Rice is one of the most popular staple foods globally, alongside corn and wheat. It comes in over 40,000 varieties, including brown, black, red, and white. The white rice though has fiber and several key nutrients removed during processing. If you are attempting to lose weight, cutting out rice from your diet may be helpful.
Are you ready to stop eating rice to lose some weight? This article should help you get off on the right foot.
Disclaimer: This is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute medical advice. Dietary needs vary based on age, sex, height, weight, physical activities, and any chronic health illnesses. Before starting this diet, speak with your physician and/or nutritionist-dietitian.
Table of Contents
- What Is a No Rice Diet?
- Why Too Much Rice Is Bad for You
- Rice and Its Varieties
- No Rice vs. Low Carb Diet: What’s the Difference?
- Is ‘No Rice Diet’ Effective for Weight Loss?
- Healthy Rice Substitutes for Weight Loss
- No Rice Diet: How to Get Started (Free 7-Day Sample Meal Plan)
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. I have heard a lot about Adlai. Is it a good alternative to rice?
- 2. Is a ‘no rice’ diet the same as a keto diet? What’s their difference?
- 3. I am diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Will the no rice diet help me?
- 4. How much weight will I lose from the no rice diet?
- 5. I also do intermittent fasting along with the no rice diet. Is it safe?
What Is a No Rice Diet?
It is common for fitness junkies to avoid eating rice to lose weight. With a ‘no rice’ diet, you will basically exclude rice, especially polished or white rice, in your diet as it is rich in carbohydrate content which has a negative connotation for those who want to stay fit.
Why Too Much Rice Is Bad for You
1. Too Much Rice Can Deprive You of Essential Nutrients
While not harmful if eaten in moderation, rice contains a few essential macro and micronutrients. In other words, you are getting less nourishment per serving of rice than you would from other foods.
2. White Rice Has a Lot of Carbs per Serving
A diet consisting mainly of white rice can make you feel full and bloated quickly, resulting in a lot of carbs and less room for more nutritious foods.
3. Too Much White Rice May Cause Blood Sugar Levels To Spike
The glycemic index measures the effect of a meal on your blood sugar level. Anything with a glycemic index of more than 70 is considered a high-glycemic food. With a GI of 73, rice is one of these high-glycemic foods. Eating white rice daily has a harmful impact on glucose metabolism and insulin production. This, in turn, increases the chance of acquiring diabetes.
4. The Bland Flavor of Rice May Lead to Overeating
Rice is usually served with other foods so it’s easy to consume more calories than necessary in each meal.
Rice and Its Varieties
Although most types of rice have a similar caloric value, their nutritional content varies. The following are the common varieties available in the Philippines:
1. White Rice
Milled rice stripped of its husk, bran, and germ. The rice is polished after milling, resulting in a seed that is white and smooth in appearance. The processing prevents spoiling, extends storage life, and makes the rice simpler to digest. The downside is the rice changes its flavor, texture, and look.
2. Brown Rice
This is a whole grain rice without the inedible husk. The husk of this rice is removed, but the bran and germ layer remain, giving the rice its brown or tan color.
3. Red Rice
This variety of rice is red due to the presence of anthocyanin. It is often eaten unpolished or slightly polished and has a reddish bran coating, unlike the more common pale brown. The flavor of red rice is nutty. Among kinds of rice consumed with the bran intact, it offers the highest nutritional content as it contains more iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc than the other varieties. It also has significant antioxidant levels, which help minimize free radicals in the body.
4. Purple or Black Rice
A variety of rice with a high anthocyanin pigment content. Because black rice is nearly usually marketed as whole grain, with the topmost layer of bran intact, it is technically a form of brown or unprocessed rice.
