How Bad is Rice, Really?

The cereal grain family prides itself on its powerful, expansive arsenal of lectins, phytates, gluten, and other antinutrients. A single seed of its patriarch, wheat, can punch holes in gut linings with ease, and cousin oat has managed to obtain official recognition as being good for the heart even as it doses you with gluten. As healthy whole grains, they hide their armaments in plain sight; they cloak their puny bodies in the very poisons for which they are lauded and applauded. We Primals have got a heated feud going with the family as a whole, but should we paint all its members with the same brush?

Let me draw your attention to rice – diminutive member of the cereal grain family, frequent component of anti-low-carb advocates’ arguments, and the source of much consternation among grain abstainers. Is white rice the proverbial black sheep of the grain family? Does it deserve our full and unwavering opposition? Or, perhaps, can we treat rice like that crazy uncle who drinks a bit too much at family gatherings – occasional visits of short duration are fine and mostly harmless so long as you keep the hard stuff (scotch/soybean oil) locked up?

I’m starting to think it’s not quite so bad as we sometimes portray it. Sure, rice is nutritionally bereft, but it’s not all that offensive when compared to other, more heavily fortified grains.

As a seed, rice does employ a number of anti-consumption deterrents, most of which are located in the hull and bran. Let’s take a look…


Phytate, or phytin in rice, binds to minerals, rendering them largely useless to any animal that consumes it. Well, rats can break through the phytate and get at the minerals fairly well, but they evolved that ability – we did not. Heat does little to phytate, but, since it’s located in the bran, physically removing the bran removes the phytate. That’s why brown rice eaters tend to have poorer mineral balances than white rice eaters.

Trypsin inhibitor

Trypsin is a digestive enzyme produced by mammals to cleave protein peptides in twain and reduce them to their constituent parts – amino acids – for easy absorption. Without trypsin (or with it inhibited), we’d be hard pressed to digest all the protein we eat. Luckily for rice eaters, trypsin inhibitor is located primarily in the outer embryo of the rice seed, with a bit in the bran, and none in the polished, milled seed. Bran-free white rice has no trypsin inhibitor. Steaming rice bran deactivates it, too.


While rice doesn’t have something as pernicious as the gluten lectin agglutinin, it does feature haemagglutinin-lectin, which can bind to specific carbohydrate receptor sites in the intestinal lining and impede nutritional absorption. Again, though, it’s only found in the bran, and standard steam cooking inactivates its toxicity.

The common thread is that white, milled, polished rice is basically pure starch. All the chemical negatives are found in the hull, husk, and bran, and those are easily removed or negated. It is essentially a blank slate, nothing all that bad about it, but nothing all that great, either.

Well, wait: there is the fact that rice contains potential allergens, which cannot be neutralized by processing. Rice allergy isn’t necessarily common, but its incidence rises in countries that eat a lot of rice. Wheat-sensitive individuals and others with food-related autoimmune disorders seem more susceptible to rice allergy, too (big surprise there), and allergic reactions generally manifest as atopic dermatitis, eczema, gastrointestinal distress, or asthma. If you’re sensitive to food in general and grains in particular, rice could pose a problem. And even if it doesn’t cause an immediate reaction, there remains the question of latent, hidden damage. As I’ve mentioned before, gluten is damaging even to supposedly wheat-resilient individuals. Is rice doing similar damage on a lesser scale, even to asymptomatic people? It’s certainly possible.


There are tons of different rice varieties. Check out this exhaustive list of dozens upon dozens for an idea. Now, if this were a post about dozens upon dozens of strains of cattle (note: I’m actually not sure how many different types of cow exist; perhaps this would make a good future post), I would go into each and every variety with exquisite detail. Beef, after all, is a staple food for us. We’d do well to know everything about it. But rice? Rice is not a Primal staple. I’m not very interested in which Cambodian variety contains the most magnesium, or whether Bangladeshi ultra-short grain is superior to Indian red rice. It’s all very interesting, I’m sure, but I don’t want to become a boutique rice guy. I’m just interested in whether or not having some sushi or Vietnamese rice porridge with pig blood and organs now and then will derail efforts – and I think most of you are in the same boat. Here are some of the basic rice varieties you’ll come across.

Brown Rice

It’s the “healthier” choice because it still has the bran, with all its nutrients. In a 100g dose, raw brown rice contains:

  • 77 g carb
  • 3.5 g fiber
  • 3 g fat
  • 8 g protein
  • 0.4 mg thiamin (Vitamin B1)
  • 5 mg niacin
  • 1.5 mg iron
  • 143 mg magnesium
  • 223 mg potassium

I mean, even the most ardent zero-carber would have to admit that brown rice sports an impressive nutrient profile (to clarify, that’s 100g raw; 100g cooked is far less impressive). But most of it is bound up with phytic acid and mostly useless to humans. Rats and other rodents produce phytase, which breaks down phytic acid and releases the bound minerals, but until we engineer rat-human hybrids, we’re not enjoying the full potential of brown rice. Another option is to soak and ferment brown rice, as Stephan details here. To me, though, this just sounds like a ton of work, and I worry that the newly unbound minerals will just leech into the soaking/fermenting liquid along with the phytate and the other antinutrients. If you toss the liquid, won’t you be tossing the nutrients, too? Hopefully Stephan can chime in with some clarification.

White Rice

Mostly neutral. A 100g dose (raw) contains:

  • 80 g carb
  • 1 g fiber
  • 0.6 g fat
  • 7 g protein
  • 0.07 mg thiamin
  • 1.6 g niacin
  • 0.8 mg iron
  • 25 mg magnesium

Pretty meager, right? Not many nutrients, pretty high in starchy carbs – eating white rice and nothing but will lead to nutritional deficiencies fast, but not because white rice is leeching nutrients from you. It’s simply a matter of displacement. White rice replaces other, more nutritious foods, and in some cases, it acts as a vehicle for negative foods, like rancid oils and sugar.

Parboiled Rice

Parboiled rice is interesting. Parboiling involves partially boiling the intact rice seed – husk, bran, and all. This, in theory, is supposed to incorporate some of the bran’s nutrients into the interior. The parboiled rice is then dried and milled, producing a white rice with greater nutrient content than regular white rice. How does it pan out? A 100g raw dose contains:

  • 81 g carb
  • 2 g fiber
  • 1 g fat
  • 7.5 g protein
  • 0.224 mg thiamin
  • 5 mg niacin
  • 0.74 mg iron
  • 27 mg magnesium

It kinda works. There’s very little mineral change from white rice (perhaps even a reduction), but some of the vitamins seem to increase by parboiling. Interesting.

Wild Rice

Wild rice is pretty high in nutrient content, but, as with brown rice, the antinutrients are present and the minerals are mostly bound by phytate. In a 100g raw dose of wild rice:

  • 75 g carb
  • 6 g fiber
  • 1 g fat
  • 15 g protein
  • 0.115 mg thiamin
  • 6.7 mg niacin
  • 2 mg iron
  • 177 mg magnesium

If you’re willing and able to figure out a way to soak and ferment wild rice while retaining all nutrients and minerals and discarding the antinutrients, it’s probably not such a bad option for a post-glycolitic workout carb.

The Peril of Categorization

Wheat is not awful because it’s a grain. It’s awful because it contains gluten (among other things). “Grain” is simply a valuable linguistic tool to promote better dietary choice-making. Rice is a grain that happens to be not so awful in certain circumstances – on the occasional dinner plate of a lean, insulin-sensitive individual; after a glycogen-depleting workout; underneath a massive slab of yellowtail prepared specially by a sushi-chef in appreciation of your enthusiasm for his creations. It’s a cheat that almost isn’t, that neither necessitates eventual pangs of guilt nor causes – for most people – pangs of gastric distress.

There is nuance to all things. Though categorization is a valuable, essential data management tool, one that helped propel us to the top of the food chain (grouping bits of data together into categories allows us to handle more mental “stuff” at once), we run the risk of forgetting that these groups are made up of individual, non-homogenous bits. There is danger in missing the trees for the forest. Rice is a grain, yes, but it’s not the same as wheat, barley, oats, or corn. Avoiding grains as a general rule is good for your health, and that goes for rice, but be realistic. A bit of white rice with a restaurant meal is not going to kill you.

Don’t take this as blanket approval for immediate regular rice consumption, however. It’s not black and white. Rice exists on one end of the “grain suitability” continuum. You know how I’ve discussed the dairy continuum? Raw, grass-fed one on end and low-fat, homogenized, ultra-pasteurized on the other. It’s the same for grains. High-gluten wheat on one (very bad) end and rice on the other (don’t lose sleep if you eat it) end. Do I recommend ditching the entire group altogether, just to make things easy and avoid any possible irritants? Sure, but if grain consumption presents itself, or you literally are hamstrung by finances and simply need some calories, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it just because you ate some white rice.

Rice can even be a vehicle for the good stuff – for butter, ghee, coconut. It can also be a vehicle for the bad stuff – for vegetable oils, for sugar. In fact, it’s the essential neutrality of rice that makes it what it is. The problem with rice in most people’s diets is twofold: it serves as a vehicle for processed fat and sugar; and overweight, insulin-resistant folks with damaged metabolisms can’t handle the glucose load.

Rice fried in rancid corn oil? Avoid.
Rice fried in homemade ghee? Not so bad, necessarily.
Rice if you’re trying to lose weight? Avoid.
Rice if you’re lean and active? Not so bad, necessarily.

The Asian Paradox

This probably deserves a full post, but I’ll briefly discuss it here. I’m not going to sit here and claim that Asians don’t actually eat rice. They do. And they have for centuries while maintaining pretty good health and staying fairly lean. That’s changing nowadays, though, with the Westernization of their food. They’re eating more sugar and using vegetable oils for cooking, rather than traditional animal fats. These factors are deranging their metabolisms, turning the relatively benign rice starch into an enemy. It just suggests that carbs, in and of themselves, are benign in a metabolic vacuum. If you have everything else going right – insulin sensitivity, regular activity, absence of metabolic deranging foods like fructose, lectins, and excessive linoleic acid – pure starchy carbs aren’t going to be a big problem. But, especially in the States, we live in anything but a nutritional vacuum. We aren’t starting from ground zero. The overweight perimenopausal wife and mother of three working 50 hours a week is not starting from square one. She has an issue with glucose, one that might not be cured in a lifetime. For a person like that, avoidance of rice is recommended and probably necessary.

We have to face facts. Deranged has become normal. Glucose intolerance – or perhaps “mishandling” is better – has become standard. Where rice belongs in your life depends on where you fall on the metabolic derangement continuum.

What are your views on rice? Do you avoid it like the plague? Have a little in certain dishes? Let me know in the comment board on Grok on!

TAGS:  is it primal?

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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333 thoughts on “How Bad is Rice, Really?”

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    1. Oh but you forgot that sushi rice is made with vegetable oil (often) and white processed sugar (almost always).

      1. My wife is a sushi chef and I know for a fact that there is no vegetable oil used to make sushi rice. I don’t dispute the sugar statement, as the vinegar used for binding the rice is sweetened, hence the flavor of the rice. Sweetened by what, however, I’m not sure. I’d have to check the vinegar container label to find out. Pretty much the rice is just water in which it is steamed, and when fully cooked is mixed with an appropriate amount of the sushi vinegar.

        1. I’m Japanese, my dad is a Japanese and European trained chef and to boot, my parents own Japanese restaurants… there shouldn’t be sugar in shoyu. At least not in traditional Japanese shoyu, but its soy so it’s not really primal or paleo. I still use it because its one of those things I can’t break from, but also I use it in small quantities. My mom would cry salty shoyu tears if I totally gave up on soy sauce…

          Sushi rice has no oil in it at all (unless you are making some unusual variety that sounds unusual and would ruin the stickiness of the rice causing it to crumble). Traditional sushi rice is mirin (rice wine seasoning which totes has sugar in it) and sue (rice vinegar) blended in a large bamboo tub (it adds to the flavor). Chef’s make variations on this, my dad makes his own rice vinegar and it’s pretty fantastic. Some people do add sugar, but my parents do not, the mirin should be sufficiently sweet.

          1. Have you looked at Bragg’s liquid aminos as a substitute for soy sauce? I love it

        2. I am Japanese and I can’t eat all kind of grains, rice wheat buckwheat etc. I can’t digest any kind of grains at all!

      2. if you look at the soy sauce, a lot sold in us have sugar added,but you can find ones that do not.they are made for us consumption.its funny,at kroger the one with the oriental names had sugar,but the store brand did supposed to be fermented soy,but you know its faster to add really hard to find anything in the us without added sugar.

