Rice is a popular food that people all over the world use as a part of their meals. Although rice pairs well with many different dishes, it is high in carbs. In fact, most types of rice contain 45 or more grams of carbs in each cup. This takes most rice off the table for the keto diet.
When you are on the keto diet, you need to keep your carb count under 50 grams of carbs per day. Unfortunately, rice is likely to kick you out of ketosis. In addition, white rice is made of refined carbs and goes through a process where dietary fibers and nutrition are essentially removed.
However, brown rice, wild rice, basmati rice, and a few others have some health benefits. It is important to understand these health benefits and look at some great low-carb options that you can use in place of rice when you eat keto.
Does Rice Have Health Benefits?
You may not be able to eat rice when you are on the keto diet, but it does have some health benefits. Rice is high in manganese and magnesium, and it can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and improve your cholesterol levels.
Although rice is high in carbs, white rice has over four grams of protein and brown rice has five grams in one cup. Rice has B vitamins, such as thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin, and iron. It is one of the best sources of manganese and magnesium.
Manganese helps with antioxidant and enzyme roles in the body so that you metabolize food better. It is also beneficial to cognitive function and helps to encourage weight loss. Magnesium is necessary so that your body produces energy. It improves the function of your nerves and helps to regulate your blood sugar levels. Magnesium supports your bones, nerves, and muscles.
In addition, it helps you with digestion, insomnia, anxiety, and your sleep cycle, and it can aid in regulating your potassium, sodium, and calcium levels. It can also assist in regulating blood pressure, bone and muscle development, and protein synthesis.
Can I Eat Rice on the Keto Diet?
You can’t eat rice on the keto diet because you run the risk of getting kicked out of ketosis. The keto diet is all about reducing carbs and increasing your intake of healthy fats and protein. This helps you transition your body from using glucose for energy to using ketones from fat.
When you reduce your carb intake, your body will use up any remaining stored glucose and then start making ketones. Generally speaking, you need to avoid rice.
Are There Keto-Friendly Substitutes for Rice?
Fortunately, there are some keto-friendly alternatives to rice that you can eat with your meals. You can actually create dishes that mimic the texture and some of the features of rice. There are a number of vegetables that can be put through your food processor to take on a similar shape to rice, and you can combine them with your meals.
One of the best vegetables to use is cauliflower. People actually call it cauliflower rice because it takes on the flavor of the food it is mixed with, and it takes on a texture that is very similar to rice. You can combine it with Mexican dishes, Thai dishes, and any other dishes that typically take rice.
Cauliflower rice looks very similar to white rice, and one cup has just four grams of carbs. Use it as a base for your stew, or eat it by itself with butter. It is so delicious that you won’t even realize that you have cut rice out of your diet.
Shirataki rice is also called Miracle Rice, and it is made with flour and prepared from the root of the konnyaku plant. In one three-ounce serving, you get 10 calories and one net carb. Shirataki rice is made up of soluble fiber, which helps you feel full and assists your body indigestion. You can eat it with your stew or on the side.
Rutabagas are a root vegetable that can be used as a low-carb substitute for rice (or potatoes). It has nine grams of net carbs in one cup, as well as two grams of protein and good vitamins. This allows you to get the nutrients you need and keep your carb count where it needs to be.
Broccoli is another cruciferous vegetable similar to its cousin cauliflower. One cup of broccoli has just four grams of carbs, and you can chop it up in the food processor to get a texture that is similar to rice. It tastes delicious in a stir fry or mixed with vegetables.
If you have a spiralizer, you can spiral strands of zucchini and use it to replace rice and other starchy foods such as pasta. One cup has only four grams of carbs, and you can use it as a substitute in just about any rice dish you can think of.
What Rice Alternatives Should I Avoid?
There are other starchy substitutes of rice that you need to avoid on the keto diet because they are high in carbs. The important thing is to know which foods are going to help you stay in ketosis, and which ones will possibly throw you out. There are a lot of delicious substitutes that you can eat in place of rice, but you will want to avoid any of the following.
The serving size for potatoes is one medium-sized potato, and it contains 37 grams of carbs. It only has 4.5 grams of dietary fiber, which leaves you with 32.5 grams of net carbs. Potatoes do have 4 grams of protein and less than one gram of fat, but the carb count is enough to risk going out of ketosis, so you need to skip the potatoes.
Although sweet potatoes contain fewer carbs than their cousins, they still have around 23.6 grams of carbs in each serving. They contain 3.8 grams of fiber, which leaves you with nearly 20 grams of net carbs. The other issue is that sweet potatoes have a high ranking on the glycemic index, coming in at 63.
Lentils are a type of legume, along with chickpeas, soy, and beans. Lentils have a lot of fiber, but they are also high in carbs. One cup of cooked lentils contains 36 grams of carbs, as well as 14 grams of fiber. This leaves you with just about 22 grams of carbs, which is still high enough to potentially kick you out of ketosis. The problem is that if you have any other carbs, you could easily go over your total. You will want to avoid lentils and all legumes on the keto diet.
Quinoa is another grain to avoid on keto. It is gluten-free, but it is high in carbs. You will get 40 grams of carbs in every cup. For this reason, you need to stay away from quinoa when you are on the keto diet.
Use a Substitute
In spite of the health benefits of some types of rice, it is too high in carbs to be compatible with the keto diet. Rice is a versatile food that people include in many different meals, so you will want a good substitute. Fortunately, there are plenty of vegetables that will do well in its place.