The table below summarizes the different rice varieties and their macronutrient components1 .
|Rice variety(100g, uncooked)||Calories(kcal)||Carbohydrates(g)||Protein(g)||Fat(g)||Fiber(g)|
As you can see, white rice is not necessarily the highest in calories and carbs. However, it has fewer nutrients than unprocessed varieties. When white rice is processed, the embryo and bran layers, which contain fiber and nutrients, are removed. The dietary fiber helps glycemic management by slowing the absorption of sugar into circulation. It also helps regulate digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
No Rice vs. Low Carb Diet: What’s the Difference?
A low-carbohydrate diet2 involves eating fewer carbohydrates and a higher proportion of protein and fat. A typical Filipino diet includes anywhere from 50% to 60% of calories coming from carbohydrates, while the macronutrient split in a low-carbohydrate diet might be 30–40%.
A lower intake of carbs means that you will need to increase your intake of other nutrients—namely, protein and fat. Protein intake stays the same in both diets, but increasing protein helps keep hunger at bay since it increases satiety (feeling full) and reduces cravings for sugary foods. Another big benefit of reducing carb intake is that insulin levels go down dramatically which leads to greater fat burn, lower blood sugar levels, more stable energy levels throughout the day, and even better sleep!
Since rice belongs to the carbohydrate group, the ‘no rice’ diet may be considered low-carb as long as your meals do not include other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, pasta, root crops, and fruits.
Is ‘No Rice Diet’ Effective for Weight Loss?
New research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism in May 20193 found that eating a lot of white rice increases weight gain, but eating a lot of brown rice had no effect on body weight. Subjects who frequently consumed high amounts of white rice gained more than 6.6 pounds over the course of a year, but the brown or multi-grain rice group did not.
White rice is unlikely to induce weight gain when ingested in moderation. On the other hand, whole varieties, specifically brown rice, are healthier due to their high fiber content.
Refined grains, particularly white rice, have been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. According to a February 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition4, white rice intake may lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome in adolescent females.
In a nutshell, not eating rice for a month or two may help you lose weight. It is your whole diet that is important, however. For instance, you must burn 3,500 calories to shed one pound of fat. Rice alone is relatively low in calories compared to other meals, so you may continue to eat it in moderation without gaining weight.
Healthy Rice Substitutes for Weight Loss
Health experts have been putting emphasis on the benefits of eating whole grains. Whole grains are high in fiber, which aids digestion, boosts metabolism, regulates blood sugar levels, and promotes intestinal health. According to a study in 20215, substituting white rice with brown rice, a whole grain, speeds up weight loss and is the equivalent of a 30-minute brisk walk. The said study shows that eating brown rice may cause individuals to build a faster metabolism and burn more calories. Brown rice’s fiber content also keeps you feeling full, hence suppressing your appetite, and simplifying the weight loss process. Thinking twice because it is still rice? You may choose from other rice alternatives that can add nutrition and taste to your meals, thereby helping you transition to a ‘no rice’ diet. These are:
This grain is cultivated in the Philippines and is about three times more energy-dense than white rice6. While greater in calorie content, this grain has more nutrients than rice. Diabetic patients should be aware of this grain’s anti-inflammatory qualities and propensity to lower blood sugar levels.
Cauliflower rice is ideal if you want to reduce your calorie consumption. At 25 calories per cup, it also contains vitamins and minerals that will keep you going throughout the day.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato or kamote, as it is known in the Philippines, is high in fiber and complex carbs. Because of its high vitamin C concentration, this sweet rice replacement may help strengthen your immunity. It is also high in vitamin A due to its beta-carotene content.
This superfood does everything. It is high in fiber and protein, not to mention gluten-free. This grain is also easier to digest than white rice.
Even though it contains sugar, maize has a low glycemic index, making it an excellent alternative to white rice. Corn has also been linked to improvements in eye and intestinal health.
6. Whole wheat bread
This is denser and more satisfying than white bread.
The takeaway here is rice can be replaced by your preferred alternative to ensure your body can still get enough carbohydrates which is the main source of energy that our body needs. A ‘no rice’ diet for weight loss is achievable when combined with healthy options and exercise.