        1. I make my sushi with apple cider vinegar and honey, and we can’t use soy so we use coconut aminos, there are ways around everything 😉

    2. Sounds like the folks from the Middle East and Asia were on to something. Well for one, white rice soaks up flavors — and go better with heavy meat dishes — brown rice and meat is like woah. Plus they must of figured out how hard it was digesting the grains all whole.

    3. Absolutely love rice, but was heart broken to learn that grains are excluded on the Paleo diet. White rice will be a treat now and then, instead of a regular staple.

  1. You know, of all the different grains, rice actually raises my blood sugar the most! I check my BS levels after most meals, and when I cheat with rice, it shoots up around 140. When I cheat with sourdough or pastry then it goes up around 120. So I’m still avoiding it :).

    1. The difference is probably in the glycemic load. The pastry has fat that will slow down digestion and thus result in a lesser blood sugar spike.

    2. yeah i’m with you. it makes me feel like *&^%, as the Tourette’s guy would say. my body seems to know (and let me know) what’s not primal

  2. I indulge in rice 3-4 times a month – either with Thai food or in my Chipotle bowl. I don’t seem to experience any negatives from having it occasionally. I need to get more finger stick thingies so I can test my blood sugar after some of these “20%” items.

    With my almost-on-board-with-primal hubby, I don’t argue about rice. I’d rather him eat that than just about any of the other “stuff” he normally wants to eat.

    1. I also indulge in my Chipotle bowl and when I eat Asian foods. I think that if you’re lean and in good metabolic health, rice can be a good thing on occasion. We probably eat it about once a week.

      1. The only thing that worries me about Chipotle rice that it’s covered in soybean oil – as are most of their non-salad items.

        1. wow, looks like Chipotle uses soy oil in _everthing_ (except Cheese)

          so i’ll not eat there, as i’m trying to avoid soy. (i only eat @ Chipotle occasionally anyway)


  3. Yes- I avoid it like the plague. The carb overload is too much for me.

    1. agreed. rice is no good- it’s actually more glutonous (as in, turns into tough glue in your stomach) than wheat. think of a mochi ball in your stomach, comparred to a pate, purreed soup or smoothie.

  4. Interesting post, answers a lot of questions for me!

    One of my favorite treats since I was little has always been white rice with lots of butter on it. Having spent years avoiding it first because of the butter, then because of the carbs, maybe I should just relax and have some now and then. :p

  5. I have been (as part of my primal “shift” in diet) avoiding rice as well as all other cereal grains for a number of weeks now. I have gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, as well as trouble with corn and most beans. So I thought I could see further digestive relief by eliminating rice entirely. No real change, truthfully. I do feel better as a whole though, but I think that has to do more with keeping my carbs under control rather than the rice/no rice situation. What I’m wondering – where do the not-really-grains-but-considered-grains fall? Like buckwheat, quinoa, and the like? Yes, they’re higher in carbs and not so nutritionally dense, but are they “inert” like rice, or should they be avoided? Thoughts?

    1. read about them on wikipedia, etc. From what I’ve read, quinoa & amaranth are seeds from plants more closely related to broccoli, etc. Not seeds from grasses. They are sometimes referred to as “pseudo grains”. I’ve cooked quinoa a couple times in the past couple yrs & think “meh”. I’ve used the flour in a few recipes with mixed results (taste-wise). I have yet to try the amaranth flour.

        1. You need to thoroughly rinse the quinoa several times to remove the saponins when cooking. Quinoa is very good with Indian food!

        2. You need to thoroughly rinse the quinoa several times to remove the saponins before cooking. Quinoa is very good with Indian food!

    2. I would be interested to hear more about these grains as well. I’ve been gluten free for quite a few years (and rice was actually one of my least favorite grains) but I used to really enjoy my buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and teff. A post on these would be great? Or maybe a post showing the grain continuum?

    3. Quinoa is not a grain, but a protein-packed seed…the red quinoa has the best flavor…it is great mixed with asparagus slightly steamed then sauteed in Greek Olive oil, sliced into one-inch pieces, mixed with chopped sauteed red peppers…and seasoned with fresh Greek Oregano. I take this with me on my trips, and when my crrewmembers and passengers smell this warming in the oven, they get so envious!

      1. i used to eat it. i think it tastes pretty bad though–i would rather “cheat” with steel cut oats

    4. Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain have touched on quinoa before. Instead of gluten to punch a hole in your gut, quinoa has saponins. Probably best to avoid it. Haven’t heard anything about the others.

  6. I eat basmatti rice about once a month since I’ve gone primal and only a serving or two, no more.

    Before going primal, I ate rice almost everyday and I was quite overweight. I was in LOVE with rice and rice dishes and could hardly pass a rice dish by.

  7. I used to love the “concept” or rice because of its versatility. I never stopped to realize that I felt like crap after eating it though.
    Now I use “cauliflower rice” whenever a dish would normally be paired with rice, and it’s awesome!

    1. Totally. Considering how nutritious and easy cauliflower rice is, I think the only reason to eat rice is if some else has already cooked it for you, and you’re in a polite mood.

  8. If I go out for curry, I allow myself ONE spoonful with dinner. Otherwise, I skip it. (so less than once a month)
    I have some friends who think they are being better by choosing brown over white. I am going to print this out for them to help them rethink that decision.

  9. sushi and thai food are not the same without rice. I enjoy them occasionally and I agree that rice is a fairly benign grain.

  10. You can always make cauliflower rice. Why eat something that has more negatives than positives?

    1. For those of us with thyroid issues, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and the like are out of the question because they mess even further with our already screwed up metabolism.

      Add in wheat and corn issues and most foods are off the table. Rice, oats, quinoa and amaranth are a few things I can tolerate in small quantities when balanced with loads of protein and fats.

      1. Dr. Andrew Weil has an answer to a question concerning this topic, and it is that goitrogen, the compound that interferes with thyroid activity, is inactivated when those veggies (and other vegetables containing goitrogen) are steamed or cooked, so you might want to rethink sacrificing those nutrients!

        1. This comment directly above is incorrect about goitrogens.

          (Also, I know that Dr. Weil is more relaxed about goitrogens than some other experts are, but even so, I don’t think that he has written about goitrogens in *such* simplistic terms.)

          Some goitrogens in some foods are inactivated when they are cooked. However, the typical American cooking techniques and cooking times for MOST foods that contain goitrogens do not eliminate their goitrogens. For example, you have to out-and-out boil broccoli for 30 minutes to eliminate 90% of its goitrogens. Most people these days lightly steam or simmer broccoli for about 6 minutes or something, or even eat it raw. That does not get rid of too many goitrogens.

          The goitrogens in some foods are not eliminated at all with cooking. Millet is an example. Cooking millet actually makes its goitrogens more harmful to people. Millet is in a lot of stuff out there these days – cereals, multi-grain bread and crackers, gluten-free products of all varieties.

          The goitrogens in a food like cassava (from which tapioca comes) are so damaging that some entire populations are basically hypothyroid because cassava is one of their main food sources, especially in lean times. Tapioca flour seems to be in everything “gluten-free”.

          Ditto for flax seed, which has goitrogens in it.

          Almonds do too. Peanuts too. Peaches too. And bok choy.

          The list is very long – I think I have a list of 100 that I compiled.

          Which list I actually posted on Dr. Weil’s website forum about 6 years ago, so it still might be there.

          Celiac disease as an autoimmune disease is hypothesized to be related to other autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism, yet so many American folks with celiac seem to be scarfing up mass quantities of almond flour, tapioca flour, ground flax, etc., which can’t be good for their thyroid glands.

          Hypothyroid people who think they might get a little healthier if they eat a little healthier may not realize that so much of the celiac-specific recipes and supermarket products are not going to be very good for them.

          One thing I am pretty sure that Dr. Weil still has up on his site about goitrogenic foods is that affected people should not eat more than 1 serving a day of (any) goitrogenic foods, and that one or less serving should be well-cooked, or ideally fermented. When you look at the list of scores and scores of goitrogenic foods, and you consider that even in Dr. Weil’s world (as far as I can remember his position on this), one ought to only have 7 *well-cooked* portions from that entire list in an entire week, that’s a lot of bother, hoop-jumping, and near-elimination of many of the American daily dietary staples from one’s regular consumption.

    2. … or if you really dislike the taste of cauliflower, even if it’s smothered in flavourful sauce… that taste has a way of sneaking its way through anything! 🙁

    3. Cauliflower is also a problem if you have ibs or fructose malabsorption. I would personally rather eat something that is neutral and will help bulk out the meal and fill me up than eat something that’s going to cause me to run too the loo and spit out all those vitamins my body would otherwise have absorbed.

      I don’t get all the negativity surrounding rice. It seems that nuts have their own issues (namely enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid) yet nothing bad is said about them..?!

  11. Unlike the other grains, sugar, and dairy — which bring the hammer down upon my body — I actually seem to do perfectly fine with some nice sushi once a month or so. (I am of western European ancestry, not Asian.)

  12. I haven’t eaten rice since stopping eating grains in general last November.

    For me it’s all about the carb load that rice would deliver.

    My newly resensitized metabolism that now works in a low carb and consequently low insulin environment doesn’t want that kind of carb load – period!

    Fascinating post, thanks.

  13. Currently I’ve given up rice, as I’m focusing on increasing my overall health, detoxing from grain consumption and processed food doom, and losing weight. It’s nice to know that the occasional dose high quality white rice (koshihikari is great) will not destroy my soul after I have the situation under control.

  14. Hi Mark,

    I usually avoid rice and I only eat it occasionally. I’ve learned to stay away from foods witch contain too many substances we’re not naturally made to digest well. Now that I think about it, I never was a big fan of rice…

  15. No I am no longer partaking in rice. If my husband and I were to go to sushi I probably would not pass up some rolls. But I feel much better without it in my diet. I do indulge in wild rice on occasion, and I don’t have any issues with it.

  16. I had white rice the other night with chinese food – no guilt 🙂

    I enjoyed sushi rolls a few months back that included white rice and the were awesome! The next time I have an opportunity to enjoy sushi rolls I won’t care if white rice is inside. I eat them for the raw fish – no the rice!

    1. If you’re really in it for the raw fish, try sashimi. I can only deal with the rice in about 3 pieces of makizushi or 2 of nigirizushi, so I usually stick with plain sashimi and seaweed salad.

      I’m kind of amused by people talking about “sushi without the rice”, because sushi directly refers to the vinegared rice…

      1. I also love sashimi and seaweed salad however the seaweed salad is a treat for me, not a regular, as it is saturated with rice wine vinegar (which has a lot of sugar in it!)

  17. I’m from Europe and wouldn’t know what to eat rice with besides chicken broth.

    If I cheat with something starchy it’s definately potato!

  18. I know for me, the thought of eating even a grain of rice strikes fear into my heart. But then, I have ulcerative colitis, and I’m on a diet to cure it that allows absolutely no starches or sugars (except monosaccharides like in fruit).

    What I’m wondering, is if you put rice into this category, would sugar also go there? I mean, doesn’t white rice, being so refined, spike your blood sugar as much as sugar would?

    Either way, even though it doesn’t SEEM too offensive for a certain subset of people, I don’t think it should ever be considered anything more than your ’20’. No matter how you look at it, Grok wouldn’t have eaten rice, and if he did it would be unprocessed, soaked/fermented rice. So while it may be okay on occasion as a ‘sensible vice,’ I definitely don’t think it should be considered Primal.

    1. I am not sure why you think that fruit contains only mono saccharides. They contain all sorts of sugars, including sucrose which are di saccharides. They also contain some amount of starch and fiber which are polysaccharides.

      White Rice is mostly starch, and contains negligible fiber. I wouldn’t think it will be more difficult to digest than fruits, but there might be other things that cause problems for you. It will definitely not be because of starch.

      Sugars as in sucrose contains a fructose, which is difficult to handle by our body in large quantities. And for people who do have metabolic disorders. So sugar will be a worse food compared to rice.

