White rice is often criticized as a nutrient-less source of empty carbohydrates and calories. Yet white rice is considered a staple in cultures and cuisines worldwide.
But what does science say?
Here you’ll learn all about carbohydrates in rice products, the best low-carb substitute for rice, and how to eat rice while on a keto diet.
Is Rice Keto?
White rice is a refined grain. It has been processed and polished to remove the bran and germ of the grain. This way, manufacturers can increase shelf life and save money.
During the milling process, nutrients such as fiber, manganese, magnesium, selenium, or phosphorus are removed from the rice.
Therefore, white rice is fortified with vitamins and minerals to increase its nutritional value on paper.
Since brown whole grain rice does not have the bran removed, it retains more nutrients than its white counterpart.
Accordingly, if brown whole grain rice is healthier than polished white rice, why does ordinary rice still form a staple for 4 billion Asians?
And why, then, are Japanese so slim? Have you ever seen Japanese people eating brown whole grain rice? No? Neither have I.
So are we smarter than the Japanese concerning rice? Probably quite the opposite!
Cleaning the husk and bran also removes plant toxins from the grain, particularly lectins.
These antinutrients bind pathogens, helping them cross the intestinal wall and reach organs (Dalla Pellegrina et al. 20091).
Plants use these sticky proteins to defend themselves against predators (Dolan et al. 20102).
Therefore, lectins hide precisely in seeds and hulls.
In this context, gluten has received the most attention so far. However, in addition to gluten, wheat contains a more aggressive lectin in the bran that is equally damaging to the intestinal wall: Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA).
Studies suggest that rice likewise contains a lectin that resembles WGA (Kolberg et al. 19875).
So whole grain rice is not necessarily ideal for weight loss. But to determine if it will throw you out of ketosis, we need to look at the carbohydrate content.
Carbs in Rice
White rice contains less fiber than brown rice, indicating that its carbohydrates cause blood sugar and insulin levels to rise more quickly.
Therefore, can cooked white rice prevent us from losing weight?
How Many Carbs Are in Rice?
100 grams of cooked white rice provide the following macronutrients on average (*):
- Energy: 130 calories
- Protein: 2.7 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 28.2 grams
- Dietary fiber: 0.4 grams
- Net carbs: 27.8 grams
For conventional cooked long-grain rice, we get a ratio of fat to net carbohydrates of about 0.01.
Therefore, we don’t need to do any more math. Rice is anything but a low-carb food.
Is Rice Keto-Friendly?
Even the most minor rice amounts can throw low-carb beginners out of ketosis. Therefore, the processed grain, which is low in fiber, drives blood sugar levels to unprecedented heights in a short time.
In short, the processing gives the rice a higher glycemic index.
Furthermore, studies state that regular consumption of refined rice may affect blood sugar control and be associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Musa-Veloso et al. 20186; Hu et al. 20127).
It is essential to avoid white rice as part of a ketogenic diet for these reasons.
Therefore, can the higher fiber brown rice be better for low carb?
Carbs in Brown Rice
Compared to white rice, 100 grams of brown wholegrain rice provides a slightly better result (*):
- Energy: 111 calories
- Protein: 2.6 grams
- Fat: 0.9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 23.0 grams
- Dietary fiber: 1.8 grams
- Net carbs: 21.2 grams
In terms of macronutrients, the only difference worth mentioning concerns fiber.
Nonetheless, the amount of fiber in brown rice is still so small that it cannot significantly impact our results.
Is Brown Rice Keto?
Besides the higher lectin content, brown rice is still a carbohydrate bomb. The fiber content is unimaginably low. Therefore, the net carbohydrates do not decrease significantly compared to white rice.
Therefore, brown rice is not a plausible option for a low-carb diet like keto.
Carbs in Rice Noodles
100 grams of cooked rice noodles provide the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 109 calories
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 24.9 grams
- Dietary fiber: 1.0 grams
- Net carbs: 23.9 grams
Although rice noodles have undergone another processing stage, you can hardly see any difference from polished rice.
Unlike regular rice, rice noodles in soups are usually consumed in smaller portions for this purpose.
Are Rice Noodles Keto?
Rice noodles surprisingly have less net carbohydrates than white rice. However, their protein content is also significantly lower, likely due to the higher degree of processing.
The bottom line is that they are almost free of fats, proteins, and fiber. Therefore, rice noodles stimulate blood sugar and insulin secretion to a high degree. Even a small serving of 100 grams will throw most people out of ketosis.
Rice is not keto-friendly, even in pasta form.
Carbs in Rice Flour
On average, 100 grams of white rice flour contains the following macronutrients (*):
- Energy: 366 calories
- Protein: 5.9 grams
- Fat: 1.4 grams
- Carbohydrates: 80.1 grams
- Dietary fiber: 2.4 grams
- Net carbs: 77.7 grams
Looking at these numbers, we can quickly conclude that rice flour is refined carbohydrates. The high degree of processing is reflected in the extreme concentration of carbohydrates. It is more than 80% carbs and has nearly 3.5 times the calories of regular rice.
Is Rice Flour Keto?
What do refined carbohydrates do best? That’s right. They elevate blood sugar and insulin levels.
Therefore, the conclusion is a thoroughly easy one: Rice flour and its products are not keto-friendly.
Carbs in Rice Cake
100 grams of rice cakes contain the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 387 calories
- Protein: 8.2 grams
- Fat: 2.8 grams
- Carbohydrates: 81.5 grams
- Dietary fiber: 4.2 grams
- Net carbs: 77.3 grams
This snack, marketed as healthy, is a carbohydrate bomb par excellence. After our liver turns the carbohydrates back into glucose, simple sugar, they put 81.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams of rice cakes into our bodies.
Is Rice Cake Keto?
