Rice As A Part Of A Diet
Each diet and each meal has a base. If you are vegan, your meals are probably based on grains, vegetables, and fruits. If you follow a well-balanced diet, you may have potatoes, pasta, noodles, or rice as your base. Rice is widely used as the main starch in Asian countries and is also the main component of the rice diet. The people who live in Asian countries, such as China, South Korea, and Japan are mostly skinny.
Even the statistics show that these countries have an impressively low percentage of people who are overweight (8) or obese (7). It’s no wonder why the rice diet keeps gaining more attention. But is eating rice really the key to weight loss and a fit body? To find out whether or not the rice diet will make you shed pounds, you need to understand the main rules of this diet, and what are its benefits and downsides.
The Concept Of The Rice Diet
Although the rice diet has a long history of use, it is quite popular nowadays, and with time gains more and more followers. Its initial primary use was to help you improve heart and kidney health and fight obesity, but currently it is also widely used for its weight loss effects. It is a low-fat, low-sodium, low-protein, and low-calorie diet, which requires regular exercise and meditation (12). The daily energy limit in the first phase of the rice diet is 800 calories, which is very little, considering that you should also regularly exercise. After this phase, you are to increase the amount of consumed daily calories to 1,000-1,200, and this number must remain the same until you reach your target weight. Being highly restrictive, it has the following rules:
What To Eat On The Rice Diet?
It has already been mentioned that this diet limits the consumption of a lot of foods, guiding you to consume healthier carbs. Your meals in this diet may include high-fiber fruits and vegetables, and grains, which are considered to be the main components of the diet. You can also eat unprocessed, or minimally processed beans. Another essential food for this diet is low- or no-fat dairy products, such as milk yogurt or cottage cheese. During the later stages, you are allowed to include lean meats and fish into your meal plan. In general, this diet is low in vitamin D and calcium and therefore requires use of supplements.
Nutritional Value Of Rice
As it’s clear from the name of the diet, one of its main ingredients is rice and this is why you should know its nutritional value. The two most popular groups of rice are white and brown. White rice is high in carbohydrates, in fact it makes up around 80% of its total dry weight. Rice tends to absorb a lot of water while being cooked. In cooked form 70% of its weight is made up of water (14).
One cup of cooked white rice (205g) contains (10):
- Calories – 266 kcal
- Fats – 0.389 g
- Carbs – 58.9 g
- Protein – 4.84 g
- Water – 140 g
Brown rice contains more fiber, fat, and protein than white rice. It is also richer in manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin (6), and is considered to be a bit healthier than the white. So, it is up to you which to choose. Besides rice, you may also eat bread or pasta, but also in a small amount.
What To Avoid?
As you can see, the rice diet is quite limiting of foods and calories and so it may require medical supervision. When following a rice diet, you should avoid foods that are salty, processed, greasy, and rich in fats. Alcohol and sweets, including desserts and sugary drinks, are also not for you if you stick to this nutritional plan. You should also consider reducing the size of your portions in order to reach the desired result.
Benefits Of The Rice Diet
The rice diet has a number of benefits: it could improve your health, help you slim down, and implement some positive habits into your routine. Here are some of the benefits:
The key to successful weight loss is the reduction of consumed calories and an increase in the amount of calories burned (13). As the rice diet is highly limiting in terms of energy intake and requires increased regular physical activity, you should be able to shed the necessary number of pounds to reach your target weight and maintain it. A Japanese study showed that consumption of rice instead of bread for breakfast before exercising decreases the chance of fat deposited (2), meaning that you will not only reduce the water weight, but will also melt away unwanted fat.
Improved Kidney Health
The rice diet is a low-sodium diet. Reduced sodium intake can prevent your body from storing water weight, but what is more important – fight or prevent kidney disease. As one of the main responsibilities of your kidneys is to maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals, increased consumption of sodium puts more pressure on your kidneys, over time causing the occurrence of kidney diseases. To prevent this you should reduce the amount of salt that you eat, and that is what the rice diet offers to you. It is therefore implied that you shouldn’t add any kind of salt in your cooking.
Lower Blood Pressure
Studies show that increased sodium intake may lead to higher blood pressure (5). Controlling the consumption of sodium through one’s diet has always been one of the most effective ways to manage that condition (11). If you are not new to the world of diets, you may have noticed that the rice diet is somewhat similar to the DASH diet which is focused on fighting hypertension. The main thing these diets have in common is the low sodium intake which is tied to better control of blood pressure (3).
