If you want to lose weight, the first advice that most people will give you is to ditch rice totally. But, why so? Is rice really the culprit? Or are we ignoring some basic facts here? So, first things first – rice is not unhealthy or fattening. It is a rich source of carbohydrates and fiber but it gets a bad reputation mostly because it is a high glycemic index food. This means that it is digested very quickly which can cause sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels. Moreover, since it is digested quickly, you end up feeling hungry again soon after eating it which may add unnecessary calories to your day.
The bottom-line is that like every other ingredient there are pros and cons of eating rice, but when it comes to weight loss two things matter the most. The type of rice you eat and the portion size which refers to the amount of rice you eat daily. So, what kind of rice is best for weight loss?
According to Shalini Manglani, Bangalore-based Weight Management Expert, “All types of rice have similar calorific values. Brown rice, unpolished rice, red rice and hand-pounded rice have more fiber as they are not polished or processed and the outer layer (which contains most of the fiber) is still on. These varieties are more filling and satisfying. From a weight loss perspective, it is better to have the more filling variety but eating white rice, if one enjoys it, is alright as long as you keep an eye on the portion size. For a lot of us, rice is a staple and it is hard to give it up totally. If we standardize our portions at home instead of eating unlimited quantities, rice won’t have a bad name!”
All types of rice have similar calorific values
Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta agrees and adds, “For weight loss, we need something which is high in vitamins and minerals, which is not available in commercial rice. Having traditional rice like hand-pound rice is good for your overall health. Basically brown, red and other coloured rice varieties contain fiber and antioxidants that make them better for weight loss.”
Let’s take a look at the different types of rice and the calories that they provide.
1. White Rice: This one is perhaps the unhealthiest, no guesses there. Most of the nutrients, minerals and fiber are stripped off during the industrial processing. 100 grams of white rice will have about 150 calories (as per USDA). White rice is a high glycemic index ingredient and therefore, diabetics should either avoid it or consume it in limited quantities.
2. Brown Rice: This is the variety of rice that you must switch to if you want to lose weight. It is full of dietary fiber which boosts your metabolism and helps in weight loss. 100 grams of brown rice contains about 111 calories (as per USDA). The good old khichdi is the healthiest way to use rice for weight loss but you can also use it in your soup along with chicken or fish chunks during the winter season to make a wholesome one-pot meal.
3. Red Rice: This variety of rice gets its rich colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanin. The compound is believed to have properties that can help in weight management. The manganese present in red rice helps in strengthening your metabolism too. A cup of red rice (one cup is equal to 250 grams) would generally contain about 216 calories.
(Also read: 5 Popular Rice Varieties from South India)
This variety of rice gets its rich colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanin.
4. Black Rice: The darker the colour of rice, the more antioxidants it is known to contain. Black or wild rice is also unpolished and contains micro-nutrients such as folate, vitamin B6, zinc, phosphorous and niacin. The black sticky rice is known to be light on the stomach. A cup of black rice contains about 280 calories.
Tips to use rice for weight loss
Now that you know that you don’t need to banish rice from your life in order to lose weight, here are some tips to cook and use rice so that it fits in easily in your weight loss diet plan.
1. When eating out, always opt for plain boiled or steamed rice instead of fried rice.
2. Rice is an incomplete form of protein and should be eaten in combination with an animal or a plant-based protein rich food such as dal-chawal.
3. Soak the rice before cooking and wash it 3-4 times to remove all the starch. You must also boil the rice with excess water to keep the starch levels low.
4. Add fibe- rich vegetables to your bowl of rice to make a wholesome weight loss meal.
5. To enhance the flavour of brown (which some people may not like), you can try cooking it in coconut water instead of plain water. This adds a sweet, nutty taste.
Out of all the healthy rice varieties, you can take your pick according to your daily calorie intake or even choose to experiment with different types of rice on different days.