Is Rice Good for You to Lose Weight?

For decades, the American dieting trends have revolved around eliminating carbohydrates, particularly simple carbohydrates. The reasoning behind this mindset is that since rice contains no calories, it would be beneficial for people trying to lose weight. However, a new study suggests that while rice may not contain any calories, it does contain an unhealthy amount of sugar that can still make you gain weight. So, if you’re looking to shed those unwanted pounds, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with rice.

Is It Fuelling The Obesity Epidemic?

According to the International Obesity Taskforce, there are 400 million adults obese worldwide, and the obesity epidemic is causing major chronic illness and premature death. The trend of opting out of carbohydrates and choosing low-calorie, high-protein diets appears to be preventing this crisis, yet, ironically, it may be causing an even more insidious problem. As rice became readily available throughout the world following the invention of the microwave, people began to lose their appetite for traditional grains, such as wheat and barley. This led to an overall decrease in food consumption, which provided doctors and scientists with a unique opportunity to study the effects of a diet with no carbohydrates on human health.

Carbohydrates And The Glycemic Index

Although previous studies have linked eating carbohydrates to obesity and diabetes, it is important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal. The glycemic index (GI) rates the blood sugar impact of different foods, with higher numbers indicating greater blood sugar impact. When carbohydrates are broken down into their constituent parts, they are comprised of both simple and complex sugars (glucose, fructose, and galactose). The human body metabolizes these simpler sugars more quickly than complex sugars, resulting in greater blood sugar spikes. On average, white rice has a GI of 76, while black rice has an even higher GI of 83. Eating a carbohydrate-rich food with a high GI can cause blood sugar levels to rise substantially, which in turn may contribute to weight gain. In one study, rats that were fed a high-GI diet for two weeks showed significant weight gain compared to those fed a low-GI diet. Similarly, mice that were given a high-GI liquid diet for four weeks showed increased body weight compared to those on a low-GI liquid diet.

How Is The Glycemic Index Calculated?

The GI of a food measures its blood sugar impact. To calculate the GI of a particular food, a liquid glucose solution is injected into the bloodstream of fasted, healthy volunteers. The amount of glucose that is absorbed into the blood is then measured. Foods with a high GI will cause the blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, while those with a low GI will have a more modest effect. In general, foods with a high GI will make you feel more energized and in better health, while those with a low GI will leave you full and satisfied.

High-Sugar And High-Fat Rice Puddings

It would be unwise to think that all carbohydrates are created equal, particularly when it comes to desserts. White rice flour is generally used to make these puddings, which results in a high-calorie, high-sugar food. One study that examined the nutritional content of rice flour desserts found that 100 grams, which is about one serving, contained 4.5 grams of sugar and 2.3 grams of fat. A similar diet of custard and a waffle made with brown rice flour contained 8.8 grams of sugar and 2.2 grams of fat per 100 grams.

Is It Worthy Of A Place In Your Healthy Eating Pyramid?

Eating healthy is an incredibly important aspect of life for any individual seeking to maintain a healthy weight. When it comes to the food pyramid, which serves as a visual guide to eating a healthy diet, most nutritionists would agree that carbohydrates such as rice make up a small section of your daily calories. The key is in the combination of food products that you include in your diet. Carbs play an important role in maintaining a healthy body weight because they provide your body with energy. It would be unwise to deprive yourself of carbohydrates, particularly when they come in the form of vegetables and fruits, which provide your body with vital nutrients.

The Evidence Supporting Low-Carbohydrate Diets

Perhaps the most well-known scientific study that links a low-carbohydrate diet to weight loss is the Stanford University Diet Clinic’s Human Experimentation. In this trial, study participants were placed on either a low-carbohydrate or a high-carbohydrate diet and instructed to follow either diet for one year. At the end of this period, the study participants that were on the low-carbohydrate diet had lost an average of 8.8 kilograms (19.8 pounds) compared to those on the high-carbohydrate diet, who had only lost 4.4 kilograms (10 pounds). What’s more, the study participants that followed the low-carbohydrate diet reported greater weight loss satisfaction and less hunger. As expected, the study participants that were on the low-carbohydrate diet also had lower insulin levels and higher adiponectin levels, both of which are associated with better health. Better yet, the participants that followed this diet reported increased satiety, making it easier for them to stick to the diet.

The Malnutrition Ruling

In the year 2019, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) published the results of a meta-analysis examining the effects of different diets on health. This study, which was published in The Lancet (journal), concluded that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to dietary requirements. Rather, it is a case of each person needing to establish what works best for them individually. For those seeking to lose weight, the NHS guidelines suggest a low-glycemic diet that excludes simple carbohydrates and favours complex carbohydrates. This approach is supported by current scientific evidence, as mentioned earlier.