Have you ever heard that sugar is good for weight loss? I haven’t either.
After all, that’s one of the few accurate statements already established in the popular mind.
In short, rice cakes are prime sources of sugar and therefore not suitable for a ketogenic diet or weight loss in general.
The ironic thing is that it is precisely those who want to lose weight who consume rice cakes.
Carbs in Rice Paper
100 grams of rice paper contain the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 350 calories
- Protein: 0.0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 86.76 grams
- Dietary fiber: 1.5 grams
- Net carbs: 85.26 grams
Rice paper represents the pinnacle of processed rice products in this article. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration data, the paper made from rice is free of fats and proteins.
It consists only of carbohydrates, a small amount of salt, and a tiny trace of iron.
Is Rice Paper Keto?
There’s no room for argument here. High-carb, no-fat – rice paper may taste delicious in the form of spring rolls, but it is in no way suitable for a ketogenic diet.
Keto Rice Substitutes
Fortunately, some plants have more nutrients and fewer antinutrients than rice that can replace it.
So you don’t have to give up stir-fry dishes, casseroles, or rice as a side dish.
In my opinion, the following low-carb alternatives can replace rice on the keto diet:
- Shirataki rice made from konjac flour (0 net carbs)
- Cauliflower rice
- Cabbage rice
- Rutabaga rice
If you’re short on time, you can currently buy these excellent keto rice alternatives online:
Still, I think it’s better to make your keto rice substitute at home, anyway. Cauliflower is probably the best candidate for this. But you can also shred cabbage with a food processor and sauté it like rice.
In contrast, rutabaga rice is, in my opinion, more time-consuming to prepare because you have to take an extra step and use a spiral slicer on the root first.
Keto Rice Recipe
Cauliflower is the absolute jack of all trades when replacing high-carb foods. Whether pizza, puree, or rice, cauliflower brings the right texture, flavor, and health benefits to a ketogenic diet.
To maximize the health benefits of low-carb rice, I use Organic Grass-Fed Ghee Butter (buy on Amazon).
With this cauliflower rice, you no longer have to miss out on Asian stir-fry dishes on keto:
Best Keto Cauliflower Rice
- 1 cauliflower head big
- 3.5 oz grass-fed ghee butter
- 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- Cut the cauliflower into evenly sized florets. Either process the florets into rice with a kitchen grater (medium holes) or place in a blender. When doing so, fill only half of the bowl at a time.
- If you chose the blender, puree the cauliflower on the pulse setting. Continue to pulse until it resembles rice. If there are individual large pieces left over, you can puree them again separately.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add butter and Himalayan salt. Let the butter melt. Then add the cauliflower.
- Stir fry the cauliflower for 5-8 minutes.
- Then serve.
Regular Rice Is Not Low-Carb
Rice falls into the category of refined carbohydrates. Therefore, its glycemic index is high, significantly increasing blood sugar levels.
Processed rice products are no more suitable for low-carb diets like the keto diet. Contrary to popular belief, rice cake, in particular, is not good for weight loss.
Fortunately, premium keto rice alternatives exist. For example, you can buy ready-made shirataki rice made from konjac flour or easily make keto cauliflower rice with my recipe yourself.
The keto-friendly substitutes may not taste exactly like rice, but these alternatives will keep you in ketosis, so you keep burning fat instead of carbs.
Carbs in Rice Keto FAQ
Can I eat rice on a low-carb diet?
Due to its high carb content, you cannot eat rice on low-carb.
What rice has lowest carbs?
Shirataki Rice, made from konjac flour (Miracle Rice), has 0 net carbs.
Is any rice keto friendly?
Due to its high carbohydrate content, rice is not keto-friendly. However, you can replace rice with a delicious keto cauliflower rice alternative.
What can replace rice in keto diet?
Cauliflower, rutabaga, cabbage, and konjac rice can replace white rice on keto.
Studies click to expand!
1Dalla Pellegrina C, Perbellini O, Scupoli MT, Tomelleri C, Zanetti C, Zoccatelli G, Fusi M, Peruffo A, Rizzi C, Chignola R. Effects of wheat germ agglutinin on human gastrointestinal epithelium: insights from an experimental model of immune/epithelial cell interaction. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 1;237(2):146-53. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.03.012. Epub 2009 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 19332085.
2Dolan LC, Matulka RA, Burdock GA. Naturally occurring food toxins. Toxins (Basel). 2010 Sep;2(9):2289-332. doi: 10.3390/toxins2092289. Epub 2010 Sep 20. Review. PubMed PMID: 22069686; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3153292.
3Shechter Y. Bound lectins that mimic insulin produce persistent insulin-like activities. Endocrinology. 1983 Dec;113(6):1921-6. doi: 10.1210/endo-113-6-1921. PubMed PMID: 6357762.
4Kamikubo Y, Dellas C, Loskutoff DJ, Quigley JP, Ruggeri ZM. Contribution of leptin receptor N-linked glycans to leptin binding. Biochem J. 2008 Mar 15;410(3):595-604. doi: 10.1042/BJ20071137. PubMed PMID: 17983356.
5Kolberg J, Wedege E, Sollid L. Immunoblotting detection of lectins in gluten and white rice flour. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1987 Feb 13;142(3):717-23. doi: 10.1016/0006-291x(87)91473-2. PubMed PMID: 3827897.
6Musa-Veloso K, Poon T, Harkness LS, O’Shea M, Chu Y. The effects of whole-grain compared with refined wheat, rice, and rye on the postprandial blood glucose response: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 1;108(4):759-774. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy112. PubMed PMID: 30321274.
7Hu EA, Pan A, Malik V, Sun Q. White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. BMJ. 2012 Mar 15;344:e1454. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e1454. Review. PubMed PMID: 22422870; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3307808.