  19. A couple of things- the old joke about eating Chinese food and being hungry an hour later is based on rice- It metabolizes so quickly that you really ARE hungry soon after. If you grew up in Asia, where rice was often the only food, metabolically, you are very different from most Americans. I know at my favorite Szechuan restaurant, when I see the owner’s father, at 90 yrs and roughly 90 pounds, consume a bowl of rice the size of my head, I am terribly frustrated. But I didn’t spend my childhood hungry and he did.
    This is also why many forms of Chinese medicine are much less effective on westerners. It isn’t the medicine, it is us- we are not living in the bodies that the medicine evolved to help.
    Secondly, the good stuff in ALL grains was measured in the mid-fifties and hasn’t been updated. Given the power of the USDA and grain lobbyists, it likely won’t. But the soil the grain is grown in isn’t updated either. The occasional chemical spray, but no full spectrum neutrients like compost is par. So all those good things are largely in the past (and in the delta of the Mississippi.)
    In other words, even if you are a person who tolerates grain well, it is empty calories (we now grow up to 20x the grain on the same land we did 50 years ago) that bump out nutritionally dense foods.
    Grok On!

    1. Agree with every bit, especially the vision of the skinny old fella eating the bowl of rice the size of my head at the next table! Another metabolic difference in Asians from rice cultures is an anatomically larger pancreas. often as much as 50% larger.

      1. Could you tell me where that fact comes from? I’ve heard it before, but would like to be able to find the source of that information. Thanks!

        1. There is an interesting free full text paper here
          “Pancreas volumes in humans from birth to age one hundred taking into account sex, obesity, and presence of type-2 diabetes”

          It’s complicated as pancreas volume changes with age, BMI.
          Table 4 compares studies and doesn’t IMO support the claim Asian’s have a relatively larger pancreas than Caucasian’s.

  20. I could care less for rice! I was never a big fan even when I believed CW and thought it was an important diet staple. After I got primal I don’t think I will ever intentionally eat a bite of rice again. When I do need those extra carbs I’d rather go for a sweet potato smothered in butter any day!!

  21. I personally am still in the lean down phase, so I’m steering clear for the most part, BUT I have something to add for those who occasionally indulge in grains or starchy vegetables.

    Tip: Add lots of fats when possible to your grains. The combo of fat like butter, olive oil or animal fats on top and the Gi index drops, having lesser effect on your insulin spike.

  22. I think Sushi Rice was the hardest of the grains to give up. It seemed like such a perfect Primal choice to have hunks of raw fish with avocado and seaweed. That is until you get to the rice….

    Sashimi became the new Primal alternative, but I never realized how much the rice was working as a filler until I ate the Sashimi. I can eat SO MUCH Sashimi (I actually wish they would just cut up the hunk of tuna in the Sushi frig for me). However, this has made Sushi VERY EXPENSIVE, and served as a real deterrent from the whole idea.

    In light of this article I will just treat it like Primal “Junk Food”. It will be my occasional slip.

  23. Fermenting/soaking brown rice will probably lead to the leaching of some of the minerals into the soaking water. Nevertheless, you will still end up absorbing more minerals than you would from either unsoaked brown rice or white rice.

      1. I was taught in a macrobiotic cooking class that you should discard the soaking water as it has absorbed all the digestion inhibiting chemicals. Wash out the rice after soaking prior to cooking.

        1. And now (late 2012/early 2013) Consumer Reports has reported that most rice has arsenic in it, and the traditional Asian method (of boiling it in a large quantity of water and draining it before eating) gets rid of much more arsenic than the typical American way of cooking rice (just using as much water in the pot for cooking that the rice can absorb, and not rinsing it or draining it after cooking, which leaves all the arsenic in the serving).

  24. Living on the Texas Gulf Coast, I am used to eating a lot of rice. Good to know that it’s an OK cheat.

    1. Haha, my feelings exactly. And what a well-done one to welcome us readers back! Don’t get me wrong, the primal challenge is great and gets everyone enthusiastic but I missed articles like these!

  25. I’ve concluded that starch loads are fine for people with normal metabolisms. The Kitavans seem to do well on a high carb diet and Stephen Guyenet just wrote up some potato eating cultures of S. America who were also quite healthy. Note that most Americans do not fall into the category of “normal metabolism”.

    If you need to add calories to your diet and you are already eating a solid primal diet with adequate nutrients then you can add “untainted” starches such as rice and potato.

    My own personal experience is that too low of a carb load negatively affects my workouts and recovery. Adding in some rice or potato (and I’m talking tablespoons, not cups) did the trick. Gluten and fructose are the real criminals here. Starch just needs to find some better friends so he doesn’t get blamed for their misdeeds.

    1. I totally agree with this. I developed thyroid problems and adrenal gland problems from going low carb (only eating fruit carbs) for a year. My health was never worse. I have been slowly recovering since then. I should’ve listened to my body, but I was kind of brainwashed by all the hype. I felt awful for a year, mentally and physically, like an anorexic, except with normal calories. Funny thing is, when I leave out all starchy carbs and get most of my calories from protein and fats then my calorie intake also really increases because I feel so hungry and weak all the time. I have no insulin problems at all, but I do have stress problems and lowering carb intake seems to make those stress symptoms worse.

      1. That is interesting. I have thyroid problems and am just starting a paleo experiment with my diet. My instinct has been to leave in some properly prepared soaked grains (Nourishing Traditions style). I think I will stick with my instincts! I’m definitely going to lower my grain intake, though. Or maybe I will eliminate them for a few weeks and then add some back to see how I feel.

    2. That’s an interesting point. Interestingly, I am asian and grew up on loads of starch and was never overweight until I moved to the US. Since I moved here, I have been a little overweight my whole life and I find that it always helps when I cut down the starches and sugars (though I have never completely eliminated them). When I intermittently spend some time abroad (Africa, Asia) for a few months, I don’t have as much choice in foods so end eating tons of starches like rice and beans. I didn’t lose weight but I certainly didn’t gain weight eating higher amounts of starch than I would normally at home in the US (physical activity remained the same as well). Had I eaten that amount of starch in the US, I would have ballooned up.

      This is a long winded way of saying that all the preservatives, fructose and other crap American food companies and distributors add to food that should just be served whole as nature intended probably has a significant factor as to why so many Americans are overweight in addition to the whole insulin sensitivity issue.

  26. Spot-on post. I am down with ambiguity and there is plenty of that in managing a primal lifestyle in a modern world. The tri-monthly indulgence in sashimi is too beautiful to be compromised due to paleo constraints toward grains. Again, great job on openning up the perspective on grains and rice in the primal lifestyle.

  27. A couple of points:

    1. A little poking around on the web shows it’s not at all clear that oats contain gluten. There are other issues with oats, but gluten may or may not be one of them.

    2. I feel like I’m unusually insulin sensitive, and rice seems to spike it really quickly because I feel very sleepy shortly after a meal that includes a large amount of rice. In that sense, it’s like pasta for me. Now that I’m mostly paleo, of course, this doesn’t happen any more, but I still get a little sleepy after eating rice.

    1. Oats naturally contain no gluten. Usually they pick it up by processing in the same facility as wheat. Does a lack of gluten make it healthy? I am hardly one to properly judge.

      1. They contain “Avenin” which by many is considered similar enough to avoid

    2. I feel like I might have commented on this too the last time he posted about gluten. Oats do not contain gluten in the sense that wheat does. The wikipedia entry is actually scientifically accurate about this. The problem gluten wise is that oats are often grown as a rotation crop with wheat. So you get ‘volunteers’ in the field contaminating the harvest, along with anything it picks up in processing.
      And I also agree, there likely ARE issues with oats, but gluten ISN’T the problem here.

      1. Well, they’re high in (soluble) fiber, which the CW likes but Mark doesn’t like, and they have the other grain characteristics that Mark deplores — which essentially amount to high carbs/low fat and protein, as I understand it.

        1. I would think insoluble fiber would be even worse than soluble. The problem with insoluble fiber is that if they are not broken into fine enough pieces, once it absorbs water it is big enough to not easily pass through the celia in the small intestines. There it has a tendency to cause damage.
          Normally this damage would not be severe, but if you eat too much insoluble fiber, and/or your gut health is impaired then they will worsen your gut health.

          I am not sure how soluble fiber causes problem, except causing bloating and gas, due to the fermentation.

    3. yeah i am really sensitive to carbs (IBS like) and i do worse with rice than oats. maybe cuz i douse the oats with heavy cream and nuts

    4. i kind of feel like you with the insulin sensitivity. i wonder if, by eating foods higher in sugar and starch, overeating and not exercising enough, we become more insulin sensitive? like if we had never eaten anything bad in our lives and were highly fit and active, we wouldn’t be so sensitive to sugary foods? i don’t know, just a random thought.

  28. I agree – so great to have the articles back! I occasionally give my kids a protein powder shake with either rice or oat milk. Does anyone know whether the lectins or anti-nutrients are present in the milk?

    1. Why not use unsweetened almond or coconut milk instead of the rice or oat milk?

  29. This was a great post! I feel like I learned so much! I have been wondering about this for some time. I would picture Shaolin monks and think “But they eat it all the time!” Thanks for the info Mark! Hey, also, I think you should do One more contest so someone, me I hope, can win a container of your new Primal Fuel!

  30. I vote YES for a post on all the different breeds of cattle! Our favorite are Murray Grey. Their meat is well-marbled, tender and flavorful, even when raised on pasture only. Yum. Last year we got a quarter MG beef, and the meat was gone in no time (best T-Bone steaks I’ve ever had). This year we’re getting a 1/2 MG beef, so it should last a little longer.
    A post on pig breeds would be great too. Around here most farmers raise Hampshire/Duroc cross (very lean). Last year we got 1/2 of a Glouchestershire Old Spot finished on apples and acorns, and this year we’re getting 1/2 of a Red Wattle finished on hazelnuts.
    I’d rather have good meat and fat than rice any day.

  31. Dear Mark,

    First of all, many thanks for your website. I discovered it 2-3 months ago and it has changed my view on things drastically. I have a question which I have been struggling with and maybe you have time to reply: The CW has it that a diet too rich in animal products/protein/fat is too acidic for the body. How do you deal with that, if at all? Do you think that eating lots of vegetables (and sometimes fruit) can balance this?

    many thanks! Grok on 😉

  32. Oats don’t contain gluten.

    Most oats are contaminated with gluten traces due to field locations and processing alongside gluten grains in the same facilities. Therefore, celiacs have to avoid oats. This has led to people believing that oats have gluten.

    You can buy gluten-free oats. Normal oats but not processed along with wheat.

  33. Really enjoyed this article! Well done Mark, as usual! I’ve been articulating a very similar take on rice for a while now. I find it to be a very useful food to consume sparingly, at most 1-2 times a week, when I require a lot of starch for refeeds or post-workout.

  34. When I was pregnant, especially in the first trimester when I was having so many food aversions and nausea, I ate a good bit of rice.

    I’d cook it in homemade chicken stock so it would soak up nutrients that way, and load it up with a ton of butter.

    Sometimes I’d sprinkle in a little soy sauce, and other times I’d add cheddar cheese. It was something I could easily tolerate and a good vehicle for butter, while still filling up my tummy the way chicken stock alone wouldn’t.

    I had also been having a hard time even getting to 1000 calories a day before I decided to try rice. With the rice (and butter, etc), it was easy to get to a more reasonable caloric level for the day.

    Describing it as a “blank slate” is certainly accurate.

    If I were trying to lose weight, I’d avoid it. But I’m not, so I have it now and then. 🙂

    1. PS I also ate a lot of white potatoes for the same reason – loaded them up with butter, cheese, sour cream… they don’t affect my digestion the way gluten grains do, but they’re certainly just a blank slate the way white rice is.

      1. Potatoes are not a blank slate. They are more nutritious than many fruits. Just check it out on nutrition data.
        They also have lesser fructose than fruits, as in none ;-).

  35. As an Asian I consider rice my birthright, in fact I said so as I put some on my plate the other night when we had didder with friends. What I don’t do anymore is cook a batch in my rice cooker and eat it with every meal until it is gone. It has now become a sometimes treat and I don’t really miss it.

    1. weird eh? i thought potatoes were my birthright, being Irish. i can’t eat them to any serious degree. I sure miss them. fish and beer, still OK. maybe all the other stuff we ate that we shouldn’t have for years sensitized us?

  36. Wild rice is not related to white or brown rice. Totally different genus. It also doesn’t contain gluten, and has much more fiber. I would choose wild rice over all the other choices.

    1. I agree that wild rice is a grass and not in the same family as rice and from the Canadian Journal of Plant Science it would seem that when cooked, it lowers lysine values when cooked . The cost though of this grain is prohibitively expensive to eat every day it proves to be a good additive to ground beef.

