White rice is a staple food for most Indians and consumed on a daily basis in a majority of households all over the world, so it’s hard to imagine life without white rice (not exaggerating at all!). But many health experts consider white rice to be “not okay” for your weight loss goals and it’s not just about the calories or carb content. White rice is a refined food, ripped off most of its fiber content during the refining and polishing process and what you get is a large chunk of carbs that can get your weight up, when you consume it without any sort of portion control and with complete lack of physical activity. White rice is one food item (the other being “refined sugar” of course) that people are often advised to give up if they want to lose weight because white rice (polished one) causes rapid spike in insulin level which leads to conversion of carbs into glucose, raising your blood sugar eventually. When extra blood sugar accumulates, insulin converts sugar into fat and decides to store them up for future use, and most often, it’s around the belly area! Since refined grains such as white rice go through the digestion process quickly with their low fiber content, rapid insulin spike takes place, and insulin creates new fat cells, which eventually leads to weight gain and obesity. In this post, we list out 11 Healthy Alternatives for White Rice for Weight Loss.
Why White Rice is not Okay For Weight Loss:
1. White has a high glycemic index, gets digested quickly, causes insulin spikes, leading to rapid rise in blood sugar level.
2. White rice has a high carb content and also low on other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and of course fiber. It adds minimal nutrient value compared to other varieties of rice.
3. A little high in calories.
4. Regular consumption of polished white rice is thought to be a trigger for metabolic disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Healthy Alternatives for White Rice to Lose Weight:
When we are looking at healthy alternatives for white rice with regards to weight loss and for good health in general, we should take a few factors into consideration – high fiber content, calorie count, and overall nutrient value. Another important factor is low glycemic index that would keep the blood sugar levels in check too.
Why Fiber is So Important in Weight Loss?
Fiber is a category of nutrients that does not break up into sugar molecules, rather it passes down into the gut unbroken, and helps feed the healthy bacteria in the gut with nutrients. Healthy bacterial colonies are essential to maintain a healthy gut for better absorption of nutrients and vitamins into the body. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet because it helps to maintain a healthy digestive system, clears constipation, regulate blood sugar levels, and also to control appetite. Fiber helps to reduce appetite, reduces belly fat, and thus helps with weight loss too.Fiber helps to treat constipation and other digestive system related issues. Most importantly, fiber reduces the risk of colon cancer. Soluble fiber, combines with water to form a gel-like component that slows down the release of digested food into the gut. Soluble fiber also helps the friendly bacteria that exist in the intestines thrive well and these bacterial flora helps with better absorption of vitamins and nutrients into the bloodstream from the small intestine. This process is called fermentation which releases short chain fatty acids which can in turn reduce belly fat. Fiber also helps reduce appetite to a great extent by regulating the production of hunger hormone “ghrelin.” Fiber content also reduces one’s appetite by slowing the movement of food through the gut. Since fiber has low glycemic index, it also does not spike up insulin and thus reduces the chance of extra calories getting stored up as fat in the body.
In this post, we have listed out some of the best alternatives for white rice if it’s a staple in your cuisine.
1. Brown Rice: Brown rice is the most favored replacement for white rice and any health expert would push it as the best replacement for health reasons too because it does not go through the polishing process and keeps its fiber and nutrient content intact. It keeps you full for long and has a lesser calorie count compared to white rice. Brown rice has 111 calories per 100 gm, so can’t give up on rice? Then, give up the color, switch from white to brown.
2. Cauliflower Rice: Missing rice on a low-carb diet – no probs, the low-carb cauliflower can take care of that craving, and without adding too many calories. You would stock up on cauliflower if we told you that it has just 25 calories per 100 gm. So, just grate the cauliflower florets into rice consistency and make whatever you want out of it – from pulao to biryani, the options are endless.
3. Quinoa: If you can’t spell “quinoa” as “keen-wah,” that’s just okay because quinoa has a very low glycemic index and is great news for your weight loss journey. It is also high in fiber and protein content, in fact, it is one of the best “plant-based” protein sources and that’s Rati Beauty diet programs extensively use quinoa in our recipes. It’s a super grain with metabolism-boosting enzyme called betaine and also lysine which is an amino acid which aids in fat burning. We just want you to ignore the calorie count of quinoa which is 222 calories per 100 gm because it definitely packs so much nutrition for the body in that count.
4. Amaranth Millet: Or rajgira, is the Indian equivalent of quinoa because it is gluten free, loaded with protein and fiber content. Rajgira is extensively used during Navratri vrat fasting to replace rice and wheat in dishes. It is rich in minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorous along with dietary fiber which keeps one full for longer. There’s about 103 calories in 100 gm of this millet.
5. Barnyard Millet: Also called samvat ke chawal, it has the highest fiber content among millets and that makes it ideal for people who want to lose weight through a healthy diet. It is also rich in calcium and other minerals. Calories per 100 gm – 342 kcal.
6. Buckwheat Millet: Rati Beauty Diet programs uses millets extensively as a healthy way to make you lose weight without of course compromising on nutrition. Buckwheat, or kuttu, is a good replacement for wheat as well as rice in diet because it’s gluten free and has high protein content along with calcium, iron, potassium content. Buckwheat also is a good replacement for quinoa and helps you in losing weight effectively, without compromising on nutrition. It is a favorite among diabetics because it helps regulate blood sugar levels. You can also make buckwheat porridge, pulao or as Russian kasha. Calories per 100 gm – 378.
7. Foxtail millet: Also known as kangni in hindi and korralu down south, it is hugely popular among people who want to lose weight as well as control their blood sugar levels. Majority of health conscious people have even replaced “suji” with foxtail millet in their upma. It is also considered as the best replacement for rice since it is rich in fiber, low in carbs, with minerals such as copper and iron. Calories per 100 gm – 473 kcal.
8. Kodo – It’s also known as kodra millet. It is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. It regulates menstrual cycle and also reduces joint pain. Calories per 100 gm – 309 kcal.
9. Little millet – It is also called vari. It is rich in iron, protein, zinc, calcium, and B vitamins. It’s also great for weight loss because of its high fat content along with fiber value. Calories per 100 gm – 207 kcal.
10. Proso millet – It’s also called barri or chena in Hindi. This high-protein millet is also a great source of B vitamins like thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, niacin along with vitamin E, and oh, not to forget dietary fiber. Minerals are also there in this millet, such as phosphorus, manganese, iron and potassium. Calories per 100 gm – 378 calories.
11. Sorghum – Jowar, is a rich source of iron, protein, fiber, it is also has policosanols that also lowers cholesterol. Another amazing thing is that it boosts immunity and helps in fighting off infections. It’s hard to believe, but jowar millet can be cooked like rice and taken along with your favorite dal. To give it a rice-like consistency, take one portion of jowar seeds in a grinder, get it to granular texture. Then, heat some water in a cooking vessel, add the jowar granules along with salt and cook it just like rice. With its high antioxidant levels, it’s a good idea to include jowar in your diet. Rich in protein, it also regulates blood sugar levels. Like all other millets in this list, it is also gluten free. Calories 329 calories per 100 gm.
If you had to pick a replacement for white rice, which one would you choose from the above-mentioned list? Do let us know in the comments below.