Is Brown Rice Low-Carb? No! But you Can Have it…

RICE LOVER? You’re here to know whether brown rice is low-carb and if you can have it, right?

As stated in this blog post, let me tell you quickly that brown rice is not low-carb, but you can have it on your low carb or keto diet if you read this article carefully

For this purpose, 

  • I’ll help you educate yourself about brown rice in a true sense. 
  • I’ll also share the portion sizes of brown rice to incorporate them in your daily diet. 
  • Let’s get a bit excited because I’ll also share a few effective tips to reduce carbohydrates and calories in your rice by 50%.

Why should you trust me?

I’ve been a mindful eater for several years who knows what is on their plate. I’ve educated myself about macros and micronutrients in different foods. My years of extensive research about food and different diets have enabled me to live healthily. I especially favor low-carb diets as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

So please carefully read this article, especially the coming sections, for they’re the cornerstone of this most informative article on “Is brown rice low carb.” 

Besides this, I’ll also share a few more tips to reduce the carbohydrates in your brown rice serving.

Understanding Low-Carb Food in True Sense

Let’s begin with understanding carbohydrates and how much they’re in brown rice.

Understanding carbohydrates and low carb diet purpose?

Carbohydrates are one of the 3 main macronutrients, along with protein and fat. When we consume carbohydrates, they’re broken down into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. It causes glucose spikes in the blood.

As soon as blood glucose levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin to regulate blood sugar. Insulin signals the muscles and fat cells to absorb glucose. This glucose is utilized by the cells as an energy source or can be converted into fat for future storage.

However, when your cells don’t respond to insulin properly (known as insulin resistance), the glucose remains in the blood. It causes the hardening of vessels which ultimately damages the organs.

In this context, a low-carb diet helps in lowering blood glucose levels and subsequently lower insulin levels.  

The goal of a low-carb diet varies from individual to individual. Some people adopt a low-carb diet to support weight loss and manage conditions like obesity or metabolic syndrome. Others may choose a low-carb approach to better control blood sugar levels in diabetes or to address insulin resistance.

There is no one standard fixed to define low-carb food. However, most low-carb diets limit carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams daily. 

What is meant by low glycemic or low GI food?

“Low glycemic” or “low GI” refers to the classification of foods based on their impact on blood sugar levels after consumption. The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-containing foods based on how quickly they cause blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise compared to a reference food, typically pure glucose or white bread.

The GI scale ranges from 0 to 100, with the following classifications:

Likewise, the GLYNDIET study further confirms that a low GI diet significantly reduces BMI and fasting insulin. This impact of a low GI diet is regardless of age. So, low GI foods are generally more satisfying, sustain the release of energy, and aid in controlling appetite, insulin resistance, and weight.

  • Medium GI (56-69): Foods increase blood sugar levels and insulin secretion moderately.
  • High GI (70 or higher): Foods that are rapidly digested and absorbed, leading to a sharp increase in blood sugar levels and a higher insulin response.

It means that

Low-carb foods necessarily have low GI. Yet carb-rich foods can have medium to high GI value. Because of this, high carb foods with low GI value can be OK on a low carb or keto diet, with some essential dietary modifications.

Understanding Brown Rice

Now that you’ve known about carbohydrates and the GI value of foods, we can further understand brown rice’s carbohydrate content and glycemic index.  

What is brown rice?

Brown rice is a whole grain rice with bran and germ layers, giving it a distinct nutty flavor and chewy texture. Its distinct characteristics include higher fiber content, more vitamins and minerals, and a lower glycemic index compared to white rice.

What’s the nutritional composition of brown rice?

The nutritional composition of 100 grams of uncooked brown rice might vary slightly depending on the specific variety and brand. However, here is an overview of the approximate nutritional values:

  • Calories: Around 370 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 77 grams
  • Protein: Roughly 7.5 grams
  • Fat: About 2 grams
  • Fiber: Around 3.5 grams

What’s the glycemic index of brown rice?