    2. that I’ve read rice doesn’t have gluten. ‘Glutenous’ rice is just that marketing name for rice that sticks together. Only ‘processed’ rice sprayed with wheat water would have gluten. my $.01

  37. I just started a month of no grains in my diet to see how I feel off them completely. However, it would be nice to be able to tell my kind and generous friends that occasional rice in the meals they invite me over to share would be ok. They have been very understanding in my dietary changes, though they don’t practice similarly…yet! We’ll see how my month goes before I offer up rice as a viable option!

  38. Sushi. I never eat it otherwise. Come winter, I may do a variation on po’ man’s rice pudding, but likely not.

  39. So you’re saying Rice Krispy treats are OK? 🙂

    Seriously rice was one of my favorite grains before going Primal. I travel to Asia a lot and it is hard to avoid there. Still I rarely eat it at home and since I don’t eat out often when not traveling, I do enjoy it when I have Asian cuisine.

    Now please come out with a post saying naan is good for you!!!

    1. Ooo, naan. This would definitely be a part of my 80/20 if I could get near an Indian restaurant. So yummy.

  40. I’m an English teacher in Japan. At my schools we have school lunch. Two days a week, it is bread-based, the other three days it is rice-based. I eat the rice on rice days. And, luckily for me, the bread comes in a nice package that I can take home and feed to the deer.

  41. David, I have read on several celiac sites that all grains contain gluten, just different types. The gluten protein in wheat, barley & rye that celiacs react to is gliadin. Researchers suspect that some celiacs are sensitive to all glutens.

    However, you are correct about the cross contamination point. Still, it doesn’t mean that some folks won’t react to oats. I happen to be one of them.

    So, celiacs need to proceed with caution even with GF oats.
    I react to rice too and decided to avoid all grains (and soy.)

    Before switching to grain free I used to experience pain in my gallbladder/liver area. Of course I also upped my healthy fats at the same time so I credit both moves with that improvement and others.

  42. haha, I’ve been saying this in the forums for a while. I totally feed my skinny family members white rice with dinners sometimes and I don’t feel bad about it at all. It’s fairly benign as far as grains go. I don’t indulge much since I have weight to lose but I do love it! I would go bankrupt trying to feed the 4 of us completely primal so rice is a perfect cheap filler. “The Peril of Categorization”- exactly! nice post.

  43. as I was educating myself regarding type 2 diabetes..I was astonished as to how highly glycemic rice was..even brown rice..! since then…as I made all the primal changes..I avoid it completely. once in a while a eat a tablespoon..

    1. Speaking of diabetes, didn’t Taubes in Good Calories, Bad Calories mention that diabetes came to India when Indians started eating rice imported from Thailand etc. I am away from my copy of GCBC, so please confirm.

      1. That is totally untrue. I’m from southern part of India where rice is our staple food. Our ancestors had been eating only rice based foods and I cannot remember a traditional recipe from our region that is wheat based. In fact rice is considered so divine, it is offered to God for worship as well. So if Taubes is right, then all our ancestors would have been suffering from Diabetes.

  44. I love rice, but it actually seems to be the most problematic grain for me in terms of bloat/water retention/overall ickiness. So, I’ve come to avoid it mos of the time, though I will splurge for sushi.

  45. I’m an Overseas Chinese and I -DESPISE- rice. And all other large carb sources for that matter. Haven’t touched it in two years and there are no plans to restart on it, now or in the future.

  46. I’m more and more diverging my thinking towards the idea that starch is not bad per se. With the recent series on potatoes by Stephan from whole health source and the fact that starch ends up as glucose exclusively instead of fruit, where you also get an appreciable amount of fructose.

    The folks from the perfect health diet also recommend a small portion of the diet coming from starch and it makes sense because they’re in favor of limiting proteins. I think that they bring some great points.

    With that said however, starch is most of the time much less nutritious than meat and fats so I still opt for the latter, but I would understand someone who wanted to go a bit higher on starch consumption. There is also the fact that most people’s metabolic machinery isn’t fit anymore for a higher carb load, but this is an whole other story.

    1. it’ll catch up w ya eventually i think. the adrenal glands and pancreas of a young person can take it better…which doesn’t mean it’s good

    1. Potatoes have potassium, magnesium etc. White rice has starch. Potato > Rice IMO

  47. I eat white rice probably twice a week. I am never giving it up. I eat brown rice once in a while when it sounds good.

  48. It’s not just the diet that changes it’s the labor. My grandfather shoveled coal into a steam locomotive 60 hours a week and was slim as a rail despite his potato heavy diet. His grandson spends a good part of the day on his duff in front of a screen or a wheel.

    Developing nations are rapidly urbanizing and folks are coming from a life in the fields w/o mechanization into jobs that require far fewer calories. I’m not sure there is a paradox at all.

  49. I’ve never been a huge fan of rice even in my pre-PB days (in fact, I really don’t see the appeal in it) – it’s just a lot of nothing to me. But a while ago I came a cross a wild rice risotto recipe that is absolutely to die for. I make it a few times a year, enjoy the hell out of it and don’t sweat my scant rice consumption.

  50. I eat rice maybe twice or three times a month without catastrophic effects. Depending on I guess if I go out or not much during the month. Mainly basmati rice with indian (rarely), thai maybe once every few weeks, and sushi maybe once per week.

  51. Hello Mark…

    I completely avoid rice like the plague. It makes me feel bloated and ravenous one hour after eating it. It’s not worth the trouble it does to my system, imo.

  52. Since adopting the Primal /Paleo way of eating since a year ago, I have reduced eating rice significantly. My family still eats rice except for my 1 year old whom I control very much of his diet, after learning that this is the best way to eat. Eating this way certainly works for me in many ways. However, I still eat rice now and then, and when I do, I control the portion. The most is half the size of my fist, never more. This is the best portion for me, besides, I don’t make it a staple so eating rice this way doesn’t create havoc to my system. Yes, eating coconut based curry is good with rice and I usually don’t finish the rice when we eat in a Thai restaurant, or Indian for that matter.

    Having living in Japan for 10 years, I’ve learned that their diet is healthier than that in the US, although they eat lots of carbs in the form of rice or noodles. But increasingly, they eat ready made convenient store food and imported US fast food such as STARBUCKS, KrispyKreme and the likes. It would be interesting to see how their health goes in 10 or 15 years time, especially among young people.

  53. I just avoid it because its not hard to do so. This is something I have not missed. Its just a bland filler that does nothing beneficial. So why eat it.

  54. I remember hearing that the synthetic vitamins that fortify white rice are reattached using gluten from wheat. Perhaps you can rinse them off…

    Stir fry is just fine without the rice.

  55. Great post. I love this stuff – balanced, informative – I can make decisions on what’s appropriate for me and my family armed with good knowledge. Ditto the comments with further insights on oats.

    I’ve still been using a bit too much rice (gluten-free baking substitutes) in a ‘lazy’ phase but I think I’ll use a little less. Actually I don’t tend to have much at all with meals now – it’s funny, you get used to eating differently and just skipping the starch. But it remains a good wheat-free alternative for my non-primal family.

    Thanks heaps!

  56. I try not beat myself if I eat a spoonful of rice sometimes. I grew up in rice eaters’ island, Japan! However, I would be concerned about sushi rice…we use quite a bit of sugar to season rice for sushi rice. Also the sweet sauces that is drizzled over rolls are loaded with sugar. Sashimi, however, just some slices of raw fish is delicious and part of PB food.

  57. Very informative! This really means guilt free meals where sushi and fragrant coconut rice with curry is concerned. On occasions of course. Grok on!

  58. I’ve been living in Hong Kong for about two months, avoiding rice all the way, which has been an expensive and inconvenient annoyance. Much thanks as this eases the load a little bit.

  59. I’ve never really loved rice very much. I’ll only eat it with sushi, or Chinese take out, or alternately, beans and rice with Cuban food. But we don’t eat those things too often anyway.

    I haven’t eaten rice since going “primal,” or much starch of any kind. We did have pizza tonight, for the first time since I went primal, and I noticed that my cheeks flushed, just as if I’d had a few drinks, even though all I’d had was water. I wonder if the next time I eat rice, this will happen.

  60. I’ve lived in Taiwan for two years now and recently went Paleo/Primal again. I try to avoid rice and don’t eat any atm. It’s a staple here and people think I’m somehow crazy for not eating it. I must say I don’t really miss it. If I go to a Sushi place I generally just order Sashimi and vegetables.

  61. Love the source on this one (Didn’t know “The American Association of Cereal Chemists” even existed!):

    “…and allergic reactions generally manifest as atopic dermatitis, eczema, gastrointestinal distress, or asthma.”

    All of the above for me. Cutting out all grains eliminated all reactions.

  62. Hi Mark, I eat rice occasionally (couple times a month?), mostly if I’m wanting something chewy, or to replace noodles in a chicken soup, but I can’t have much in a serving or my blood sugar skyrockets. It’s a good budget stretcher with the kids (picky picky!) and I’d rather they eat that than pasta. Always lots o’ butter or fat with it.

    Also a rare cheat is Asian rice noodles, maybe in a stir fry. Glucose spike yes, but at least no wheat allergy.

  63. Ok, now what about beans?

    I, and a bunch of friends, are concerned about the economic future, and have been stockpiling food.

    Beef, lamb, chicken, and pork don’t store as well as rice, beans, and wheat do.

    I understand wheat. I get that white rice is probably neutral.

    What about beans?

  64. i have rice few times/week since it taste fairly neutral; it’s gentle on my digestive system. (wheat sometimes gives me horrible bloating). + i grew up with rice. it’s harmless enough for _healthy_ people.

    i don’t care for potato, bread, quino. so why would i waste my “starch” allowance? i’d rather skip. cauliflower tastes pretty bland & nasty (to me).
    even you grind it up to make it look like rice. it still does not tastes as neutral & functional as rice. also grinding sounds more tedious than soaking/fermenting.

    so i’ll stay with rice. thank you.
    (oh, i also like millet & coix too.)


  65. My interesting reaction to rice:
    In the past I’ve fasted (3, 5, 7, 10 days without any food), and usually progressed with better diets as I became accustomed to fasting. I noticed that, whenever I would eat rice (white or brown) a few days after a fast, I would get a runny nose WHILE I’m eating them. This never happened when I would eat fruits, veggies, and nuts. But ever since I’ve become a ‘Grok’onian I’ve realized why I was reacting the way I did to rice. Thanks for the wonderful life-saving info!!!!

    1. Just wanted to add something. I’ve been heavily invested in health from a holistic viewpoint for a few years now. I’ve read various studies ranging from the flawed ‘China Study’ to the less noticed ‘Enzyme Factor’ by Dr. Shinya Hiromi. Although he advocates a mostly vegetarian diet, I adhere to some of his advice strictly for his impressive qualifications as a world renowned gastroenterologist with over 40 years of experience treating patients. He has personally seen the devastating effects that diet plays in one’s health, and thus has created a basic outline for his patients to heal their bodies. He essentially puts them on a plant-based diet, with PLENTY of brown rice and little meat. Afterward he would check on them and lo and behold, their colons are revived from years of abuse. It’s an interesting paradigm. Food for fodder 🙂

  66. I have eaten no grains whatsoever for several years – I don’t miss them at all and considering their meagre nutritional profile (and considerable anti-nutritional profile) I see no logical reason to include them ever when there are so many better foods available.

    I think starches in general are pretty tasteless on their own so it is only flavours from other foods or herbs and spices that are served with it that gives it any flavour. As carriers of flavouring they may have some merit but other than that they are just nutritionally poor fillers.

    With regard to oats and gluten, gluten is the name for the major protein in wheat. Oat protein is avenin. A study with celiac and non-celiac children showed that many of the celiac children showed an immune reaction to the oat protein avenin independently of any reaction to gluten or gliadin from wheat.

  67. Ah grains, rice, oats are all foods that we can eat. Moderation is the key. They are God given food to eat.

    Personally I don’t like rice. However Bruce Lee ate it and he looked great. I don’t think thats what killed him.

  68. Riiiggght. Seriously, Rice does NOT make you fat. Look at all the ‘fatties’ in Asia. LOL.

    Eating more calories than you use makes you fat. period. Stop eating your biggie sized junk food, processed foods, fatty mcfat fat foods and get off the couch.

    1. Condescending much? Do yourself a favor and read Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories.

      1. No. YOU do your research. I eat rice few times a week and eat grains as well in my diet and im far from fat. Eating too many cals = weight gain, period. You can still eat rice as long as you watch your cals and still lose weight if you want. Theres many ways to skin a cat you know.

