I wanted to know the exact answer to the age old question, “What’s the meaning of life?”
But I couldn’t find an answer for that. So instead I set my sights on rice:
- Is it good for us? Bad for us?
- How do different types of rice affect me?
- What wins, brown rice vs white rice?
- Did Mitch Hedberg ever make it onto a Rice Krispies box? RIP.
After all, we get questions about rice ALL the time:
“Steve I’m Paleo but I hear rice isn’t that bad for you, help?”
“Why do you eat white rice at Chipotle? I hear white rice is way worse for you than brown rice. Just like white vs wheat bread!”
“Is it okay to eat rice and not anger the Paleo Gods?”
Let’s unlock this mystery of the universe.
Is Rice Healthy For Me?
Depending on how you want to feel about rice, you can point to either of the following studies:
People that live in Okinawa (home to Mr. Miyagi!), the highest life expectancy on the planet, eat a lot of rice. Rice HAS to be good for you then. Team Rice!
People of the Marshall Islands, home to one of the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes (pdf) on the planet, eat a lot of rice. Rice is the devil! Team No Rice!
Feel free to pick one of the above studies to show that you’re right and superior compared to the other team. It’s like opposing political parties (rice vs no rice) that staunchly follow party lines.
Now, if you have’t made up your mind on rice (you’re an independent!), or you’ve been avoiding it because, Paleo, keep reading. Or maybe you’re up for, gasp, changing parties!
Let’s dig into this election! Feel free to listen to “Hail to the Chief (but just the part you know)” while reading the rest of this.
Rice is technically is a seed of the grass species. It comes in many varieties, it’s a grain that doesn’t contain gluten (unlike some other grains), and its macronutrient breakdown is generally something like (in 1 cup of cooked rice):
- 200ish calories
- 0-1 gram of fat
- 45ish g of carbohydrates
- 4-5 grams of protein
Now, depending on how you currently view your diet, you might have a few key thoughts looking at that list above. “45 grams of carbs! That’s bad! Carbs are bad because I read it somewhere! Rice? Ah!”
The reality is this: carbs are neither inherently good nor bad. Kind of like The Force in Star Wars; the Force can be used for good or evil purposes, but it’s inherently neutral: quantity and quality matter.
Rice can be part of a bad (unhealthy) or good (healthy) diet completely dependent upon your goals and lifestyle:
- Are you in the process of building muscle and getting bigger? Rice is a cheap source of high calorie, high-carbohydrate food, easily digestible and helpful in running a caloric surplus.
- Trying to lose weight? You might be trying to lose weight and find that eating a lot of rice is putting you over your calorie and carb goals for the day, so you may choose to eat less or avoid the food entirely.
At the end of the day, consuming more calories than you burn will add weight to your frame in the long term, and vice versa: this is Food Science 101, and it will be on your midterm exam.
Now, obviously it’s not the whole story (quality and type of calories are important too). There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with rice.
What’s the Difference Between Brown Rice and White Rice?