By : Komal Thakur (Pharmacist, Naturopath, Health & Fitness Enthusiast)
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Rice- To eat or not to eat?

The first thing people do when they want to shed some kilos is just quit rice. I was always amazed at this because if you see the nutrient content and calorie count, ideally it should not have any impact on gain or loss unless you eat a kilo every day. Well, for that matter excess of anything will give you the same result- Empty calories but full weight. Who wants a piece of that? Some empty calories might end up making you feel good like chocolates, ice-creams and a cheese burst pizza, but I dare you to eat bucket loads every day and tell me how good you feel. Chances are you won’t and you will want to come back to your staple dal & rice.

 

Rice has been the comfort food for not just Indians, but the entire Asian population. How did this become a controversial topic, whether or not to eat it? What really happens is , once a fad starts and then it just catches on. Most of the times people do not consider taking advice from their doctor or a dietician, but instead follow something just because someone else did it.

 

Someone said that brown rice are better than white rice, and then the sales of brown rice shot up. We need to really stop, read, educate ourselves and analyze things based on our own experiences, facts and also knowledge of our own body.

 

What is the difference between brown rice and white rice? White rice is just an over polished version of brown rice. Does that mean brown rice is better or will help with weight loss? No, brown rice will have the same number of calories, it will be higher in fiber content because of the unpolished bran layer and the cereal germ. Both of which are undoubtedly healthy components. So where are we on this rice eating debate? Let us sort it out with the help of an actual conversation that I came across.

 

Guy: I want to lose my unhealthy weight and also gain more muscle. What is the best way?

Dietician: What do you mean unhealthy weight?

Guy: I feel that my body has more fat and less muscle?

Dietician: How did you reach that conclusion?

Guy: I checked my weight on a smart scale and it diagnosed me with low protein and muscle but more fat.

Dietician: Ok, first of all , it’s a good thing that you want to become more healthier and want to get a fitter body. However, do you have any underlying health conditions or are you experiencing any health issues?

Guy: No, not really. I sometimes just feel very lazy. But that maybe because I eat rice for lunch and dinner.

Dietician: Rice does not make you lazy. Chances are that you have a healthy weight too, but let us plan a diet to make get you the muscles you want.

Guy: What is healthy weight?

Dietician: Healthy weight is when you do not experience any health issues and you generally feel fit and your reports also do not diagnose an underlying health issue.

Guy: So how do I get more lean and more muscle?

Dietician: What do you consume in a typical day?

Guy: I generally eat a healthy breakfast which is either cooked or I eat breakfast cereal. Lunch and dinner is mostly rice with loads of vegetable. I rarely eat outside.

Dietician: So the best way to go ahead is increase the consumption of fruits, a few dry fruits and maybe add a simple protein powder like GRD to your diet and initiate cardio and weights to firm up your muscles.

Guy: But my friends told me to quit rice and also add more non-veg to my diet.

Dietician: Have you eaten rice as your staple food since childhood?

Guy: Yes, pretty much. Every single day at least once I have consumed rice.

Dietician: Then your protein needs as well as energy needs will be taken care of by Rice. Rice does not add to any bad weight. Rice are practically cholesterol free, yes they have some carbohydrates and excess can be cut off if you have an underlying condition. But in a healthy individual, eating rice everyday will not lead to any harmful implications.

Guy: Should I move to brown rice, since it’s a major component of my diet?

Dietician: Yes, if the taste of brown rice is ok with you. It will surely increase the fiber content and keep you feeling full for a longer time.

Guy: So I can continue with the white rice too?

Dietician: Yes you can continue eating it because your goal is to gain the muscle and maintain your health. Make sure you eat more vegetables along with it to get the necessary vitamins and minerals. Rice have the necessary amounts of sodium and potassium too, however all the other vitamins need to be obtained from the vegetables and fruits. You can reduce the quantity of rice and balance it out with the vegetables, dal and curd. No need to stop it completely.

Guy: Is it possible to reduce the carbohydrate or the starch levels in the rice?

Dietician: Yes, you need to soak the rice in water for 30 minutes prior to cooking. Boil the rice in excessive water until cooked. Drain the excess water. This will drain out most of the starch and hence cut the carbs.

Guy: So it is safe to consume rice in a decent quantity without feeling guilty?

Dietician: Yes, absolutely. One bowl of rice per meal for a healthy individual trying to gain or lose weight. It’s a healthy additive. Only the diabetics or individuals with severe heart issues need to limit the quantities. If an individual is trying to lose weight, rice will not impact your weight loss in a massive way, if the quantities are kept in check.

Rice has the healthy protein, good fat and good carbohydrates. It has the necessary macronutrients in place. So make sure you get your micro nutrients from the fruits and vegetables you consume and you are good to go.

 

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