        1. Read Taubes cover to cover and then come back. It isn’t about total calories, Atkins proved that conclusively half a century ago, it’s where those calories come from and how the body handles them.

          And, it isn’t about how fat or otherwise you are either as to whether a certain item is good or bad to eat.

  69. I’m thinking steamed white rice and veggies for a workout meal. I haven’t eaten rice in 10 months, so I will be able to tell right away how it affects me. On second thought, I will add nice big pieces of strip steak in with the veggies and rice…lol.

  70. Rice gives me stomach cramps. That’s all I need to know. No rice for me. And Rice Chex cereal, the taste of which I like, makes my blood glucose soar.

  71. Not all grains are bad. An occasional shot of bourbon seems to be good for me.

  72. I’d like to have sushi once in a long while . . . but I hope y’all realize that “sushi rice” isn’t just rice, it also has sugar in it. Part of why sushi tastes good, alas.

  73. I think your last paragraph is the most important one. I’ve seen too many people cling to some kind of “magic diet” where they eliminate carbs or fat or everything but shrimp from their diets and claim that they’re healthy. I’d much rather see them adopt a lifestyle where they eat a bit less, consume more fresh vegetables and move around more. If they get to that point, a bit of rice won’t kill them.

    It’s the 80/20 idea. You can spend hours trying to figure out how to cook rice or you can go for a nice walk and then come back to eat a moderate portion of that yellow tail sushi (I’m partial to Salmon myself but hey) without worrying about it with a nice salad.

  74. Always avoid rice except for every 2-4 months when I visit the all you can eat sushi bar.

  75. My toddler has weight gaining issues, so I feed her anything that isn’t poisonous or straight up sugary. I’m glad to know that even as I dive deeper into primalhood for myself and my husband, my daughter who is very slim is not poisoning herself with her coveted Chicken Fried Rice (made with coconut oil when at home). Thanks, Mark. I was afraid she’d only have potatoes. Now I won’t feel so bad limiting her “noodle” intakes. (Yes, I try to feed her high protein and veg/fruit foods, but let’s be real, she’s 2 and needs some chub, of which she has none)

  76. Great analysis on rice. I’ve always wondered about clean white rice since it seems at that point just a carb.

    One thing to think about regarding fermenting, that does indeed open up a whole door to a few really yummy Indian foods I remember from days past. Right off the top I am thinking of dosas which were fermented white rice pancakes. I suppose on “cheat” days, you can have one…

  77. Great post on Rice. I eat Sushi and hence a small amount (maybe 1/2 cup) of white rice weekly, with no apparent negative effects- I’m gluten and soy intolerant, but as long as I steer clear of the soy sauce and tempura, I can eat sushi and feel good afterwards- and it’s one of the few types of food I can eat safely without getting sick. I basically consider the rice a filler with no real nutritional contribution except the carbs that I don’t need from it, but I do adore sushi, so my Husband and I (both on PB) thoroughly enjoy our weekly sushi date with no regrets!

  78. Mark, a few points:

    – Oats don’t have gluten.
    – Phytic acid is not just in grains, it’s in paleo nuts and seeds. Almonds have more phytic acid than any grain.
    – You list lectins and then say they are inactivated by cooking. So ergo, unless you eat rice raw, not a problem.
    – You recommend white rice instead of brown rice. This is an odd idea, like saying white bread is healthier than whole grain bread. If people should eat grains, they should eat the healthiest kind, and I do not think that refined grains devoid of fiber and much lower in nutrition are healthier. Whole grain tastes better, too, than bland white bread.

    This has always been my main problem with articles like this. They’re not convincing, and anybody who eats lots of grains and considers them healthy is not going to be won over.

    Grains *may* not be the devil. I think paleo is a good alternative to SAD eating. I refuse to see grains as “poison” like many do.

    1. I forgot to add that phytic acid, saponins, are all greatly reduced by soaking and fermenting.

      Nixtamalization (soaking in an alkaline solution) also increases the nutritional value of corn.

    2. Actually nuts should not be in a regular paleo/primal diet. They are not available year round. Also if you don’t consume them a lot, you will do fine.

      Grains on the other hand, need to be processed. You cannot eat grains without doing some kind of processing to them. The processing required requires utensils which were not available during paleolithic period. So we could not have eaten them for a very long time.

      White rice has much less poisons, and so is good as an occasional treat. But don’t try to convince people here that grains are not the devil. That will get you nowhere.

  79. Since I started Paleo, I stopped eating rice, which I substitute with pressure-cooked sunflower seeds (500mg seed, 1000ml liquid, 20min). Similar texture, great taste. Sometimes I even process 1-2 cups seeds with some liquid, depending on the desired texture, and mix back with the whole seeds, and add some meat and veggies to a “risotto” dish.

  80. Sorry, I can’t get behind the ‘rice bad’ and neither can Grok entirely based on the post.

    The Rice diet book and plan is over 70 years old. Why haven’t you heard of it? No products to push! (Note how MS also pushes his stuff) Millions of people have eaten ‘carbs’ particularly rice and breads it for thousands of years. It’s not ‘bad’ nor are all carbs. He dodges this but does mention “It just suggests that carbs, in and of themselves, are benign in a metabolic vacuum. If you have everything else going right – insulin sensitivity, regular activity, absence of metabolic deranging foods like fructose, lectins, and excessive linoleic acid – pure starchy carbs aren’t going to be a big problem. ” So it’s a back-handed compliment.

    If anybody read the Rice Diet by the Rosati’s, they’d see it is more than possible to keep the ‘vacuum’ within reason. Portion control is the biggest problem in America, second only to all the crap fillers put in non-real food.

    One who lost 10lbs on the Rice diet recently 😉

    Expand your minds and your readings folks!

    1. I think human variation allows people to thrive differently on differently foods. There isn’t a general diet that everyone should follow to be healthy (as far as percentage of fats, carbs, and protein). Being skinny doesn’t make you healthy, and being healthy doesn’t mean you’re skinny. I lost weight eating pretty much fat-free five years ago. Gained it all back and lost it and have kept it off doing high-fat and grain/sweetener free. Portion control does seem to be an issue, but then there is the satiety factor (leptin-resistance) that affect people different which is probably based on the crap in the diet (I think it’s pretty benign in the scheme of things). I doubt the “crap” would be linked to rice , but there is always a possibly.

  81. Rice was what I used when I gave myself a glucose tolerance test. I diagnosed myself with diabetes that morning my sugar rose to 282. I don’t think I could eat it again!

  82. I agree with Don’s original post, that white potatoes are probably a better choice. And, as Stephen recommends, should be peeled and not green or damaged. But I do enjoy rice one occasion. It’s probably been over a month since I’ve had rice, but I don’t look at it as such an evil doer like I view wheat. I wouldn’t pass up a bowl of rice to go with a coconut milk-laden curry like I would a slice of chocolate cake.

  83. Rice just isn’t that good to me, sort of bland. A rare “cheat” is Indian food a few times a year, when I’ll have some rice and naan.

  84. I eat sushi and bibimbap and other rice dishes on a regular basis. No problems whatsoever and my blood work is good. Maybe its because I’m chinese. Maybe. In the past, I got fat eating too much sugar, fast food, desserts and other processed foods

  85. In the real world of nutrition, things are never so simple that one could say x is bad and y is good. The dose makes the poison and health history is very important how nutrients/antinutrients are metabolized. That idea will not likely be accepted on this blog which seems like a cheering section. From personal experience it is possible to go too low on carbs (50gm/d in my case) and suffer joint pains. Constipation and cramps are also issues I have experienced (from going too low on carbs) but which are seldom mentioned. My case is of course anecdotal but not likely unique. It is dangerous to take advice without critical examination and careful experimentation. The takeaway on rice is do not eat too much; find out how much is too much by trial. Doing trials takes work.
    I expect to be flamed for these views but perhaps there is someone else who finds such views plausible.

    1. Morris, I agree. Especially in our modern food environment, moderation and variety is key.

      At any rate, most of what is being claimed about paleolithic (or hunter/gatherer) diets on this page is utter bollocks.

      I have never dropped my carb intake as low as you have, so I don’t know if I would react the same way, but I do find that I get very constipated on more than a tiny amount of beef. Not eager to get started on the steakhouse diet any time soon. 😀 I’m also flabbergasted at the suggestion here to replace whole grain starch sources with peeled white potatoes! Potatoes vary greatly in glycemic index, but I find that Russets, Idaho bakers and Idaho Golds, especially without skin, cause me to spike and crash like nothing else. (Even WITH the tablespoons of butter some posters have recommended.)

      Yes, some populations, such as Celts, a historically marginalized people, cannot easily digest wheat. The populations that can are among the healthiest and most successful in the world. (German, Dutch, Chinese…)

      One can make a similar argument with milk drinking… the Mongols were milk-drinkers who smashed up and terrorized most of the known world 😛

  86. Sushi and bibimbap were already my two favorite “I don’t care what you say I’m not giving ’em up” semi-cheat meals. And compared to the horrendous bloat of wheat, I always feel GOOD after I eat them (particularly after a good hard row). So, I’m ecstatic to no longer have to feel guilty when I do! Thanks for the thoughtful analysis Mark.

  87. I eat brown rice pretty much all the time. Mixed with some lentils, pumpkin seeds, ghee and mustard oil, it makes for a hell of a meal that will leave you full of both nutrients and well, food, for hours.

    Not primal, but then are primal diets really all that cool?

    1. Also, the above post suggests that perimenopausal women working 50-hour weeks don’t exist in Asia. Whoa.

      And, if the problem is eating rice in addition to a bunch of other crap, but eating rice with a healthy diet is fine, shouldn’t you just eliminate the other crap?

      The logical fallacies present on this site never cease to amaze me.

      1. You should read the post, Steve. Mark clearly states that the problem with the Asian diet lies in its recent adoption of vegetable oils and more sugary, processed foods. He is not blaming rice. His point is that while rice may be relatively benign with a well-functioning metabolism, adding wheat, fructose, and high omega 6 to a rice-based diet is problematic.

        1. Yeah, of course. But the article is titled How Bad is Rice Really?

          Is the point of the article actually that vegetable oils and sugary processed foods are bad for you? That one makes a lot of sense.

          The fallacy is that instead of saying, don’t eat sugary processed foods, the article is saying to avoid rice. That’s like saying that if you ate Paleo along with a bunch of sugary, processed foods, then paleo must be bad for you. It’s the exact same logic.

          So maybe the next article should be “How bad is Paleo, really?” And follow the exact same structure to determine that sugary, processed foods are bad for you.

          I just think the extreme views expressed on here can mislead a lot of people. I’m not saying Paleo is bad for you or anything like that, I understand the benefits that it can provide many people, but it is not at all the only way.

          Blogs like this should choose their battles, and mind their logic.

    2. i mixed (fermented) brown rice + coix & add a coconut oil or butter. sometimes i throw in some spices (curry powder, or cajun spices), and/or sausage or bacon. sometimes i also make stir fried rice w/ lot’s of meats, eggs & veggies (in lard).
      rice dishes are easy to make, quick & satisfying. (FYI: we’re not diabetes.)


  88. interesting, a lot of people who are critics of paleo/primal diets showing up around.

    that’s funny, that we have trolls. if at least they were dinos…

    1. Some of them are trolls. Some of them just disagree with the ideas this site presents. There’s a difference.

  89. Good post. Good information.

    My vote is that a little white rice occasionally is not the worst thing. Being willing to eat sushi or Thai gives me something that I can eat with friends without spending too many deviancy credits. It isn’t something I’d want to be doing even weekly, though.

  90. Give me a break. Check out the 12BX Formula. Mr. Reeves is older than Mark and has developed a much more impressive physique from pull ups and pushups. He eats Oatmeal every morning BTW.

    1. It’s funny to me, all the people sprouting up saying “of course rice (or xxx) is fine, look at me/this expert/this population.”

      The whole point here is finding what works FOR YOU, not what works for anyone else. I can eat white rice without any gastro effects or blood sugar issues, some people can’t. I don’t eat it often, mainly because it’s never been that appealing to me. Potatoes don’t pose any problems for me either, though I don’t eat them often (a few times a year).

      I can’t do cauliflower ‘rice’ at all, because too much cauliflower really irritates my gut. That doesn’t mean I’d say no-one should eat cauliflower, or that it is bad… it just isn’t great for me personally.

