My Thoughts on the Rice Diet…

bag of riceThe Rice Diet – The Good and The Bad

The Rice Diet has been getting a lot of attention recently, due to the fact that the program is shutting down after 70 years. I can’t say that I completely agree with this diet plan, but there are some good features to it. Here’s what I think.

Short-Term VS Long-Term

The diet significantly reduces caloric intake (800 calories a day for the first week) while increasing exercise. This weight loss concept is nothing new, and many other diets promote the same thing. However, 800 calories a day for most people is going to be such a drastic change that they are not likely to be able to stick to it long term. This is a major reason why most diets fail – it’s not that the diet isn’t valid, it’s that it’d not designed for long-term use. Therefore, if any weight is lost, it usually returns over time.

That said, if drastic weight changes need to be made for health reasons, by all means, get rid of the weight. For those who are obese, short-term weight loss is better than no weight loss, and short term success does have the potential to lead to long term results.

Detoxification

The rice diet advocates eating whole foods while limiting sugar, salt and processed foods. It is designed to detoxify the body, according to WebMD. I completely agree with this. Eliminating chemicals, additives and other toxins from our dinner plate will definitely clean up our diets and in many cases improve things like digestion, allergies and skin problems.

Processed foods typically contain “hidden” sugar and salt, so we are usually consuming more than we think. These additives also cause our bodies to retain water. By restricting sugar and salt alone, we are likely to see a significant reduction in weight due to a decrease in water retention.

Rice VS Other Grains

I love rice. I eat it very infrequently, but I do love myself a nice big bowl of brown rice. Rice is, of course, not on the food list for us Paleo eaters. It is not nutrient-dense and has a lot of carbs (about 45 grams per cup of cooked brown rice), which can cause a spike in sugar levels. I also find that eating foods high in carbohydrates stimulates the appetite so we want to eat more food. This, of course, is not helpful for any weight loss diet.

However, rice does not contain gluten, so I see it as better than eating bread or pasta. In addition, Andreas Eenfeldt, MD of the DietDoctor.com says that populations that eat rice as a staple part of their diet may be able to stay thin because they are mainly eating unrefined starch (ie. rice) that contains more fiber and takes longer to digest.

Should You Eat Fat?

The rice diet restricts fat intake as well. This is probably a critical aspect of keeping the daily calories so low, as fat contains a greater amount of calories per gram (9 calories/gram) than carbs (4 calories/gram) or protein (4 calories/gram).

woman eating health foodMany of the fats in today’s American diet are unhealthy and are a big factor in weight gain and obesity. However, more recently we’re seeing more attention brought to healthy fats. Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, can not only improve our health but help us lose weight, according to Dr Mary Enig, author of Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats.

In Summary…

If I needed to lose weight fast by going on a low-calorie diet, I would do it by eating foods that did not stimulate my appetite, like rice. (ie. lean meats or fiber-rich vegetables) Actually, I think taking the rice out of the rice diet would be a nice improvement.