The Rice Diet – How It Works, What To Eat, And Benefits

Shed those extra pounds and regulate your sugar levels with this short-term diet.

Medically reviewed by Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health
Fact-checked by Payal Karnik, MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Rice can lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure (1). Yes, you heard that right! In fact, a rice diet can also reduce hypertensioni  XHigh blood pressure caused due to the excess pressure exerted by the blood on artery walls. . Moreover, it may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes (1).  Bill Bradley, RD, says, “Rice is important in the diet because it’s rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates keep you energized. It’s also a rich source of B Vitamins that help improve nervous system health.”

Kitty Gurkin Rosati (MS, RD, LDN) and Dr. Robert Rosati published a highly successful book on this diet – The Rice Diet Solution – in 2006. Why is the rice diet followed by so many people? Read on to demystify the rice diet, its benefits, and everything else you need to know about this diet that works so well. Scroll down!

protip_icon At A Glance: Rice Diet
  • Principle: A balanced diet including foods high in complex carbs, limited dairy, and foods low in sodium
  • Purpose: To possibly improve heart health and treat diabetes
  • Who It Is For: Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and gluten sensitivity
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Who Should Avoid: Individuals with low potassium levels, and those who are advised to refrain from rice due to other medical conditions
  • Cons: May cause tiredness and constipation.

What Is The Rice Diet And How Does It Work?

Image: Shutterstock

The rice diet is a low-calorie, low-sodium diet created by Dr. Walter Kempner in 1939. While working as a professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, Dr. Kempner created a dietary approach to help his patients lower blood pressure, improve kidney function, and keep a check on obesity.

The reason this diet works for treating people with hypertension or obesity lies in the foods allowed for consumption. It includes foods high in complex carbs, limited dairy, and foods low in sodium.

  • Complex carbs take longer to get digested (2), thereby reducing hunger.
  • Low-sodium intake may prevent the body from storing excess water weight and reduce the pressure on the kidneys. However, more research is needed in this regard.
  • A low-calorie diet (800 calories per day) is allowed initially, which is then increased up to 1200 calories per day.

Julius Cermak, Nutritionist and Naturopathici  XDoctors that specialize in natural and non-invasive remedies for healing. Herbalist, says, “Inflammation is one of the most important factors in obesity, and a high sodium diet contributes to inflammation. So during that first phase of the rice diet, a particular emphasis is placed on limiting salt to eliminate bloating and is continued throughout the diet so that the weight loss process goes smoothly without inflammation interfering with the fat detox process.”

Matthew Scarfo, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Precision Nutritionist Counselor, adds, “The rice diet, in addition to being a low-salt diet, also is a low-fat diet. This is great for those with fatty liver disease, as it can help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. In fact, a 2014 study from the Korea Food Research Institute found that cooked rice may help improve cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”

In a nutshell, low-calorie, low-sodium, and high-fiber foods are the reasons behind the success of the rice diet. Whether you choose to follow a vegetarian, traditional rice diet, plant-based Mediterranean-style eating, or DASH-based diet, there are many ways to make healthy and delicious meals that support diabetes management and improve overall health. Now, let’s check out what foods you should consume and what to avoid.

Rice Diet Foods List

Image: Shutterstock

To Consume

The rice diet is quite restrictive. On this diet, you will be consuming:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Low-salt beans
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Non-fat dairy

Miranda, a recipe-sharing YouTuber, explored the rice diet in one of her videos. The first day of her rice diet involved a grocery haul that primarily consisted of three pounds of rice. She explains, “Three days, three pounds of rice, which should last me three days, at least, that’s my goal (i).” Her diet primarily revolved around quick carbohydrates with limited fiber and fat content.

To Avoid

  • Junk food
  • Soda
  • Bottled fruit juices
  • Candies
  • Milk chocolate
  • Frozen food
  • Deep-fried food
  • Ready-to-eat foods
  • Refined flour, refined sugar, and trans fat foods

You will need to dump all the junk food and adopt better eating and lifestyle choices. But, there’s one burning question. White rice or brown rice – what’s allowed in the rice diet? Find out in the next section.

White Rice Or Brown Rice?

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It depends. If you like having white rice, go for it! And if you choose to consume brown rice, you can do it. Brown rice is considered healthier as it contains more dietary fiber. But you may compensate for that by adding extra veggies to your bowl of white rice.