      So while it’s super fantastic awesome that so-and-so eats such-and-such every day and is in great shape, it has no bearing whatsoever on my body or my health, or on anyone else’s. If you want to come here and argue a point, have a sound one.

      1. Of course, eat what works for you. I wasn’t suggesting anything different, nor do I think Jaques was. The point is, all this primal hoopla is a little out of control. Some people thrive on having entirely different nutrient ratios than others, plain and simple.

        I would agree that white rice is very questionable due to its lack of nutrients and valuable fiber, but the second you start questioning brown rice, come on!

        Just eat good, whole foods and don’t eat things that make you feel like garbage.

        The fact that I react terribly to a Paleo diet may be a single example, but it is worth considering when you have a site like this that so fervently preaches about Paleo as being entirely superior. I get that is his line of business, but don’t start stepping on the toes of perfectly healthy foods.

        1. You might be reacting terribly to the particular flavor of paleo that you tried. Paleo is very wide ranging, you can eat very little meat in paleo, or very little carbs, or very high meat, or very high carb. It cannot be slotted into a single category. The only restrictions are no grains, no legumes, and no milk. But these are restrictions for only strict paleo. You can still apply the 80/20 rule to add these stuff to your diet and be primal.

          Which flavor did you try?

        2. <<don’t start stepping on the toes of perfectly healthy foods.

          That's my point… one person's perfectly healthy food is another person's weight gain/allergies/blood sugar nightmare/overall poor health food.

          I'd hazard a guess (and I may be wrong here) that many people who visit this site have problems with, say, glucose tolerance, gluten intolerance, etc etc and so forth. Many have a problem with weight (or did have) as well. This article speaks directly to the attitude, among the general low carb/paleo community, that rice is a no-no because it is a starchy carb/"new world" type food, and says that if you tolerate it fine (and aren't eating so much of it that it is displacing foods that contain more nutrients) then no big deal.

          Can't see how that's stepping on any toes?

        3. <<don’t start stepping on the toes of perfectly healthy foods.

          That's my point… one person's perfectly healthy food is another person's weight gain/allergies/blood sugar nightmare/overall poor health food. As you mentioned, you react terribly to a Paleo diet (though I'm not sure what that means, since there is no one 'paleo diet' per se)

          I'd hazard a guess (and I may be wrong here) that many people who visit this site have problems with, say, glucose tolerance, gluten intolerance, etc etc and so forth. Many have a problem with weight (or did have) as well. This article speaks directly to the attitude, among the general low carb/paleo community, that rice is a no-no because it is a starchy carb/"new world" type food, and says that if you tolerate it fine (and aren't eating so much of it that it is displacing foods that contain more nutrients) then no big deal.

          Can't see how that's stepping on any toes?

  91. Personally I stay away from rice. Being raised in a Cuban household we ate rice everyday, it’s a staple of our cultural diet. Unfortunately, I blow up like a puffer fish when I eat rice or any type of grain.

    I discovered low carb eating in 1995 and have followed the low carb/right carb/Primal eating lifestyle since then with great results.

    Maybe I’m engineered a certain way but I do very well on eating mostly beef,chicken, pork and some veggies, and an occasional apple here and there. Everyday in my gym I train along with my assistant approximately 50-60 people per day (we train groups) and you can tell who the Primal followers are.

    They tend to be the fittest and the top performers in our gym. My gym is officially an MDA follower and we recommend all our clients to buy The Primal Blue Print. Thanks mark for improving my life and that of my clients.

    Jorge Angulo
    Garage Gym, Miami, Fla

  92. Your posts ar always heavily commented on Mark but this is a topic we all want to read about!! Great in depth coverage.

    Personally I can go without rice and replace it on a plate with squash, sweet potata or green veg to soak up a sauce or stew and fill me up. That said, I think some people miss rice like they miss bread at first. The key is just to stick at it and then the craving will ease off.

    As for the economic argument, good rice isn’t that cheap. Why not go for a tin of green lentils instead?

  93. SO, that means that I can have Asian rice noodles/vermicelli then too? Yay!

  94. I dumped most grains out a while back (special occassions excepted), especially after doing a bread experiment and finding that wheat made me tired, achey and fat. However, last year I visited Korea and Japan and had no option but to eat rice in a lot of places. I actually felt great and went home the same weight, with a waist half an inch smaller.
    I don’t include rice regularly but I won’t turn my nose up either – I enjoy sushi and other asian foods on occassion.

  95. I eat rice now and then, but I’ve made it into a treat once or twice a month instead of having it as a regular side dish. If it’s sushi I’ll mix up rolls with sashimi and rice-less rolls. If it’s Chinese/Thai/etc. I add only about one tablespoon to the food. Tastes the same, so why have oodles when you can have a little? This approach seems to be working just fine for me. 🙂

  96. I have been trying to move myself and family toward a more Primal diet. Being in Japan we are surrounded by rice of course. I have made efforts to get organic, brown rice, thinking it is the healthier choice, but become more confused the more I read (see below). Getting kids to eat just protein and veggies is impossible, so it seems like rice is one of the lesser evils.

    Replacing White Rice With Brown Rice Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

  97. Raised in an asian household for my early years, I was fed a diet of rise with a side of sauteed beef and veggies or a soup made from pork broth, tamarind, and salmon. I was somewhat healthier back then. Unfortunately, my diet at the time also included the classic sugary snacks like gushers and lays potato chips. Some time ago, during the summer, I went back to my old rice and side dish diet but this time the only sugary snack I had was a smoothie. Not the best diet, but better than the canned foods and oven pizzas that I was on. I had lost 10 pounds that summer, with absolutely no exercise whatsoever. Mind you, the meal of rice was my only meal the entire day, but yet I didn’t feel hungry. Rice may lack any measurable nutritional value, but it is certainly a gut-stuffer when coupled with your usual plants and animals. With that said, if you found yourself stuck in a metropolitan asian city, or you eat rice as a comfort food. Don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s not that bad.

  98. I noticed years ago that white rice never gave the bloated, dizzy, tired, irritable -generally horrible – feelings that other carbs did. It’s damn convenient, since sushi has been a deep love of mine since I started eating solid foods.

    I’ll have it with sushi alone now, and while most of my meal will consist of sashimi and soup, the few nigiri pieces I have never lead to guilt. It also helps that I love it so much that I’ll take time to savor it; if I were eating wheat products, they’d probably be scarfed during a rushed breakfast or in front of the TV.

    The point, I suppose, is that context matters. 🙂

    Thank you for a great article on something I’ve been wondering about for a while.

  99. Wish I could post/share your articles on FB.
    You’re confirming everything I’ve been idependently studying lately about nutrition and the causes of obesity.

    Keep it up and thanks!

    Lisa Clibon

  100. Being of asian descent, I think my ancestors have evolved well enough to survive on rice for generations. I do know that eating white rice spikes my blood sugar, but that doesn’t go the same for brown rice. In fact, brown rice is the perfect neutralizer when I overdo veggies or overdo meat. I don’t adhere to keeping portions as much as I should, and I end up feeling bloated, lethargic, or still hungry. If you experience those effects, it’s a sign of an unbalanced meal. Thus, I cave to eating some brown rice restore my energy.

    There is a presoaked brand of rice I purchase that suggests further soaking on the package to detract more phytates. Soaking rice has been in my ancestral heritage for centuries to soften the grain, but it is only now scientists realize the extent of this method.

  101. I’ve read in Fiber Menace that white, polished, milled rice is the lowest in fiber, making it move through your bowels without effort and eliminating quickly.

    If I ever cheat with a grain on my primal diet it’s white polished rice, because of that fact.
    Some do tubers…I just do a handful (not even that much) of rice, and always boiled in bone broth, not plain water…so the minerals and saturated fat from the bone broth are left behind in the rice when done.

    Quick elimination is what’s important, too….you don’t want to literally sit on your grains for weeks =P

  102. Hi Mark and fellow Applers! Quick question re: vegetable oil, which was mentioned in one of the comments above: My very favorite snack in the whole world is Salt & Vinegar Almonds (manufactured by Blue Diamond), and on the canister it lists vegetable oil as one of the ingredients. Is this horrible, or do you think maybe the amount of vegetable oil required to get the salt and vinegar to stick to the nuts is negligible? Thank you for your help!

  103. Asians are generally very lean and rice is the basis of almost every meal. Have you ever been to an Asian country? They are only getting fat when they adopt western practices eg lots of meat and processed crap. Things are not as simple as the readers of this site would believe.

  104. I live in South China, and so I can say that avoiding rice, or even significantly decreasing consumption of it, is wholly impossible. Even if you went to lengths to eat a Primal diet, you would create a very real cultural rift between yourself and ANY Chinese people you interact with. In the Chinese language, the same word is used for rice and food. If a meal does not contain rice, then it is not considered a meal, but rather a snack (obvious exceptions exist if you’re going out for an exotic American or European meal). Moreover, convincing Chinese people that rice is in any way bad for you is many times more difficult than convincing an American that animal fat is actually good for you. To that extent, skipping rice or even just skimping on it can 1) be considered offensive or ignorant and 2) drastically increase personal food costs.

  105. What about shirataki noodles and rice (also known as Miracle Noodles and Miracle Rice)? They are derived from plant material, contain no nutrition and are pure insoluble fiber. Would this rice substitute fit into the primal plan when a starch substitute is needed, as in sushi? Anyone tried them?

  106. In this article, under the heading “the peril of categorization,” Mark says that rice isn’t bad for you because it’s a grain, it’s bad for you because it contains gluten — however, pretty much every source that I’ve checked says rice is gluten free. Can anyone weigh in on this?

  107. Does anyone know if the nutritional makeup of Japanese rice is distinctly different to others?

  108. Cool.. this guy tells me that everything I’ve ever been taught regarding food is wrong. Sooo what next? Water is bad? Fruits are bad? Vegetables are bad? Give me a fucking break..

  109. Almost all foods have some toxins to defend themselves. Leafy greens have alkaloids, grains and legumes lectins, nuts and seeds high omega 6 to 3 ratios, etc.

    Humans can become allergic to virtually any foods so my interpretation is that almost all foods may trigger silent inflammation. It seems that the only way of avoiding phytotoxins is IV nutrition.

    Would vaccinations, pesticides, dysbiosis, GMO’s, etc be a more important cause of food intolerance than eating grains?

    According to the bible, people did eat grains in the form of breads, and the universe is estimated to be 6000 years, not billions of years old. Evolution would contradict the scriptures. I understand that people would not believe this.

  110. I’m a Chinese American and my family eats white rice pretty much every night for dinner, a bowl per person. Usually we eat it along with meats, vegetables, and clear soups, and we’re all relatively healthy people, especially my parents. My brother and I are much more “Americanized” than my parents and I myself am not the leanest person, but I think it’s more from eating junk food and fast food when I was little rather than from rice. Most of my Asian friends are also pretty healthy too, despite daily rice consumption. I’m not sure if it might just be an Asian thing, but rice will likely be a part of my diet forever, at least until I live on my own. Great article, it would be interesting to see the effects of daily Asian-style rice consumption on non-Asians.

  111. I’m curious anyone’s thoughts on Rice Flour? I occasionally am in the mood for Bread and have found an Almond/Flour Bread, and from time to time fry some chicken after “Breading” in Rice Flour. It seems to slow down digestion, but other than that seems rather benign.

  112. Dear Mark,
    I am a lacto ovo vegetarian. If I go paleo my choice will be limited to eggs nuts and vegetables and roots. I am also hypo thyroidal and diabetic and ostheo arthritic. Are legumes bad also?please give me your suggestions. I followed South beach diet and lost a lot of weight and verybgood readings on my A1c, fasting sugar and triglycerides.

  113. mark love your comment that we dont live in anutritional vacum.this is the truest thing you have ever said .Over the years my hormones and medication for such things have made it more and more difficult to lose weight and certainly a lot more difficult than when i was 20 and trying to lose 10lbs to fit into a dress .i certainly ate rice and was able to lose weight then .but now NO way!
    im trying to get in to primal eating again for health reasons instaed of weight losslike befor(not that i would complain!)you are an inspirationas usaual.

