Does Rice Make You Fat?

Every time I travel to Indonesia, India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka, I notice the amount of rice consumed at every meal. For many, rice is a big part of their breakfast, lunch and dinner. And very often, it’s fried rice and in huge portions – unlike the rice consumed in Japan or Hong Kong where it’s usually steamed rice and limited to a small bowl per meal. And it’s all white rice! I wondered if there’s a connection between the consumption of rice and obesity in these countries. I did some quick reading and research and here are some of the facts:

  • Indonesia and China are amongst the top five consumers of rice with 150kg and 90kg per person per year, respectively. US and France consume only 9kg and 4kg of rice per person per year! World rice consumption has increased 40 percent in the last 30 years, from 62kg per capita to 86kg per capita.
  • Carbohydrates like rice break down as sugar and are stored as fat when not burned as energy. According to WikiAnswers: White rice is a simple carb; it is converted to sugar with very little calorie usage. In itself rice does not make you gain weight. However if you would like to lose weight it is best to stick to whole grains e.g. brown rice and whole wheat bread, these take more processes to get converted into sugar so they use more calories.
  • Brown rice is an excellent source of dietary fibre; one cup provides 14% of the daily value. Consumption of brown rice can reduce high cholesterol and prevent constipation.
  • A Harvard Med study on 74,000 females between the ages of 38-63 suggested that weight was directly related with the consumption of refined grains like white rice. The women who had brown rice in their diets were not only slimmer, but were also 49% less likely to gain weight.

In summary, there are compelling reasons to switch from white rice to brown rice. And obesity, as we all know, is a result of too many calories in and too few out. And eating less, eating natural food and regular exercise are the surest ways of staying healthy and in good shape. Please provide your thoughts and tips through comments.

[Photo of Nasi Goreng from Indonesia – white fried rice mixed with meat or vegetable, usually served with a fried egg and some salad]

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6 thoughts on “Does Rice Make You Fat?

  1. I couldn’t get through the day without rice(white!) and meat. Nowadays, for some inexplicable reason, I don’t feel like rice at all. Also, my body just want vegetables. Everyday, I especially prepare vegetables like green beans, spinach with potatoes, cauliflower and peas etc. I can’t seem to explain this – growing up I hated vegetables(except for potatoes. I’m quite intrigued by this and thinking that maybe eventually my body is in tune with its heritage – could come from a vegetarian clan in my past. Do you perhaps have read something about this before?


  2. Hi Vijay, I had never heard or read about this. But I just checked with a very knowledgeable friend of mine (my wife calls her ‘encyclopedia’) and here’s what she told me: This happens to a lot of people and the reasons seem to be:

    a) an incident like watching a lamb being slaughtered; every time you see meat it triggers the thought
    b) something in the sub-conscious that induces the change e.g. benefits of vegetables, disadvantages of meat etc.
    c) (you won’t like this one) our tastes change with age. i began to like papaya after my 45th birthday – the only fruit i never liked 🙂

    Hope that helps. Thanks, Shiba (if you are reading this).


    • Hi Om, consider going one day per week without rice. Then maybe two. Or switch to brown rice. And if you can’t do without rice, there are oner things you can do start losing weight. Cheers


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