Taste-wise, white rice is certainly more palatable. But you might like the chewy texture of brown rice (it takes longer to cook and needs to be soaked for at least 20 minutes).

Dr. Kempner had advised consuming white rice as, at that time, white rice was widely consumed.

Now that you know what to eat and avoid, let’s get down to the toughest part – the diet itself. In the following section, I have broken down the diet into three phases. Follow the instructions for each phase, and you will smoothly glide through it. Take a look.

The Rice Diet Plan

Phase 1 – 800 calories

MealsWhat To Eat
Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)1 medium bowl of oatmeal with banana and chia seeds
Lunch (12:00 p.m.)Rice + stir-fried veggies + baked fish
Snack (3:30 p.m.)300 mL freshly pressed fruit juice
Dinner (6:30 p.m.)Grilled chicken and mushroom rice

Phase 2 – 1000 calories

MealsWhat To Eat
Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)1 toast + ½ avocado + ½ small bowl of homemade ricotta cheese + 1 cup green tea
Lunch (12:00 p.m.)Rice + stir-fried veggies + grilled chicken
Snack (3:30 p.m.)1 cup of mixed fruits
Dinner (6:30 p.m.)Vegetable and fish sushi

Phase 3 – 1200 calories

MealsWhat To Eat
Breakfast (8:00 a.m.)A medium bowl of vegetable quinoa + 1 cup green tea
Lunch (12:00 p.m.)Rice + stir-fried veggies + baked fish or fish curry
Snack (3:30 p.m.)1 cup buttermilk + 10 in-shell pistachios
Dinner (6:30 p.m.)Low-fat chicken and mushroom risotto

This is a sample rice diet menu you can try. Rice diet recipes are easy to prepare at home. Scroll down to learn simple recipes.

Miranda’s rice diet during this period included various accompaniments, such as vegetables and lean proteins. After consuming a meal, she commented on its taste, saying, “That was really good. This will probably become a staple for me.” Scroll down to learn simple recipes you can have on this diet.

Rice Diet Recipes

Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

How To Prepare

  1. Preheat the grill on medium-high heat.
  2. Mix the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, onion, and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil and rub the seasoning on both sides of the chicken.
  4. Grill and cook for about 15 minutes total, flipping over the chicken halfway through.
  5. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the chicken and sprinkle chopped cilantro before serving.

It is a tough diet to follow. So, it’s best to follow it for not more than two weeks. The rice diet has undergone modification as the nutritional requirements, food habits, and scientific views on food and nutrition have changed. Here are the new rice diet guidelines laid out by Kitty Gurkin Rosati and Dr. Robert Rosati.

Consume (per day):

  • 1000 calories
  • 22 g fat
  • 5.5 g saturated fat
  • 500-1000 mg sodium
  • 0-100 mg cholesterol

Apart from changing your diet, you may do the following to improve your health.

What Else To Do To Improve Your Health?

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  • You must take care of your sleep pattern. Sleep deprivation is one of the causes of toxin build-up in the body. The harmful free oxygen radicalsi  XHighly reactive molecules produced in the human body that cause several health problems. alter your DNA and cause numerous health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (3).
  • Meditate for at least five minutes a day. Increase the duration as you become more comfortable.
  • Avoid alcohol. You may consume 30 mL of wine once a week.
  • Workout regularly. You will start seeing a change in your mood and energy levels from the very first day you exercise.
  • Drink at least two liters of water per day. You may add citrus fruits, mint leaves, ginger, and cucumber to make your bottle of water more palatable.
  • Eat at regular intervals. Going on a hunger strike will only weaken your bones, muscles, and brain function.

It is clear that, along with diet, you must follow a healthy lifestyle to keep yourself fit and happy. But, for that, you can follow a diet that’s not so restrictive. Try intermittent fasting – it works like magic.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid following the rice diet if you have colon surgery and impaired kidney function. Also, if you are using any blood thinners, check with your doctor before following this diet.

Who should follow the rice diet? Find out next.

Who Should Follow The Rice Diet?

You may follow this diet if:

  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have heart disease.
  • You suffer from chronic renal failurei  XThe loss of function in the kidneys due to diabetes or high blood pressure. .
  • You have high cholesterol.
  • You are gluten sensitive.

“Rice is indeed a food that is low in potassium, which is ideal for those with a higher potassium level in their bodies,” says Isaac Robertson, ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer and Nutritionist. However, he warns, “ Those who already have low potassium should try to avoid rice and have something with more potassium in it because the low quantity of it can be life-threatening.”