  114. I totally admire your knowledge on all the “rice” products but I haved to admit myself that it is really hard to not “eat rice any other day based on all this knowledge I am the same age as you but I was raised very differently and in terms of food intake I am still struggling on what to eat or not to eat at this point in life. I am not saying you are wrong, I can see the results of your quest on changing your diet and way of eating habits but I will say it’s super hard to re-adopt such habits now and be on a healthy shape with out the basic monetary sources.Being unemployed does not help me to achieve a Primal Blueprint when I have to accept all the hand-me downs of other people’s pantries, of which some or all of them contain nothing but un-healthy grains and un-wanted cannery.(to which I should be grateful for none the less.Mark, Tell me How can I avoid all of this and be able to eat as healthy a meal as you do? Sincerely, your avid fan, Coral.

  115. For anyone who has just read this post and is running out to destroy some nigiri with rice, keep in mind that “sushi rice” is generally made with seasonings like rice vinegar and sugar. Commerical seasoned rice vinegar also contains sugar and sugar in general is used often, if minimally, in many Japanese dishes/sauces. So if you’re trying to be squeaky clean with your sugar consumption, order yourself some sashimi. Otherwise, don’t sweat it because the use of sugar is relatively small, especially compared to other cuisines like Thai and Vietnamese.

  116. Mark,

    If you could do a post on the Asian Paradox, it would be really appreciated.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading and adopting your approach to proper eating habits. However, I’m having a very difficult time reconciling that with the myriad of centenarians that I know on my parent’s side of the world who literally eat nothing but a lot of soy-based products (tofu, fermented soy, etc), fried fish (sesame oil), picked vegetables, and steamed rice.

    Even the ones who eat everything with their bowl of white rice three times a day, whether it be fried foods, deep fried vegetable fritters of some sort, grilled marinated meat, whatever, still live easily beyond 85.

    In trying to explain Grok’s lifestyle to my parents (who believe that my paleo diet is bogus), I’m continually stumped by their side of the argument which is based on the belief of what they have witnessed upon generations – lots of rice, kimchi, and whatever the heck else you want to eat. Most often Paleo unfriendly.


  117. Interesting, Bibi. I am following the Perfect Health Diet, which *stipulates* the consumption of “safe starches” (sweet potato, potato, taro, cassava and yes, white rice) every day to avoid stressing the liver by forcing it to supply all of the brain’s glucose requirement. Sound like what you might have been experiencing.

    On PHD, you are supposed to consume 200 calories of safe starch per day. I find that to be a bit much, but I have started regularly incorporating safe starch with no ill effect (just not quite that much).

    My main problem with white rice is that I find it so delicious, I have a hard time stopping eating it. But even a cup is too much for me, leaving my blood sugar high and me feeling overstuffed and lethargic. But 1/2 cup works fine. I just have to get it back into the fridge before I see it again! 🙂

  118. H! I’m a pescatarian (eats seafood and eggs) who is interested in the paleo diet. While cutting out grains/sugars seems to make sense (and makes my body happy), I’ve been having trouble wrapping my head around the rice and soy issue.

    I have been living in South Korea for 2 years and the people here generally eat at least 1 cup of rice or noodles (rice/buckwheat/flour) with every meal, as well as lots of tofu and miso. They are generally all skinny and strong. The only slightly chubby ones are those of the younger generation (usually under 35) who I suspect eat more of the western food that is becoming popular here, such as McDonalds, pasta, pizza, and bakery stuffs. I have seen about 5 seriously overweight Koreans in 2 years.

    The majority of the world eats rice daily, yet health problems are higher in the standard American/European diets. It seems to be that WHEAT and HFCS are the devils. Thoughts?

    On a side note, we have public bath houses here, and as a young western woman, I’m the only one with cellulite!

  119. well after discovering this site some weeks ago, i am pleased to figure out that the only time i ever eat rice, is pretty much the more acceptable occasion. i grew up on a small island, and ate fish regularly, with a small side of rice and some sort of veggies. when i started working in an office this changed, and my health changed with it. in the past few weeks i have gone back to what i used to eat as a child, and it is remarkably close to the PB methodology… and i feel better already.

  120. I love rice and eat it 2 times a day. I eat it with other starchy foods with potatoes and vegetables. No added sugar, no added sodium, I don’t kill my meat, fish, and I don’t milk cows so I don’t eat them. I lost a ton of weight and I jog 8 miles a day! I am also Asian and feel the article does not do a balanced point of view but alas, this is his view and his web site. Have fun and take care!

  121. Thanks for this!

    Went out for teppan steak today (medium rare sirloin, prawns, tons of veggies cooked in butter — just say “no sauce” and it is totally primal!)But I could not say no to the white rice smothered in steak sauce. First time I’ve had rice since I started prinal 5 weeks ago, and felt very guilty. Now I’m shrugging and saying, “meh, 80/20.”

    I can’t see wanting rice with anything but teppan steak sauce, so it will most likely be half a year before I have grains again.

  122. OMG!!!! I am allergic to wheat and gluten. it shuts me down and leaves me feeling horrible. for the last 2 months i have been following a diet recommended by a trainer that included lots of brown rice and oats. I have felt horrible. this morning when i read about rice and oats — talk about a lightbulb moment!!! I am getting this book and back on fruits, veggies and mean! THANK YOU!!!

  123. I am another kind of Asian paradox. I had gestational diabetes that didn’t go away after the birth. Now I can’t eat rice because it spikes my blood sugar terribly (+250). What is that about? Before all of this I was super-skinny, I had amazing glucose tolerance and could eat 10 bowls of rice if I felt like it with no ill effect.

    Apparently Asian-Americans have a genetic predisposition to Type 2 diabetes. How paradoxical is that, being a rice-eating people?

    I’ve had to give up all grains/sugar because of this, and my BMI has fallen to 17.6!

  124. I’ll be interested to see what Mark makes of the most recent post over at Evolvify, considering the study Andrew unpacks points out that rice (and potatoes) really aren’t such ‘safe’ starches after all…

    I was just getting on the starches bandwagon, enjoying old favourites like sushi and baked potatoes, but now I’ll be back-pedalling fast! I wonder whether the white starches were the root of my resumed fat gain, after things were starting to improve…

  125. HI

    I’m Chinese and the way we eat rice is very different from the West.

    Rice is a staple food and it’s the main meal. The meal is eaten with dishes – protein like meat, fish, seafood and vegetables, tofu.

    Chinese can’t go without rice or noodles. Noodles are eaten the same way… the bigger part of the meal with slices of meats and vegetables.

    My question is whether can a Chinese go on your program ?


  126. Great post, I’ve always wondered about rice. I am fairly active, and need a carb-load on some days where my activity level is high, and rice has rarely presented any negative effects or bloating for me, unlike wheat.

    I was interested in your thoughts on it, this post sums it up well.

  127. I am active and I am in a lack of money, so i am getting white rice back in my diet, like 1 bowl everyday.

    I think if i eat a lot of good carbs from vegetables, i would have enough vitamins and amino acids and stuff. Rice would just be an inexpensive complement.

    And i feel rice does not make me feel as bad as pasta and bread and oats.

  128. So I’m coming to the conclusion that eating rice within the context of correct “insulin sensitivity, regular activity, absence of metabolic deranging foods like fructose, lectins, and excessive linoleic acid” is not healthy, but also not unhealthy.

  129. Thought I’d experiment with eating white rice after not eating it for a primal 3 months and now I wish I didn’t! Most incredibly bad bloating…won’t be doing that again any time soon.

  130. Rice is perfectly fine to eat. Potatoes are perfectly fine to eat. The late great Jack Lalanne made this quote,” If mother nature didn’t make it, don’t eat it”.

    We need carbs. Can you imagine a marathon runner trying to run a race fueled by a big steak? He wouldnt make it to the end a lb of pasta pre-race is the fuel of choice by endurance athletes.

    Rice doesn’t make people fat be it brown or white. Asians eat small amounts of meat and large amounts of rice and they are pretty skinny as a whole.

    My advice is to eat natural. This means eating responsibly and not overeating. Use lard, butter instead of chemical fats like vegetable spreads, oils. Eat your grains, dairy, meat, veggies and fruits.

    The UK has it right when recommending those over 50 drink 4 shots of whisky every day for men 2 shots for women. There are true scientifically proven facts behind daily alcohol consumption in moderation and its significant health benefits.

    We all need to use common sense when we pick the foods we put in our mouths. There is no perfect diet for weight management or health. I eat about 3 cups of rice a day 7 days a week and i’m not overweight and in great health. I’ve been eating rice every day and drinking alcohol a few days a week for 35 years.

    One doctor says tomatoes are good for heart health and another says tomatoes cause cancer. Take everything with a grain of salt and use common sense at all times.

    1. Alcohol even in small amounts, much smaller that what you are suggesting, raises the risk of various cancers and also can lead to abuse. 4 shots of whiskey a day is insane. And are the recommending that? They are likely recommending one doesn’t exceed that because then you are in binge territory which can have devastating results. Most doctors that are not directly connected to the alcohol industry do not recommend any alcohol consumption.

      1. Here is an interesting article about levels of safe consumption of alcohol:

        Be careful of sites that promote alcohol use, of which there are a few online. If you look closer, you will find they have industry support or are a member of the industry.

        Coffee is another very toxic substance that deregulates blood sugar control, keeps stress hormones elevated leading to visceral fat accumulation and often contains pesticides and toxic products from its roasting.

        Everything in moderation including moderation… some things are just toxic.

  131. The problems with rice is that it is extremely constipating… easily the single most constipating food there is. There seems to be something uniquely constipating about it. And it is not an easily relieved constipation. I find that just one exposure constipates for a week, causing some mild back pain and depression. It doesn’t matter how many laxative foods I eat it with. Personally, I avoid it and fear accidental exposures to it when rice is used as an ingredient in other foods.

    1. interesting, i have not noticed rice being constipating.

      but then i always have it with of other stuff (meat, fish, veg. with plenty of fat).

      maybe that’s why my grandma & my mom fed me plain rice porridge + salt (+ egg) when i had diarrhea when i was a kid.

      Malissa McEwen is pro-rice due to IBS.


    2. I had a Chinese friend with the kind of IBS that causes constant diarrhea – all she could eat, every day for dinner, was barbecued pork and white rice. The constipating qualities were a blessing for her, I suppose.

  132. Just wanted to say ‘thanks!’ I have lupus, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure… somewhat of a mess. My mother had a stroke and my ex-husband developed diabetes.. So, as unhealthy as it is, I freaked, especially as many of my peers, have either had a stroke or ‘mild’ heart attack, or diabetes, as it is.

    So, I’ve lessened my one or two Pepsi a day, to having had two in a five day period. Haven’t had one today yet. I’ve slowly changed many eating habits over the years.

    Then, as we make rice every day – I realized that is yet another area of North American et al fav food items that need to be looked at.

    I was at the local supermarket, & wondered about brown rice… EXPENSIVE… Disappointed, I looked for a no-name bran, and saw parbroiled.

    A south east Asian fellow just turned into the aisle looking for rice, so asked him, “Can you tell me if parbroiled is healthier than white?” He said, “Oh yes, for sure!”

    so I bought it.

    and that’s what I’m eating right now. 🙂

    Smelling it cooking I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I do!

    I might buy a bag of bloody expensive brown, and mix a little in… 🙂

    Thanks for the awesome n detailed info.

  133. Grains, or extra carbs in general, were only necessary when we were farming large plots of land, building cities, raising barns, etc. Maybe construction workers still need to eat carbs (no, really–though you see how quickly it becomes an uncomfortable class issue, after all).

    The majority of us just don’t have to work so hard to live anymore, so of course grains and carbs would start to become a problem: they were only an *extra* calorie source to begin with.

    1. Gives a strange new meaning to “let them eat cake”, no?

      (Before anyone says anything, yes, I’m perfectly aware she never said that.)

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  135. Being an extremist in my younger years and having experimented with just about every diet out there, I have finally heard the wisdom that was trying to get through my thick skull for years – Life is short – The Middle Path works best!

  136. My wife is of Asian descent. Rice is a staple in her family and after I married her, rice became a part of our staples as well. In the past few years, I’ve severely cut down on it (she too, but eats far more than I do). I now get Basmati rice, which costs more, but seems to be less starchy and stick than other rice. Then, when we cook it, I add an almost equal measure of quinoa, about .5:1 of sliced almonds (organic, sliced almonds from Costco are inexpensive) and a few spoonfuls of organic milled flax seed. I eat about two cups (cooked, not raw) in a week, primarily with salmon or fish, sometimes with eggs. Other than sweet potatoes, this is about the only starch I get and it feels great after a workout of heavy lifting.

    I’m starting to look at other vegetable options to mix with the rice to cut down on the starch but maintain the volume and the blend of flavors we get from it.