The glycemic index (GI) of brown rice is 55, which is considered a low-GI food. A GI value of 55 or less shows that the food will cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels after eating. This is in contrast to high GI foods, which make your blood sugar levels spike rapidly after eating.

HENCE
Brown rice is high carb but low GI rice which have shown excellent affects to reduce body fat and blood glucose levels

Comparing Rice Types Carbohydrates Content and Glycemic Index 

Not all rice types are the same. Some of them have alarmingly higher glycemic index values, while others do not. Below is the table for a quick overview of how different rice types compare for their carb ratio and GI value according to Glycemic-Index.net.

Rice TypeCarbohydrate Content (g/100g – uncooked)Carbohydrate Content (g/100g – cooked)Glycemic Index Value
Basmati Rice7828 grams50
Black Rice7232.5 to 33.3 grams42.3
Brown Rice7623.5 grams50
Jasmine Rice8132 grams60
Long grain Rice7924 grams28
Red Rice7323 grams55
Sticky Rice7835.7 grams90
Wild Rice7521 grams45
White Rice7728 grams70

So, keeping the GI and carb content chart for rice types in view, it’s clear that wild rice and black rice have the lowest glycemic index; brown rice and basmati rice have low GI, long grain rice and Jasmine rice have moderate GI. While sticky rice, white rice, and instant rice have the highest GI rice.

So, if you want to enjoy eating rice by incorporating it into your low carb diet, you can.

How?

Keep reading, I’ll be unlocking secrets to reducing carbs in your brown rice.

So, how much brown rice or other low-carb low GI rice can you add to your daily low-carb/keto diet?

Why does Brown Rice Have Low Glycemic Index?

Brown rice records a low GI because of less processing, which helps retain its natural fiber content and benefits health.

The following factors contribute to the low glycemic index of brown rice:

Fiber content

Brown rice contains higher amounts of dietary fiber, including insoluble and soluble fiber, than white rice. Fiber helps with the absorption of carbohydrates by slowing down digestion, which leads to the gradual and controlled release of glucose into the bloodstream.

Bran layer

Brown rice retains its bran layer, which is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The bran layer slows down the digestion of starch in the rice, resulting in a lower GI.

Processing

Brown rice undergoes minimal processing, with only the inedible outer husk removed. On the other hand, white rice undergoes additional processing steps that remove the bran and germ layers, stripping away much of its fiber content. This processing increases the GI of white rice compared to brown rice.

It’s important to note that the cooking method and individual variations can also affect the glycemic response to rice. Adding healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables to a meal containing brown rice can further lower the overall glycemic load of the meal.

How Much Brown Rice can you Have on a Low Carb or Keto Diet?

Honestly, low-carb diets aren’t too brutal. They don’t ask you to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet completely. What they advise is to eat fewer carbs as far as they fit in the macros of your daily intake.

Below is a detailed table for how much brown, wild rice, black rice, or red can you eat without kicking your diet protocols.

How much cooked brown rice and other low-carb, low-GI rice on a low-carb diet?

Low-carb diet protocol requires you to restrict your daily carbs intake to 10-25%, which means:

  • 1000 calorie diet allows you to eat 100-250 calories from carbs.
  • 1200 calorie diet allows you to eat 150-300 carb calories
  • 1400 calorie diet allows you to eat 140-350 carb calories
  • 1500 calorie diet allows you to eat 150-375 carbs calories
  • 1600 calorie diet allows you to eat 160-400 calories from carbs.
  • 1800 calorie diet allows you to eat 180-450 carb calories
  • 2000 calorie diet allows you to eat 200-500 carb calories
  • 2200 calorie diet allows you to eat 220-550 carbs calories
  • 2500 calorie diet allows you to eat 250-625 carbs calories

NOTE: Low-carb diet experts and coaches like Dr. Berg favor the idea that fiber-rich vegetable carbs shouldn’t be counted on.

Here is a table to help you know how much cooked brown and other rice you can include in your diet, when not eating any other carbs except veggies. 

