With 45 grams of carbs per cup, rice isn't a low-carb food, which may leave you wondering how you can possibly lose weight following the rice diet. The rice diet has been used to help people lose weight since 1939, according to Diets in Review. While the diet isn't low-carb, it does help you lose weight by restricting your calorie intake. If you're trying to lose weight and want to limit your carbs too, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you design a meal plan that suits your needs and tastes.
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The Rice Diet Basics
The rice diet is a three-week weight-loss plan that helps you lose by restricting calories, fat and sodium intake. The first week is considered a type of detox, and your intake is limited to specific grains including brown rice and quinoa, vegetables and fruit. During the first week of the rice diet, you'll eat about 800 to 1,000 calories and 20 grams of protein a day.
In the second week, intake ranges from 800 to 1,200 calories a day, and in addition to the foods you eat in week one, you're now allowed lean protein such as fish and nonfat dairy. Week three is the maintenance part of the program, and 200 calories are added each week as you go until you stop losing weight. Your food choices also expand to include tofu, nuts and cheese during the maintenance phase.
Low-Calorie, Not Low-Carb
The rice diet is a very-low-calorie diet -- in fact, it recommends far too few calories for most people. Very-low-calorie diets are used as tools for weight loss, but because they're not appropriate for everyone, they should be followed only under the close supervision of a doctor due to the risk of nutritional deficiencies. For healthy weight loss, women shouldn't eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day and men no fewer than 1,800 calories, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
With 150 to 200 grams of carbs per day, the rice diet isn't low-carb. A typical low-carb diet limits carb intake to 20 to 50 grams depending on the stage of the diet. And instead of rice, low-carb diets typically recommend eating meats, fats and low-carb veggies such as cucumbers and asparagus -- especially when you first start the diet.
Rice on a Low-Carb Diet
One cup of cooked rice, whether white or brown, has 200 calories and 45 grams of carbs. While rice is allowed on the rice diet, if you're trying to limit your carb intake, you can reduce your portion or try other "rice" options.
Shiritaki rice is a low-carb "rice" made from an Asian root vegetable called konjac. This "rice" product is calorie- and carb-free and may make a good rice substitute.
You can also make cauliflower "rice" by grating or processing raw cauliflower into ricelike pieces and either boiling, microwaving or roasting. Cauliflower rice may not taste exactly like rice, but with less than 20 calories and 5 grams of carbs per 1/2-cup serving, it makes a good low-cal, low-carb alternative.
Making Your Rice Diet Low-Carb
Low-carb diets are more effective at helping people lose weight than other types of diets, such as the low-fat diet, according to a 2007 study published in JAMA. Due to the calorie limitations during the first two weeks of the rice diet, you may not want to cut carbs too, which will decrease your calorie intake even more.
Once you reach the maintenance phase of the diet, however, you may be able to incorporate low-carb eating into your meal plan. You can do this by subbing out the grain portion of the rice diet with some of the low-carb rice options such as cauliflower rice or shirataki rice. Or, instead of 1 cup of rice with lunch and dinner, limit your portion to 1/3 cup to reduce carbs from 45 to 15 grams.
While the low-carb diet is helpful at weight loss, due to the food restrictions -- limited amounts of fruit, grains and starchy vegetables -- it's not known how the diet may affect your health over the long term. Incorporating aspects of both the low-carb and rice diet may help you get what you need.