No Rice Diet: How to Get Started (Free 7-Day Sample Meal Plan)
White bread, white pasta, and white rice grains are refined by a milling process that removes the bran layer to give them a finer texture. They have been highly processed in order to remove many other nutrients that they typically contain.
The energy from these refined carbohydrates is quickly depleted by your body, leaving you more hungry than if you had eaten the same quantity of nutritious meals rich in complex carbohydrates. This might mean you will eat again sooner since the empty carbohydrates in white rice are preparing you to eat more throughout the day. As a result, these foods are nothing more than carbs that your body digests swiftly and effortlessly.
The fundamental issue with these foods is that they set off a chain reaction of food cravings. They cause a quick sugar rush in your circulation when you consume them.
As a response, your body produces insulin which is a hormone released by your pancreas to allow sugar to enter your cells. Because of the increased insulin, blood sugar levels fall lower than usual. When your blood sugar drops, your body craves more carbs. And when you give in and eat carbohydrate-rich foods, your blood sugar spikes again, restarting the cycle. This property gives refined carbohydrates a high glycemic index and is important to why refined grains are detrimental for weight loss.
So should you go on a ‘no rice’ diet to lose weight?
The solution is not that straightforward. It may help with your weight loss journey but remember that eating the correct amount of food should always be the hallmark of any proper diet. Thus, substituting rice with whole foods is a smart move to make sure that your body still gets the proper amount of nutrients it needs. Below is a sample 1-week ‘no rice’ meal plan that includes these rice substitutes.
- Servings of meat (fish, chicken, pork, and beef): 2-3 matchbox sizes only
- Servings of salads: 1-2 cups (128g/cup)
- Servings of rice substitutes/pasta/root crops: ½ cup (60g)
- Servings of any bread: 1-2 pcs.
- Servings of spread: 1 tbsp only (5g)
- All meat should be lean as they are generally low in fat. Lean meats are chicken breast, pork tenderloin, beef sirloin, tilapia, mackerel, and salmon in fish
- Drink a lot of water (at least 8 glasses a day); drink a glass of water before and after a major meal
- Take a moment to think about whether you are actually hungry/just craving/bored
- Avoid processed foods (i.e., canned or packaged foods; chips; and fast food), fried foods, as well as foods that are too sweet or salty
- Use olive or canola oil at home and avoid reusing the same oil for frying as it increases the number of free radicals in the body, which can lead to inflammation, which is the underlying cause of most diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
- Eat major meals at the same time every day
- Social events are a dieting minefield; attend them with caution, and go prepared
- Familiarize yourself with calorie counting; always check calorie contents in food labels
- Light-intensity physical activities (at least 30 mins/day) are recommended. Do exercises but do not overexert yourself if you are running on just 1,500 calories a day
Although this kind of meal plan can be a useful step toward weight loss, it should be done as part of a healthy program that includes a good lifestyle and exercise. For guidance on weight loss plans that are right for you, consider meeting with a nutritionist-dietitian and talking with your physician.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I have heard a lot about Adlai. Is it a good alternative to rice?
Adlai, or adlay, is the common name of the heart- and kidney-shaped seeds of Echniacea angustifolia, a wild grain that grows in the northern Philippines. Adlai is gluten-free and low in fat and sodium. It’s also known as adlay because it looks like a tiny grain of rice. This unique seed has been used for centuries by Filipinos to make traditional dishes such as binagol (adlai porridge) and puto bumbong (rice cakes).
Adlai can be a tasty alternative to rice and is a good protein, fiber, and calcium source. It also contains vitamins A and B, phosphorus and iron, and lacks cholesterol. There are many other benefits to eating adlai instead of rice, but you should consult your doctor first before making any changes to your diet.
2. Is a ‘no rice’ diet the same as a keto diet? What’s their difference?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. It is often used for weight loss, to help manage diabetes and epilepsy, and for general health. It may also be used to treat some cancers. This diet aims to reach a state called “ketosis,” during which your body starts burning fat instead of carbohydrates as its main source of fuel. The way you get into ketosis varies between people: some enter it by eating very few carbs; others enter when they exercise heavily; others use supplements like MCT oil powder or exogenous ketone esters (also known as racetams).
