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Is Brown Rice Keto-Friendly?

brown rice on the keto dietIf you’re following the keto diet, you’ve probably written off a number of carb-heavy foods, and rice is likely one of them. Since rice is a whole grain, it’s a no-no on the list of keto-friendly foods.

Let’s dig deeper into brown rice to find out what makes it a poor choice for the keto diet, despite its relatively high nutritional value.

What is Brown Rice?

There are plenty of different types of rice, including brown rice. But while there may be a number of different varieties, they’re all grains, which is generally considered off-limits for keto dieters.

Besides brown rice, other variations include:

  • White rice
  • Wild rice
  • Jasmine rice
  • Black rice
  • Basmati rice

All of these have a relatively high carb count because they’re all grains. But despite their similarities in this department, some are better for your health than others, and brown rice is generally considered healthier than white rice.

That’s because white rice has been stripped of much of its fiber while other variations – including brown rice – have much more fiber. Fiber is nutritionally essential because it not only helps with digestion, but also helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Brown rice is also high in manganese and magnesium and has also been linked to better cholesterol levels (1).

Nutritional Makeup of Brown Rice

Half a cup of brown rice has the following nutritional makeup:

Calories: 109

Carbs: 23g

Protein: 2.3g

Fat: 0.8g

Is Brown Rice Keto-Friendly?

As you can see from the nutritional information above, there’s quite a high level of carbs in just a small 1/2 cup serving. In fact, half a cup of brown rice has about twice the carb count as one slice of bread and the same carb count as one medium sweet potato.

Even though health experts agree that complex carbs are the much healthier choice over simple carbs, it’s a food that only those who are looking to add healthy carbs to their diet should choose.

If you’re on the keto diet, you’re trying to minimize carbs, so brown rice isn’t exactly a food that should be part of your repertoire.

In fact, when it comes to ultra-low carb diets, things like rice should be the first foods to go. If you must have rice, you may be able to sneak it in only if you’ve had zero carbs in any other foods that you’ve consumed throughout the day.

So, if brown rice is not a keto-friendly food, what can you eat on a ketogenic diet if you love rice-based dishes?

Alternatives to Rice on the Keto Diet

If you love your rice and are having a tough time staying away from it in the name of maintaining a state of ketosis, you’ll be happy to know that there are delicious alternatives that have very similar texture to traditional rice.

And with the right ingredients and seasonings added, they can almost taste like rice, too.

Veggie-based “rice” can provide the perfect low-carb base to traditional rice-based recipes, like paella and stir-fry.

Here are a few options for you to try that significantly cut down on the carbs and calorie content but are surprisingly satisfying.

1. Cauliflower rice

Perhaps the more popular alternative to traditional rice is cauliflower rice. You can even use it to make low-carb pizza crust along with some cheese and eggs. Topped with some sauce and cheese, you probably won’t even notice a difference!

These days, you may even find cauliflower that’s already been ground up into rice-like pieces in the grocery store for ease and convenience. Otherwise, cauliflower can be easily made by tossing the florets into a food processor or run across a cheese grater.

Cauliflower is not only super low in carbs, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse (2).

As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is loaded in vitamin C and possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be linked to a lower risk of developing certain cancers.

Cauliflower may also be useful in improving digestion and balancing hormones (3).

2. Cabbage rice

A food processor can come in really handy to make rice alternatives, and you can rub cabbage through the device as well. Of course, a cheese grater always works, too.

You can choose either white or red cabbage, though red cabbage is higher in vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. That said, you might prefer the looks of white cabbage instead (3).

Cabbage is even lower in carbs than cauliflower, making it a fantastic option. Half a cup of shredded red cabbage has just 4.1g compared to the whopping 23g of brown rice.

You can use cabbage rice in fried rice dishes, stews, and casseroles.

3. Shirataki rice

Dubbed “miracle rice,” shirataki rice is nicknamed as such because of how similar it is to rice but without all the calories and carbs. In fact, it’s virtually calorie-free.

This type of rice is made from konjac flour from the konnyaku plant roots.

The reason why it has no calories is because it’s made of soluble fiber that basically results in zero net carbs.

In addition to being void of calories, it’s also good for digestion, helps promote healthier cholesterol levels, and is a great source of iron.

Shirataki rice typically comes conveniently packaged and ready to use, and can be found in most health food stores.

It should be noted that shirataki rice may cause mild digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, and loose stools, especially if consumed in larger quantities (4).

4. Rutabaga rice

Rutabaga is also a cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower and is actually classified as a root vegetable. It’s often used as an alternative for potatoes because of its texture, but can also be used in place of rice when shredded.

Like cabbage rice, rutabaga rice only has about 4.5g of carbs per half-cup serving, so it’s super low in carbs, making it a great option for keto dieters. The veggie is also¬†loaded in vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Take any one of these brown rice alternatives and use it to create any one of your favorite comfort foods, but with far fewer carbs and calories!

Final Thoughts

As you may have suspected, brown rice is not keto-friendly. While it may be healthy and full of good stuff, it’s not conducive to a low-carb lifestyle.

Luckily, however, there are plenty of other low-carb options that you can consider using in place of brown rice so you can still enjoy your favorite dishes without compromising your ketogenic state.

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