What Is Low-Carb Rice?

Eugene P.

When talking about the true grain, there really is no such thing as low-carbohydrate, or low-carb, rice. There are certain types of rice, such as brown rice, that are lower in carbohydrates than other types, but even those are considered a high-carbohydrate food. Some people who follow low-carb diets or need to avoid large amounts of carbohydrates because of medical conditions, use low-carb rice alternatives, such as shredded cauliflower. There also is a distinction to be made between simple and complex carbohydrates, in which case certain types of rice are better than others at not affecting blood sugar levels, although they still cannot be considered truly low-carb rice.

Brown rice has fewer carbs than white rice, but is still a high-carb food.
Brown rice has fewer carbs than white rice, but is still a high-carb food.

Rice is a grain and no amount of processing can remove the natural carbohydrates that form its basic structure. If the desire to eat low-carb rice is for weight-loss reasons only, then portion control can help to reduce the amount of carbohydrates that are eaten when rice is involved. Types of rice such as brown rice and wild rice also can help in such an instance because they have fewer carbohydrates than processed white rice, although they still contain a large amount. The low-carb rice with the absolute least amount of carbohydrates is known as black rice, or Japonica rice, but it can be hard to find in some areas.

White rice is the least healthy of all the varieties of rice.
White rice is the least healthy of all the varieties of rice.

Another reason that so-called low-carb rice might be used in a diet is because of medical conditions such as diabetes. Simple carbohydrates are processed very quickly by the body, converting into sugars sometimes within minutes after being eaten and causing a sharp spike in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates from whole grains that have been minimally processed break down at much more gradual rates and avoid drastic changes in blood sugar. Wild rice, brown rice and quinoa are all complex carbohydrates, meaning that they are not technically low-carb, but they do not have the same effect on the body as white rice.

Regardless of the reason, there are low-carb rice substitutes that can be used to simulate the culinary effects of rice in a dish without using the actual grain. One of the most popular substitutes is made by shredding or grating florets of cauliflower, creating small rice-like grains that have a fairly neutral taste and can help to fill out larger, spicier meals. The rice texture and consistency can be achieved by boiling the cauliflower in salted water for a few minutes. Vegetables such as squash, carrots and broccoli also can be chopped or run through a ricer to make a finely grained low-carb rice substitute.

Wild rice has fewer carbohydrates than white rice.
Wild rice has fewer carbohydrates than white rice.

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Discussion Comments


Wow. I jumped for joy when I saw the title of this article. Maybe, I thought, someone has happened on to a solution I haven't seen yet. No such luck. By chance, I can eat a moderate serving of potatoes, and it doesn't affect my blood sugar much. Rice, however, which I love dearly, runs it into the stratosphere. I can take or leave potatoes. Sigh.

One good substitute I've found is quinoa. It has about half the carb count of white rice, has lots of fiber and protein, and cooks in a rice cooker as easily as white rice does. So if I don't feel like spending 45 minutes cooking a tiny serving of brown rice, I can cook quinoa instead.

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