Not eating rice may be considered a strategy to follow a keto diet7. However, a ‘no rice’ diet does not necessarily mean it is keto-friendly since the former still allows other sources of carbohydrates to be consumed.
3. I am diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Will the no rice diet help me?
When people with diabetes consume rice, it is important to understand how the body reacts. When you consume drinks and foods with carbohydrates, it breaks down into glucose and the body’s blood sugar rises. Therefore, if you have diabetes, it is important to watch your carbohydrate intake8. A ‘no rice’ diet can definitely help as rice is known to have a considerable amount of carbohydrates, a high glycemic index, and a high glycemic load.
4. How much weight will I lose from the no rice diet?
You can lose weight if you stop eating rice due to a drastic reduction in caloric intake. After all, if you normally eat 2 cups of rice per day and stop eating it, then this means that you will naturally consume 400 fewer calories on a daily basis which would cause weight loss. There is not enough study yet on how much weight you can lose; however, assuming you keep a balanced diet while on a calorie deficit, a ‘no rice’ diet can help you lose about 1-2 pounds per week9.
5. I also do intermittent fasting along with the no rice diet. Is it safe?
The ‘no rice’ diet combined with intermittent fasting10 is probably safe for most individuals. However, intermittent fasting should be avoided by pregnant or lactating women, as well as individuals with a history of disordered eating. Before attempting intermittent fasting on the ‘no rice’ diet, anyone with specific health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, should speak with their physician.
Though some individuals may find it beneficial to combine these practices, it is important to highlight that it may not work for everyone. Fasting on the ‘no rice’ diet may be too difficult for some people or they may experience adverse reactions such as overeating on non-fasting days, mood swings, and fatigue.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting is not required for weight loss, but it can be used as a strategy for quick progress. Following a healthy, well-rounded ‘no rice’ diet may be already enough to improve health by limiting carbohydrates in your diet.
- Rathna Priya, T., Eliazer Nelson, A., Ravichandran, K., & Antony, U. (2019). Nutritional and functional properties of coloured rice varieties of South India: a review. Journal Of Ethnic Foods, 6(1). doi: 10.1186/s42779-019-0017-3
- The Nutrition Source. Retrieved 11 June 2022, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/low-carbohydrate-diets/
- Sawada, K., Takemi, Y., Murayama, N., & Ishida, H. (2019). Relationship between rice consumption and body weight gain in Japanese workers: white versus brown rice/multigrain rice. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, And Metabolism, 44(5), 528-532. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0262
- Song, S., Young Paik, H., Song, W., & Song, Y. (2015). Metabolic syndrome risk factors are associated with white rice intake in Korean adolescent girls and boys. British Journal Of Nutrition, 113(3), 479-487. doi: 10.1017/s0007114514003845
- Sawicki, C., Jacques, P., Lichtenstein, A., Rogers, G., Ma, J., Saltzman, E., & McKeown, N. (2021). Whole- and Refined-Grain Consumption and Longitudinal Changes in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. The Journal Of Nutrition, 151(9), 2790-2799. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxab177
- Arnaldo, S. (2021). Adlai: What it is, where to get it, how to enjoy it. Retrieved 11 June 2022, from https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/food-drinks/things-to-know-adlai-low-carbohydrate-rice/
- Should you try the keto diet? – Harvard Health. (2020). Retrieved 11 June 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-try-the-keto-diet
- Eating white rice regularly may raise type 2 diabetes risk. Retrieved 11 June 2022, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/eating-white-rice-regularly-may-raise-type-2-diabetes-risk/
- Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. Retrieved 11 June 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
- Leiva, C. (2018). How to do the keto diet and intermittent fasting at the same time, according to experts. Retrieved 11 June 2022, from https://www.insider.com/keto-and-intermittent-fasting-same-time-2018-10