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Is Rice Paleo Friendly?

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You might have come across the term Paleo in your search for the perfect healthy diet to lose weight, and have probably done most of your research. To sum it up, a paleo diet generally consists of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, which are items that could formerly only be obtained by hunting and gathering. Foods excluded from this diet include dairy products, legumes, and grains. If you’re a regular consumer of grains and eating rice is part of every meal, their exclusion might be a little too much for you.

However, although rice is a grain, there is considerable debate regarding whether it is appropriate for a paleo diet. This begs the question; is rice paleo-friendly? Is it alright for you to include the occasional white or brown rice in your diet?

In this article, we’ll examine whether it’s alright to eat rice in a paleo diet or if it should be excluded from your paleo meal plan altogether.


What is Paleo?

A paleo diet is a nutritional regimen based on foods consumed during the Paleolithic epoch, which lasted from 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. The goal of this paleolithic eating is to consume foods that are more similar to what early people ate, which includes fresh vegetables such as bell peppers and excludes all processed food. The diet’s logic is that the human body is genetically unsuited to the modern diet stripped of most vitamins and minerals. This concept is known as the discordance hypothesis.

According to the hypothesis, the body’s ability to adapt was overtaken by the relatively quick shift in food. This mismatch is thought to play a role in the current incidence of obesity, digestive disorders, diabetes, heart disease, various metabolic dysfunctions, and other health conditions.

Health Benefits of a Paleo Diet

Switching to a Paleo diet can result in an increase in vegetable and fiber intake for most individuals, which is crucial for gastrointestinal health. Preliminary research on the Paleo Diet has yielded promising outcomes in terms of blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Eating Paleo foods can decrease health conditions and is said to be a foundation for good health.

The Cons of Paleo Diet

Is it a perfect healthy diet? That depends on a few things. A paleo diet is high in vegetables, fruits, and nuts, all of which are essential components of a balanced diet. However, the fundamental distinction between the paleo diet and other healthy diets is the omission of whole grains and legumes, both of which are high in fiber and vitamins. Avoiding grains can be tough, particularly for individuals living in a country where people eat rice on a daily basis. Dairy products, which are high in protein and calcium, are also missing from the diet.

While the diet contains food with high nutrient density and more vitamins, it also excludes processed foods that are widely available in your local grocery store, making it an expensive lifestyle to maintain.


Why Grains Are Excluded From The Paleo Diet

Paleo purists will generally not eat any grains, including non-gluten-containing grains like rice. Refined grains contain a lot of carbohydrates, and overconsumption of carbs often results in insulin resistance, metabolic dysfunction, and weight gain or obesity.

Grains and legumes also contain gut irritants or anti-nutrient that can compromise overall gut health, prevent certain nutrients from being absorbed by the body, and inhibit the production of enzymes that we need to digest the proteins we eat.

However, do note that the paleo diet does not eliminate food rice in carbs entirely but rather focuses on consuming carbohydrate-rich food in moderation. Though, it is more ideal for you to obtain them from sources such as vegetables and fruit, which have a more nutritional profile.


Brown Rice Vs White Rice

Since white rice is high in glycemic index and is just straight glucose, you might be thinking that it’s more healthy to add organic rice or brown rice instead. While brown rice contains more nutrients and more vitamins and minerals, it isn’t favored by Paleo dieters. The outer layer of a rice seed, which is the bran, contains most of the nutritional profile of rice. Brown rice still has this outer layer, which is high anti-nutrients known as phytates, which can irritate the gut lining of your digestive system and induce nutritional loss.

Phytates generate phytic acid, which reduces iron and zinc absorption, and to a lesser extent, calcium absorption. Because of phytic acid, whole grain rice is prohibited in the Paleo diet. White rice, on the other hand, has less phytic acid than brown rice. This is because of the removal of the most phytate-rich components of the rice grain, notably the bran and germ.

White rice is the least harmful grain of all and, despite its lack of nutrition and high carbohydrate content, it is very accessible. White rice has several advantages, including the fact that it is particularly easy to digest, especially for persons with chronic gut dysbiosis or other digestive diseases. Because white rice contains no fructose, it is a healthy carb alternative for persons who have fructose malabsorption issues. Individuals who follow the Paleo diet loosely still eat white rice, though it is taken in moderation since it is commonly regarded more favorably than brown rice in the Paleo community.


Is White Rice Paleo Friendly?

The Paleo diet is intended to be a clean eating and nutritionally dense lifestyle. With those in mind, incorporating starchy and gluten-free carbohydrates, such as white rice, into your diet is ultimately up to you. 

However, white rice should not be substituted for other Paleo-friendly carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, even if you are following a version of the Paleo diet loosely.


Adding White Rice in Your Paleo Diet

When considering whether to incorporate white rice in your diet, keep your objectives and present health in mind. Consider the following questions

  • Do you have a normal metabolism? 
  • Are you attempting to lose weight or do you want to be healthy overall?
  • Are you physically active?
  • Do you have health conditions and can’t eat certain food?

After thinking all of this through, figure out how much rice you should consume. Try to consume minimal amounts of rice on days when you have a workout planned. When compared to other forms of rice, basmati rice is thought to have a lower glycemic index, so this rice variety might be the ideal grain to eat alongside nutrient-dense foods.


Paleo Rice Substitutes

If you’re having trouble finding good rice alternatives and safe starch while you move to a paleo diet, you can use the following substitutes.

  • Konjac Rice
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Broccoli Rice
  • Butternut squash rice

If you’re 100% devoted to a strict paleo diet, it could be a good idea to become used to eating items other than rice to get your fill of carbohydrates. Paleo-friendly starches like sweet potatoes, white potatoes, plantains, and yams are all healthy carb sources. You can use zucchini noodles instead of rice noodles, and add clean-burning sources of energy like coconut oil and other healthy fats.


In Conclusion: Is Rice Paleo Friendly?

Since white rice is naturally gluten-free and is devoid of most nutrients brown rice contains, paleo advocates sometimes allow its consumption. However, if you’re a strict follower of the diet or a pre-diabetic individual, then adding rice to your menu plan is a big no-no. Rice consumption depends on the health conditions you currently have. If you’re a healthy individual that can consume high-carb food with no adverse effects, then white rice can be included in your diet.

Ultimately, whether you eat rice depends solely on your health choices. For other rice-related news and posts, you can visit our website.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have brown rice on Paleo?

Brown rice isn’t an ideal food to eat when you’re on a Paleo diet due to its higher phytic acid. Similarly, wild rice is more akin to brown rice and, although more nutritious than white rice, would need to be soaked and cooked to partially break down some of the anti-nutrients present in the grains. If you don’t have the time to do all these steps, it’s best to stick to white rice varieties.

In short, it isn’t ideal to consume brown rice while you’re on a Paleo diet, mainly due to the phytic acid.

Is rice or quinoa Paleo?

While rice, particularly white rice, is okay to include in Paleo, quinoa doesn’t have the same liberties. While containing plenty of nutrients, it is ultimately a type of grain and isn’t allowed in the diet.

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Ji-hyun

Hailing from California, USA. Ji-hyun is a Korean American 🇰🇷🇺🇸 with two growing boys who eat their weight in rice each week. After graduating UCLA & becoming a mom she started We Know Rice as a guide for all the students and moms out there looking to cook healthy and filling meals.

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