The rice diet is a high-complex carb, low-fat, and low-sodium diet. It was originally developed by Walter Kepmner, MD, a Duke University physician in 1939. It regained popularity in 2006 after Kitty Gurkin Rosati, a registered dietitian who specializes in the prevention of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases, republished his program in her book, “The Rice Diet Solution.”
According to the official book, the diet works by focusing on limiting salt and foods high in sodium. This will help your body de-bloat and shed excess water weight. In combination with eating low-sodium foods, the diet also limits saturated fats.
Instead, it uses high-fiber foods to fill you up and carbs like fruit, vegetables, grains, and beans, as the main source of nutrition. It also limits almost all dairy from your diet.
The rice diet plan also follows a calorie allowance if you’re looking to lose weight. Initially, it recommends starting at a lower calorie level and then building up to around 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day if you’re not exercising.
If you follow the diet plan presented in the book, you go through three phrases that teach portion control and how to balance food so you can have the freedom to eat whatever you want in moderation.
In Rosati’s accompanying book “The Rice Diet Cookbook,” she outlines how the first phase involves eating grains and fruits for one day of the week and adding foods like vegetables and beans for the rest of the days.
The guidelines for Rosati’s official rice diet plan involves eating per day:
- 1,000 calories
- 500 to 1,000 mg of sodium
- 22 g of fat
- 5.5 g of saturated fat
- 0 to 100 mg of cholesterol
And like most in-depth weight management programs, the diet focuses on lifestyle changes, like keeping a food journal and exploring your relationship with food, your body, and self through meditation, self-awareness, and diet.
In general, following any type of meal plan that reduces calories and focuses on vegetables and lean protein will be effective in helping you lose weight. However, it’s also important to make sure you’re eating enough calories, too. Depending on your metabolism and exercise and activity levels, eating too few calories can actually have the opposite effect on weight loss.
The benefit of this diet is that it can help you learn portion control and get you started on eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. This type of diet may also be very helpful for someone who has a heart condition that requires eating a diet low in sodium and fat.
One of the biggest benefits of the rice diet is that it challenges the idea that carbohydrates are a bad thing. So many diets and health plans focus on eating low-carb food and meals. They promote the idea that carbs = evil. But that’s not just not true. Our bodies need carbohydrates to function efficiently. Our brains need glucose to use as fuel. Carbs are friends, not foes.
The key to eating carbs, of course, is to eat the right kind of carbs in the right portion, which is what this diet promotes. The rice diet focuses on complex carbohydrates like rice (no surprise there), sweet potatoes, or oatmeal, as opposed to simple carbs like cookies and cake.
One woman who followed the diet wrote a review on Amazon. She noted that for her, low-carb methods simply didn’t work for her to lose weight. Every body is different, and some people may not respond well to cutting out certain food groups like carbs.
Drastically cutting out carbs can lead to fatigue, brain fog, and hunger — but this diet prevents these symptoms by keeping your body fueled with complex carbs instead. Also, this diet encourages lots of vegetables, which are considered great, nutrient-dense carbohydrates.
Brown vs. white rice
You can eat either white or brown rice on the diet — providing the rice has no added salt or fat. The original rice diet calls for using white rice. At the time, it was easier to make and more accessible.
However, brown rice is more popular and accessible today. It’s also not processed and is a whole grain with more fiber and nutrient value than white rice. If you’re committing to eating completely unprocessed foods, you may want to consider brown rice.
There are many foods that fit into the rice diet plan. “The Rice Diet Cookbook” offers up several mouthwatering recipes, like French toast sticks, two-bean chili, macaroni and cheese, and, of course, rice recipes like brown rice salad.
This recipe can even be made ahead of time and reheated for busy mornings.
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 6-8 slices of bread
Mix all ingredients except the bread together. Dip bread in the mixture and heat on a skillet.
The rice diet wouldn’t be complete without rice, right? This recipe can be cooked and used for many servings throughout the week.
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked
- 4 tbsp. onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. paprika
Heat the garlic and onion with the rice, then sprinkle with the parsley and paprika while still warm.
If you’re interested in trying the rice diet method, talk with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you have any medical conditions that affect your sodium levels.
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a “diet” for weight loss. Instead, incorporate lifestyle changes that can help you maintain a healthy weight.