We all know that there are a lot of carbohydrates in rice and potatoes. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't eat them, either if you're apprehensive about gaining weight or if you're just trying to keep to low-carb foods.
According to the Mayo Clinic, carbs are not necessarily responsible for weight gain, especially if you stick to healthy carbs. They do serve a function in nutrition.
Whether you're going for rice or potatoes, the important thing is that the carbohydrates in the potato or rice do not exceed the number of carbs you are supposed to consume on a daily basis, according to your diet plan. With that in mind, incorporating these two foods into your low-carbohydrate diet means preparing them in a way that reduces their net carbohydrate load.
Carbohydrate Content: Rice vs. Potatoes
The carbohydrate content of rice vs. potatoes depends on which kind of potato and which kind of rice you compare. If you're comparing carbohydrates in rice in general to a baked russet potato, then potato's load is greater.
However, if you're comparing rice to a sweet potato, then there are more carbohydrates in the rice. When it comes to rice versus potatoes, it all depends on which kinds you're comparing.
According to the USDA Food Composition Databases, 100 grams of short-grain enriched white rice contains 28.73 grams of carbohydrates, and 100 grams of long-grain brown rice contains 25.58 grams. A small baked russet potato (138 grams) contains 29.59 grams of carbohydrates, and a sweet potato has 16.35 grams.
The exact macronutrient counts vary considerably across varieties. When adding new varieties of rice or potato to your diet, be sure to check their macronutrient profiles first.
Get More Dietary Fiber
According to a November 2015 abstract published in the journal Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, most adults aren't getting enough dietary fiber on a daily basis. The average daily consumption is about 17 grams. Meanwhile, the recommended intake is about 38 grams for men, and 25 grams for women.
Dietary fiber plays many key roles in the body. It helps to maintain the balance of blood sugar in your body, and it keeps your cholesterol levels low, according to the Mayo Clinic. By doing these two things, it makes it less likely that you're going to develop either type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Dietary fiber also helps to maintain a healthy weight and prevents constipation, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is also a special type of starch found in both rice and potatoes known as resistant starch. This starch acts like fiber, so it offers pretty much the same benefits.
If you want a lot of fiber in your diet, the carbohydrates in potatoes attributable to fiber are significant, and the baked russet potato is your best choice. According to the USDA Food Composition Databases, a small baked russet potato will give you 3.2 grams of dietary fiber. A small sweet potato will give you 1.9 grams of fiber, while 100 grams of long-grain brown rice will give you just 1.6 grams. White rice, which has been processed, barely has any fiber at all, with its total fiber content less than 1 gram per serving. It should be noted that, of all the carbs in a potato, at least half of the fiber is found in the skin, so you'll lose it if you don't eat that part of the tuber.
Glycemic Index and Carbohydrate Content
Whenever you eat carbs, the concentration of sugar in your blood goes up. Insulin will then rush in to purge the excess sugar from your blood, and the levels will drop back below normal. They will then slowly settle back to the base line.
When your blood sugar drops very low, you experience hunger. When your blood sugar is too high, much of that excess blood sugar will be stored in the form of fat.
This is where the Glycemic Index (GI) comes in. It is a tool that tells you how food containing carbohydrates will affect your blood sugar levels. The index exists on a scale of 1 to 100, and anything scoring 70 or higher is capable of spiking your blood sugar levels. If you're looking for low carbohydrate foods, you'll want to go with the lower numbers on the GI.
Harvard Health Publishing has a list of GIs for many different foods. On that list, brown rice has a score of 68, sweet potatoes have a score of 63, white rice has a score of 73 and baked russet potatoes have an index almost as high as that of pure glucose, which has a value of 100.
- Mayo Clinic: "Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit into a Healthy Diet"
- USDA Food Composition Databases: "White Short-Grain Enriched Rice"
- USDA Food Composition Databases: "Long-Grain Brown Rice"
- USDA Food Composition Databases: "Baked Russet Potato"
- USDA Food Composition Databases: "Sweet Potato"
- NCBI: "Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Glycemic Index for 60+ Foods"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber Essential for a Healthy Diet"