Every gram of carb gives you 4 calories, which means: 

  • 100 grams of wild rice with 21g total carbs give you  21 X 4 = 84 calories 
  • 100 grams of brown rice with 23.5g total carbs give you  23.5 X 4 = 94 calories 
  • 100 grams of red rice with 23g total carbs give you  23 X 4 = 92 calories 
  • 100 grams of black rice with 33.3g total carbs give you  133.3 X 4 = 133 calories 
  • 100 grams of long grain rice with 24g total carbs give you  24 X 4 = 96 calories 

Hence the calculations for daily carb calorie allowance for low carb diet goes on, allowing you to eat each rice type in grams

Diet CaloriesWild Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Brown Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Red Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Black Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Long Grain Rice (cooked & weighed in grams)
1000 120-315106-266109-27275-187105-260
1200142-375127-320130-33090-225127-320
1400166-417149-372152-380105-262149-372
1500177-447160-395163-407113-281159-398
1600190-476170-425174-430120-300170-420
1800214-535 191-478 196-490135-337192-468
2000240-590213-532217-543150-375210-520
2200262-714234-585240-597165-412229-572
2500297-744266-665271-680187-467263-650
This table is for plain cooked rice.

It’s best to eat the rice following the lower limit on a low carb diet so that you can add some other healthy carbs to your diet as well.

How much cooked brown rice and other low carbs low, GI rice on a Keto Diet?

The Keto diet protocol requires you to restrict your daily carbs intake to 5-10%, which means:

  • 1000 calorie diet allows you to eat 50-100 calories from carbs.
  • 1200 calorie diet allows you to eat 60-120 carb calories
  • 1400 calorie diet allows you to eat 70-140 carb calories
  • 1500 calorie diet allows you to eat 75-150 carbs calories
  • 1600 calorie diet allows you to eat 80-160 calories from carbs.
  • 1800 calorie diet allows you to eat 90-180 carb calories
  • 2000 calorie diet allows you to eat 100-200 carb calories
  • 2200 calorie diet allows you to eat 110-220 carbs calories
  • 2500 calorie diet allows you to eat 125-250 carbs calories

Here is a table to give you a clear idea of how much cooked plain rice you can eat daily when following a Keto diet.

Diet CaloriesWild Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Brown Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Red Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Black Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
Long Grain Rice
(cooked & weighed in grams)
1000 60-120 53-10654-10937-7552-105
120071-14263-127115-13045-9063-127
140083-16674-14976-15252-10574-149
150088.5-17780-16081-16356-11379-159
160095-19085-17087-17460-12085-170
1800107-214 95-191 98-19667-13596-192
2000120-240106-213109-21775-150105-210
2200131-262117-234120-24082-165114-229
2500148-297133-266135-27193-187131-263
This table is for plain cooked rice.

Note

I’ll advise you to maintain a lower rice intake ratio for this table so that you can consume other low carb foods like nuts as well. OR, if you like to eat rice on a Keto diet, you can skip eating other carb foods on that day, except veggies.

Tips for Reducing Carbohydrates in Brown Rice or Other Rice Varieties?

Using some methods, you can cut the rice calories up to 50%.

Here are a few research-based tips to reduce calories and carbs in your rice.

Use coconut oil when cooking rice and refrigerate it for 12 hours.

According to a study published in the journal “Food Chemistry”, adding coconut oil to rice while cooking can reduce the number of calories in the rice by up to 60%. This is because coconut oil helps to convert some of the starch in the rice into resistant starch, a type of starch that is not digested by the body.

Low-carb diet experts appreciate scientists’ findings in Sri Lanka about rice carbs/calorie reduction. These findings suggest that refrigerating (cooling) the cooked rice for 12 hours causes a chemical reaction between starch and turns it into resistant starch. This is why the carbs’ effectiveness or, in other words, the insulin resistance reduces, and you have no insulin spike. 

