to be more insulin resistant and a have lower carbohydrate tolerance. You do better on higher protein and fat, with lower carbs. So you have to be more strategic in planning when to eat rice.
Because your body does not tolerate carbs very well, the best method is to AVOID high or starchy carb foods outside of the workout window. Only consume starchy foods such as rice, whole grain breads, quinoa, corn, barley, yams, potatoes AFTER exercising.
Your body tolerates and processes carbohydrates most efficiently in the 3-hour window post-workout, so this is the best time to eat your starchier carbs. Eating carbs after exercise will replenish your glycogen stores, which you’ve used up during your workout. But remember that you still need to practice portion control. That also means, outside of the workout window, your diet should consist mainly of protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
WHITE or BROWN RICE
So the next question is what type of rice should I eat? Can I eat white rice? Or do I have to only eat brown rice. Brown rice is considered to be healthier than white rice and the main reason is that this rice is unpolished.
Brown rice is definitely more nutritious compared to white rice. It’s higher in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Saying that however, nowadays, manufacturers do enrich white rice to replace the nutrients lost during processing.
Most people can tolerate both brown and white rice. However, there are some people who find it harder to digest brown rice, including myself. Personally, I consume white rice more often or I’d mix both brown and white rice together. This makes it easier for my body to digest.
There are lots of different types of rice out there, but the nutritional values between them wouldn’t defer too much. If you ask me, what rice should I consume? My simple answer is to consume one that you enjoy and is easily available.
I love rice. Rice is a grain that is easy-to-prepare, and is incredibly versatile as well. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, it is widely available and is very cheap as well. I’ve created lots of different rice recipes over the years, which you can watch them on my YouTube channel. I’ve also put together a list of healthy rice recipes for you to try and start introducing rice into your diet.
Sustainable weight loss is a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet. You don’t have to give up your favourite or staple foods like rice while you’re trying to lose weight. Practicing portion control and using healthy methods to cook your meals are very important. Are you a rice lover? Let me know in the comments below.