Can You Eat Rice On The Keto Diet?
There’s a reason why rice is such a popular food all across the world: it’s filling and delicious.
Rice is an abundant food source and is the base of all sorts of different dishes.
Many developing parts of the world depend on rice because of how accessible and affordable it is, yet it also serves as the base of many upscale dishes as well.
But as delicious and healthy as rice can be, it’s also loaded in carbs. Rice is classified as a grain, and as keto dieters know all too well, grains are typically high in carbs.
That’s why people who are following a low-carb meal plan are usually instructed to eliminate it from the diet.
But can you eat even a small amount of rice while following the keto diet, or will it completely derail your state of ketosis?
Different Types of Rice
Rice comes in several different varieties, including the following:
Arborio rice – This type of rice is a medium grain rice. Its texture is somewhat chewy and sticky because of its high starch content. When cooked, Arborio rice tends to be creamy, which is why it’s often used in dishes such as risotto and soup.
Basmati rice – This long grain rice has a bit of a nutty flavor and is a common base for many different Asian and Indian dishes.
Jasmine rice – This type of rice is popular in many Asian dishes and has a jasmine aroma when it is cooked. It’s used most often in stir-fry dishes.
Brown rice – This particular type of rice is a 100% whole grain food and is rich in vitamins and minerals. “Whole grain” basically refers to the fact that it contains all parts of the grain, including the germ, endosperm, and bran. Brown rice is slightly chewy in texture and fluffy when it’s cooked, which helps it avoid sticking.
White rice – The more commonly used type of rice in North America is white rice. It’s sticky in consistency when it’s cooked and is a versatile food for many different types of dishes. Unlike whole grain rice, white rice has had the germ bran removed, which are the most nutritious components of the grain. As such, white rice contains very little nutritional value.
That said, while some types of rice might be more nutritious than others, all rice is almost entirely made up of carbs, with trace amounts of protein and no fat. More specifically, all rice types have approximately 45g of carbs per cup.
Should You Eat Rice on Keto Diet?
Considering the fact that rice is nearly 100% made up of carbs, it stands to reason that this particular type of food is not conducive to the keto diet.
If you’re working hard to maintain a state of ketosis, your best bet is to steer clear of all types of rice, at least during the first couple of months of following this diet plan.
If you’re just starting to embark on the keto diet and are working your way towards achieving a ketogenic state, then rice should probably be avoided completely.
It can take a few days or longer to get your body to start producing more ketones in an effort to deplete your body’s glycogen stores and burn more body fat.
As such, any additional carbs can make this process take longer.
Your metabolism is modified when you get into ketosis.
Once you’re there, high carb foods can quickly kick you out of ketosis, making it more difficult for your body to use body fat as its main source of fuel.
Further, your blood sugar and insulin levels will surge when you eat high-carb foods like rice. This, in turn, will throw off your efforts to reach or maintain ketosis.
Once you reintroduce starchy carbs into your diet again, your body will start using carbs again for fuel instead of your stored body fat.
What About “Cyclical” Keto Dieting?
Having said all of the above, you may be able to eat minimal amounts of rice if you’re very physically active and are following a “cyclical” keto diet.
With this diet plan – also referred to as “carb-cycling” – you would follow a low-carb diet for a few days, then break things up with periodic intervals of moderate- or high-carb days.
Adopting this version of the keto diet can help athletes to maximize fat loss while still being able to perform at high-intensity.
If you are an athlete that needs some carbs on high-intensity training days – or “carb-loading” days – then a cyclical keto diet might be more appropriate.
In this case, you may be able to get away with eating some amount of rice. If you do choose to eat rice on your high-carb days, consider reaching for whole grain rice as opposed to the nutritionally-empty white rice.
Rice Substitutes on Keto Diet
While you might not be able to enjoy bowl-fulls of rice while following the keto diet, there are some rice substitutes you can dine on instead, including the following:
Cauliflower rice. Probably the most popular substitute for rice is cauliflower rice. All you need is a food processor or cheese grater and you’ve got a low-carb rice substitute.
It’s only got 5g of carbs per 100g serving, compared to 28g of carbs for rice of the same serving size. You can even use cauliflower rice as part of a low-carb pizza crust recipe that involves a little mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Cauliflower may help to improve digestion, balance hormones, lower inflammation, and even lower the risk of certain cancers. It’s also loaded in vitamins C and K.
Cabbage rice. Easy to find at all grocery stores, cabbage is cheap and low in carbs at only 6g of carbs per 100g serving. Again, all you need is a food processor to shred the cabbage into tiny pellets resembling rice. Saute the cabbage rice with all sorts of different spices and herbs to mimic the taste and texture of real rice.
Cabbage is chock full of nutrients, including iron and vitamins C and K. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that may protect against certain cancers and heart disease while promoting good vision.
Shirataki rice. This special type of rice comes from the root of the konnyaku plant and actually contains zero calories or carbs! That’s because it’s made up of soluble fiber which can help promote good digestion and keep cholesterol levels balanced. It’s also a good source of iron.
Shirataki rice can be found in most health food stores and makes a great low-carb substitute for regular rice. Use it in your pilaf, stir-fry, or even in soup.
Because of the high carb content, rice is usually not on the list of keto-friendly food. You should stay away from rice unless you’re an avid athlete that is carb cycling.
If you miss the texture and density of rice, there are some solid alternatives that you can try out that are extremely low in both carbs and calories.
As long as you’re careful with the sauces you add on top, you can enjoy a great-tasting dish that mimics the texture and taste of the real thing!