Note: Follow this diet ONLY IF your doctor gives you a green signal.

Before coming to a close, here are the benefits and side effects of the rice diet.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Mindful eating, reducing intake of processed foods, and conscious breathing may help make this diet work.

Benefits Of The Rice Diet

Image: Shutterstock
  • May help reduce body fat.
  • May help reduce cholesterol levels.
  • May help lower blood pressure.
  • May improve heart health.
  • May protect from diabetes type II.

Miranda experienced a boost in energy during the initial phase of the diet. She says, “I really liked it, I had great energy.” However, she was also well aware of the lack of fiber and fat, which failed to keep her satiated. This led her to anticipate that her energy levels might not be sustained over the next two days. Learn more about the potential side effects of following this diet below.

Side Effects Of The Rice Diet

Image: Shutterstock
  • May cause nutritional deficiencies.
  • You may get bored of the diet and feel starved.
  • You may feel irritated.
  • May cause nausea.
  • May lead to weakness.

NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Precision Nutritionist Counselor Matthew Scarfo suggests consuming enough fat and protein on a rice diet. He warns, “The diet doesn’t allow for much protein or fat, which can cause trouble for some individuals. Women in particular, should get between 20-35% of their daily calories from fat, as dietary fat is essential in hormone production.”

Infographic: The Rice Diet: Foods To Consume And Avoid

Rice can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help in reducing hypertension and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, so it is crucial to include rice in your diet. However, you should follow the dos and don’ts and avoid consuming certain foods on a rice diet. The infographic below provides a round-up of the foods to eat and avoid during the diet. Scroll down and check it out.

the rice diet foods to consume and avoid (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Dr. Walter Kempner devised the rice diet in 1939 as a low-calorie, low-sodium diet. Foods high in complex carbohydrates, minimal dairy, and low sodium are part of this diet. Rice diet is good for people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart diseases. It is, however, an extremely restrictive diet. You can follow the rice diet only when you have a health issue that necessitates it, and no other diet would suffice. If you are looking for a diet that will help you lose weight, the rice diet might not be the best option. So, speak to your doctor before you decide to be on this diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight can you lose eating rice?

By eating rice in moderation and practicing calorie restriction and exercise, men can approximately lose 30 pounds and women may lose 20 pounds in about 10 weeks. However, the weight loss varies from person to person.

Is it ok to eat rice every day?

Yes, it is ok to eat rice every day in moderation. If consumed in excess, it may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Are eggs and rice healthy?

Yes, eggs and rice are healthy. They are a perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein. However, consume in moderation to avoid any negative side effects, like weight gain.

Which is the healthiest rice?

Brown rice and wild rice are considered the healthiest forms of rice.

Is pasta healthier than rice?

Whole wheat pasta is a healthier choice compared to rice. However, rice is a better alternative to refined pasta.

Is rice healthier than bread?

Rice (especially brown rice) has more minerals and vitamins that are not present in bread. However, if you are aiming for low calories and carbohydrates, whole grain bread is a better choice.

Is rice anti-inflammatory?

Brown and wild rice exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in fiber that aids in reducing the inflammation. However, white rice does not contain fiber and may not help reduce inflammation.

Is a rice and beans diet plan healthy?

Yes, a rice and beans diet plan is healthy as it is rich in fiber, protein, and other essential vitamins and nutrients. According to a study, consuming rice with pinto, dark red kidney, or black beans may help reduce glycemic response in adults with type 2 diabetes (4).

Key Takeaways

  • The rice diet is a low-calorie and low-sodium diet mostly used by people with hypertension and obesity.
  • This restrictive diet excludes sodas, bottled juices, refined flours, and candies, while fresh fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy are allowed.
  • It can reduce body fat, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • But side-effects like irritation, nausea, weakness, nutritional deficiencies may occur.

Discover the amazing health benefits of rice with this informative video. Check it out and learn how this versatile food can help you stay healthy and fit.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Rice in health and nutrition
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287284991_Rice_in_health_and_nutrition
  2. Difference Between Simple and Complex Carbohydrates
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320583094_Difference_Between_Simple_and_Complex_Carbohydrates
  3. Free Radicals Antioxidants in Disease and Health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/
  4. Bean and rice meals reduce postprandial glycemic response in adults with type 2 diabetes: a cross-over study
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489574/
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