Downsides Of The Rice Diet
A lot of weight-loss diets have certain downsides, and the rice diet is not an exception. Here are some of the main negative aspects of this nutrition plan:
May Lead To Deficiencies
The limited variety of foods in this dietary plan may cause certain imbalances in your body if you follow it for a long period of time. The decreased consumption of protein could cause loss of muscle mass. If you don’t take any supplements while sticking to the rice diet, it might lead to multiple nutrient deficiency.
Difficult To Stick To
As you already know, the rice diet is highly limiting. That is why sticking to its plan for a long period of time may be very difficult and even exhausting, especially when going to social events or if you are used to eating out.
Not Recommended For A Long-Term Use
Although the rice diet is incredibly effective as a short-term weight loss, following it for a long time may not be best for some people. As it is very restrictive and cuts the calorie and protein intake, the limited amount may not be enough for some people, in the long run causing harm to their wellness. If you want to start following this diet, please, discuss all its aspects with your doctor or dietitian, decide whether it is safe for you and in which way it is better for you to incorporate this diet or some of its principles into your routine.
Rice Diet Meal Ideas
Using rice as a meal base has a very long history, and there are a lot of different dishes that include this ingredient and may be incorporated into the rice diet meal plan. Trying out the following dishes may add some flavor to your diet, and spice up your dietary routine:
- Vegetable and rice pilaf
- Stir-fried veggies with rice
- Mushroom risotto
- Sushi burrito
- Steamed salmon and vegetable rice bowl
- Mango sticky rice
- Omurice (omelet on rice)
- Chicken Spinach Artichoke Rice Casserole
- Salads with rice
- Rice puddings
- Soups with rice
Rice Diet Plan Sample
As you already know, the rice diet consists of three phases. The purpose of the first phase is to get used to the new regimen and its requirements. The second phase aims at health improvement and weight loss, so it lasts until you reach your desired weight. And the third phase is designed to help you implement healthy eating habits and maintain your results. Each phase has its caloric and food restrictions and so, different meal plans. Here is a sample rice diet plan for each phase:
Phase 1 – 800 Calories
- Breakfast: A cup of oatmeal with orange and chia seeds, a cup of unsweetened green tea.
- Lunch: A cup of rice, half of a cup of stir-fried vegetables.
- Snack: A cup of nonfat yogurt with berries.
- Dinner: Grilled vegetables and mushroom rice, a cup of unsweetened herbal tea.
Phase 2 – 1,000 Calories
- Breakfast: One slice of toast, half of an avocado, and half a cup of cottage cheese, a cup of unsweetened green tea.
- Lunch: A cup of rice, half a cup of stir-fried vegetables, half of a grilled chicken breast.
- Snack: A cup of fruit mix (apples, oranges, bananas, pears).
- Dinner: Vegetable and fish sushi, a cup of unsweetened herbal tea.
Phase 3 – 1,200 Calories
- Breakfast: A cup of vegetable quinoa, a cup of unsweetened green tea.
- Lunch: A cup of rice, half a cup of stir-fried vegetables, a medium-sized baked fish.
- Snack: A cup of unsweetened yogurt with dried fruits and nuts.
- Dinner: Chicken breast and mushroom risotto, a cup of unsweetened herbal tea.
Other Types Of Rice Diets
There are different types of rice diets, each with its rules, restrictions, and goals. Although they all have rice in their names, they still have different rice diet menus. This is why you should carefully choose which plan to follow, as it may cause the opposite effect of what you expect.
The most common types of the rice diets are chicken and rice diet, rice and beans diet, and a brown rice diet. They are mainly based on rice, which if over consumed may have certain negative consequences. Studies show that increased consumption of rice may lead to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (15). There is research however that has shown that this topic requires further deeper investigation and it is too early to proclaim its harmful effect based on the evidence that has been presented so far (9).
The rice diet was first created with the purpose of improving your health by fighting obesity and cardiovascular diseases, promoting kidney health, and lowering blood pressure. The rice diet has a great number of restrictions, limiting your food intake to fruits and vegetables, grains, some beans and low- or nonfat dairy in the first phase, and allowing some lean meats and fish in the second.
While making use of regular workouts, it requires quite a small number of calories and so this is not enough for some people. Although this nutritional plan could have certain health benefits, including weight loss, improved kidney health, and others, it still has its downsides, which may make it difficult and harmful for certain people to follow this plan for a long period of time. Even if this diet is believed by some people to potentially treat certain was created for medical conditions, you should keep in mind that it is quite restrictive and limiting. Before introducing this diet into your daily regimen, please consult a dietitian.