To give it a go and lower the carb and calorie count in your rice, here’s what you can do:

  1. Take 1 cup of rice.
  2. Toss in the rice with the 1tbs coconut oil in a pot of boiling water.
  3. Lower the heat and let it simmer for around 20-25 minutes until the rice is soft inside the grain and cooked.
  4. Once it’s done, drain any extra water and let the rice cool down completely.
  5. Pop it in the fridge and let it sit there for at least 12 hours.
  6. After this refrigeration period, the resistant starch will have formed, and when you eat the rice, your body won’t be able to digest as many calories.

You can follow a few more tips to reduce carbs and calories in your brown rice.

  • Rinse the rice. Before cooking, wash out the rice in cold water so that the water runs clear. It’ll help to remove some of the starch and bran, which can contribute to the carbohydrate content.
  • Soak the rice. Soaking the rice for 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking will help to break down some of the starch, making it easier to digest.

Now, don’t expect this to be some magical solution for weight loss-be. Mindful of your rice intake. It’s just a handy way to cut down on the calories in your diet if you’re trying to shed some pounds or maintain a healthy weight.

Give it a shot and see how it works for you!

What are Some Other Health Benefits of Brown Rice?

Brown rice, a whole grain variety, offers numerous health advantages compared to refined white rice. Below are some of the benefits associated with incorporating brown rice into your diet:

Abundant in nutrients

Brown rice retains the bran and germ layers, which contain a wealth of nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It provides essential minerals like magnesium, selenium, manganese, and B vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, and vitamin B6.

Rich in fiber

Brown rice serves as an exceptional source of dietary fiber. The bran layer of brown rice contains insoluble fiber that supports healthy digestion, prevents constipation, and encourages regular bowel movements. 

A diet high in fiber can also contribute to a decreased risk of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer.

Assists in weight management

The higher fiber intake helps promote weight loss. It’s where brown rice wins. It curbs overeating and supports a healthy metabolism–thanks to higher fiber content. Additionally, the complex carbohydrates in brown rice provide a sustained release of energy, helping to prevent sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.

Supports heart health

Brown rice intake has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. The fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals present in brown rice can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, maintain healthy blood pressure, and diminish the likelihood of cardiovascular problems. 

Likewise, studies suggest that a component found in the outer layer of brown rice grains possesses properties that can counteract angiotensin II, a protein widely recognized as a contributing factor in the onset of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Facilitates diabetes management

Brown rice’ low glycemic index makes it a beneficial choice for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition. Studies have demonstrated that the increased fiber found in brown rice plays a role in slowing down the absorption of glucose, effectively averting abrupt surges in blood sugar levels.

Enhances digestion

The fiber in brown rice increases the volume of stool, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Additionally, it acts as a prebiotic, fostering a healthy gut microbiota and stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon.

May reduce the risk of certain cancers

Brown rice contains antioxidants and phytochemicals with anticancer properties. Researchers have indicated that regular consumption of brown rice may help lower the risk of specific types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

Please remember that brown rice provides these health benefits; portion control remains crucial due to its caloric content. Furthermore, individual dietary needs and health conditions should be considered when determining the appropriate inclusion of brown rice in one’s diet.

Final Thoughts

Brown rice and some other high-fiber rice varieties like black, red, and wild rice have carbohydrates. Yet, by considering their low glycemic index and adjusting them in the macros of your low-carb or keto diet, you can enjoy eating them.

I hope this article has been helpful to you. Let me know how you incorporate high-fiber rice in your diet and how has been your experience with it.

Please use the comment section to share your valuable thoughts.

Enjoy eating rice!

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Saba Akbar
Saba Akbar

Hello, I'm a culinary explorer and food writer with 25 years of home kitchen expertise. This blog is a treasure trove of my insights on global cuisine, cooking tips, and expert knowledge of kitchen tools.
Besides this, as a GERD survivor, I've transformed my passion for food into a quest for food's GERD-friendliness and healthiness. I believe what you eat shapes your internal environment—join me on this lifelong journey of taste and healthiness!

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