  137. Well I was married to an asian, who got me to consume rice on a daily routine.But the way we ate rice was very little rice like six or seven large bites of rice to more veggie lots of veggies and little meat mostly chicken or duck. But even the meat was small serving. Basically the largest serving on the plate was assorted veggies. I was kind of lazy only from normal work was I active. And I had a little bit of a stomach not much. I still eat white rice today about 5 times a week, I love white rice just don’t go crazy keep your portions low and stay with assorted veggies to balance. So enjoy your rice don’t be afraid.

  138. Nah, animal fats and animal oils are very harmful. If you are rice intolerant, I would avoid it, but wild rice and brown rice are good as well as almost all vegetables and fruits. MEAT – POULTRY – FISH – and anything that used to walk swim hop crawl or slither are bad bad bad. Become a vegan and your fat and medical problems are gone. Stop giving rice and other good grains a bad rap because the FDA has you convinced. If you are following the food pyramid, shame on you. STOP DRINKING MILK IT’S FOR CALVES! Just eat every abundant growing food in moderation. Remember, too much of one thing is just TOO MUCH period!

  139. I eat it POST workout… it is the only NON-Paleo food I consume. It helps with spiking insulin post workout to build muscle and cut fat. I’m a believer in RICE!

    Thanks for this post! You are awesome!

  140. Thanks Mark! this post cleared up a lot of my confusion on rice. As an Asian, I grew up eating rice and love it. As I decided to go on this paleo diet, it was hard at first but it isnt so bad. And seeing how others have it one in awhile makes its seem okay to have rice, just not everyday. and with portion control. =)

  141. I eat white rice nearly every day. Being Vietnamese, it’s a staple. However, I also don’t eat meat except for fish, and I completely avoid gluten, dairy, sugar, and unfermented soy. I feel great with my current eating choices.

  142. I occasionally will have a 1/4 cup or so of white rice. Then again, I am the rebel- I will also -just occasionally- have the same amount of quinoa or amaranth. That’s where it stops.

  143. I wonder if possible that genetic and lifestyle habits affect the way a human body absorbs and digests rice? I’m of Korean descent. Rice consumption (at a large scale) has never been an issue for me, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts nor uncles. Seriously. There’s no fat people in our family (and there never will be!!!!!).

    Whereas my roommate, who is Irish descent, has a tough time eating half the rice I eat. He’s in great shape and eats moderately – and it’s like his body doesn’t want more than a small handful of cooked white rice at a time, while I eat double/triple his portions, and I’m still active and not obese… not in the best shape I’ve ever been in as I work out a bit less with my business and all, but still, I’m no fatty either.

  144. As for rice-heavy Asian diet …

    I used to live in South Korea until I was 11 years of age. (I moved to the US afterwards, in 1983.) Back then, our typical meal consisted of:

    A bowl of rice
    Veggie side dish — seasonal, ranging from spinach to fern shoots,
    Soup — usually Dwaenjangguk (fermented bean paste soup with dried anchovy as the basis of the soup stock) or Miyeokguk (sea vegetable soup with beef, chicken, or seafood as the basis of the soup stock),
    Fish or egg

    Compared to the life after moving to the US, the portions in Korea were smaller and the meal menu was less varied. Perhaps the most outstanding difference is the availability of snacks and other stuffs. It is not that kids and their parents were health-conscious; unless your family were pretty well-off, snacks and dining out were expensive. Another significant difference is the sheer amount of walking one had to do just to get from one place to another. I had to walk almost an hour just to go to school. Even to catch a bus, I had to walk at least 20 minutes to the nearest bus stop. Shopping? Not only we had to walk, ride bus, then more walking, but we could not shop more goods than whatever that we could physically carry.

    But since then, I think there are less difference between the US and Korea insofar as food is concerned, although serving portions are still smaller in Korea. But unlike in the past, fast food and snacks have become ubiquitous. As a parallel, there has been rise in the commercialization of food (it is now common to just buy Kimchi instead of making it yourself).

  145. This was seeming a good article till I read “they evolved that ability”. sigh

  146. This eased my worries. I eat a variety of vegetables and fruits according to mineral balance, often time from smoothies. Along with soups with they’d more veggies, I have good dose of meat (lots of fish). I also do strength training 4x a week. I’m 5’9″, 140 lbs, about 15% body fat. I want to Gain muacle. Would there it be a major health no no to eat rice or buckwheat noodles with 2 or 3 of my meals? I usuall have about 4-5. I’m not expecting you to answer this but it’s something i have been wondering as I just feel like I am missing something without it.

  147. Hi Mark,

    I didnt think rice had gluten?

    I have an aunt who has celiac and eats rice crackers, rice flour, etc.

    What am I missing here?

    – Dani (Dani<3Meat)

  148. I started eating rice again, I feel fine. Asians and other cultures have been eating it for centuries. As long as you are eating whole foods you’ll be fine for the most part. Just don’t eat bread and other processed foods etc.

  149. I eat white rice everyday, can be up to 130g dry weight. I struggle to gain weight and I lift weights regularly and am always trying to build more muscle. So I’m in the opposite situation as most people who go primal. I do it for health, not weight loss. And white rice is a good tool because I use it properly (simply for calories) in my situation. It’s nice to have at least a few carb sources for people like me (white rice and potato flesh) even if it’s not strictly paleo or primal. It’s so much easier to eat 3000+ calories a day when you can use a few hundred grams of safe carbs to do it.

  150. According to Harvard’s site list of 100+ common eaten foods in America , white rice has THE HIGHEST glycemic load of all foods including betty crocker vanilla cake, french bread, apple juice and even fruit roll ups which have a GI of 99. It looks like rice may be the exception to the high glycemic load foods are bad theory. Can anyone point me to some clarification?

  151. Mark,
    What about black rice? What do you know about it and is it really a “superfood”? It says it’s full of antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory.

  152. I’m getting tired of trying to compile all the bits an pieces of info about phytates, lectins, glycemic index, of grains and cereals.

    Is there a single reference somewhere that has a table showing all these foods and how they stack up, fermented, not fermented…. If I had that reference, I could make my own decisions about which carbs to eat and when, particularly to keep up my energy levels for strenuous exercise.

    By the way, I’ve noticed an anti-exercise bias in some of the Paleo community which I think indicates a lot of sedentary, overweight people with existing metabolic disorders. What’s good for them, might not be good for an active person of normal weight without a bunch of anti-immune issues.

    Finally what’s with the butter, dairy thing. OK in Primal, not OK in Paleo? And isn’t lacto-bacilli (yoghurt) supposed to be goodness?

  153. Hey Mark, what’s your thought on mixing white rice and animal protein (starch + animal protein)? It’s considered an improper food combo in some schools…

  154. I know this isn’t the most paleo opinion ever, but I am totally ok with white rice. Here in my house, we are two young, healthy, relatively active, and broke adults. Cheap white rice makes room in my budget for enough grassfed ground beef and and good oils and fruits and veggies and other healthy stuff. I do like to use it to pack some nutrition in us. For example, I’ll make homemade yellow rice out of homemade chicken stock and a bunch of tumerick, and those two things we could use more of in our diet! Or even coconut rice: rice cooked in canned coconut milk with a handful of shredded coconut tossed in. Now do we eat it every day? No.

  155. Rice when you’re rich? check out other options.
    Rice when you’re poor? Not so bad, really.
    I only eat rice when I run out of money. Pink rice with boiled egg and garden weeds. Also with some cod liver oil, sunflower oil or ghee. And maybe a piece of cheap cheese.
    eh, works for me.

  156. I eat rice my whole life. Recently, my friend and I had a bet. She insisted rice makes you fat and I told her no, its the overall refined diet that makes you fat. So she went on to skip rice but retain her lifestyle of eating meat,pizza, vege, desserts etc. On the other hand, I SKIPPED ALL BREAD, pasteries and sugar water. I never liked potato nor pumpkin so those are out too. However, I increase my steamed white rice from once a day to 3 times a day, accompanied by stirfry greens and chicken soup.. Guess what. After 3 months, I lost 3 kg while she only fluctuate between loss of 1kg+ but it keep bouncing back while mine stayed consistent at my optimal weight of 50.0kg for my height. SO PLEASE STOP smearing the good name of PLAIN white rice. Rice alone dont make you fat. It’s the rest of the food that goes along with it that made u fat.

  157. Good write up! I have always viewed rice as a filler. I understand that it is a staple in some parts of the world, I also know that a diet of white rice only has been proven as a recipie for Beriberi due to the lack of B1 (thiamin). i wasn’t aware of the Phytic acid problem.

  158. I think for some a little rice can be a life saver. Hardly anyone is allergic to it, it is safe for people w/ Celiac’s disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance, because it does not contain gliadin, the troubling gluten. And the type of gluten rice does contain, is less than 5% of the total of the protein content of (rice).

    I’m female, 44 years old, no kids, ectomorph, 5 ft 7 and about 105, and 13% fat. I don’t have hardly any body fat to burn through. I sometimes need those extra carbs, for energy. However, I think I am in the minority for most people, and in the extreme minority, for most women. But, rice, has saved me from feelings of lethargy and fatigue, many times. I mean, there is only so many carbs (energy), you can get from fruits and vegetables. And no, fat is not a good source of energy, as I’ve heard others say. It takes long to digest, and leads to sleepiness in many lean individuals, such as myself.

    So yes, white rice, is fine for the exception, but probably not the rule. Oh, and the arsenic, arsenic is found in most foods (organic in form), and for the (inorganic) found in rice, boil in a large quantity of water, then strain the rice through a strainer. The arsenic will be discarded with the cooking water. DO NOT BOIL/STEAM.

  159. Oh, thank goodness! I can forego all pasta and grains with ease, but not white rice… Beef and broccoli, or Halibut just wouldn’t be the same without white rice (in moderation, of course!)

  160. I’m late to this discussion by a few years, but when I started primal I cut carbs down to under 35g a day. Carb slashing works wonderfully for losing weight and I never even really felt bad doing it.

    Fast forward a year: I’m 40lbs. lighter and way, way more active (workout 6 days a week for 20 – 40 minutes switching between bodyweight and sprints) and haven’t been sick in over a year. I feel great.

    About 3 months ago I hit a weight plateau and at that point started adding more carbs again along with sprints. It’s a great combo and, quite frankly, I love white rice. I eat it a few times a week along with a steady diet of sweet potatoes when I finish a workout. That broke the plateau.

    Mind you, I think it had WAY less to do with carb changes and more to do with sprinting, but my point is that even when upping the carb consumption to 100 – 200g per day, coupled with working out I still feel wonderful and am still improving physically.

    Is rice great? Nah. It’s a filler food, but it’s a filler food that I’ve found I actually like a lot more now than I did before. Since getting to be thinner and healthier, I’ve relaxed how I eat and it doesn’t seem to have a negative impact. When I started I obsessed over things like rice’s anti-nutrients but a year later I’ve found the combination of good eating, sleeping, stress reduction and regular exercise make some rice every few meals a non-factor. Plus there’s the pleasure derived from eating good old Pad Thai, which I love.

  161. Hmmm…I think “white rice is pretty neutral” isn’t entirely true.

    1. All rice, including organic, is contaminated with arsenic. It used to be in something they sprayed on rice fields, and once in the soil, it lasts for decades (organic certification only goes back a few years).

    2. Just like we can’t say all grains (or all rice varieties) are the same, we can’t say all white rice is the same (or “pretty neutral”), because how it’s handled matters: turning it into puffed cereal or rice cakes seems to make it extremely toxic. In “Beating the Food Giants”, the rats fed the cereal box lived longer than the rats fed the puffed rice cereal…

    3. Whether good for us or not as food, grains are still hell on the environmental sustainability, political-economics, and corporate ownership scales. Almost all grains are grown in nature-killing monocultures, and are owned and controlled by BigFood (just as evil as Big Money, Big Pharma, BigChem, Big Oil).

  162. As an Filipino(Asian), I can never get away from rice. Almost all social events has an eating session and rice is always served.

    I accept the fact that I could never get away from it since having a no-rice diet would be very expensive in our country.

    My compromise is that I try to eat rice as little as possible(around 4 tablespoons max).

  163. White rice isn’t a staple for me because I can eat more nutritious foods instead. But I don’t feel guilty about having it once a month or so, factoring it into my carb intake for the day. Tonight, I baked a free-range chicken and roasted a bunch of veggies in the drippings, to which I added a few tablespoons of coconut cream for richness (and some red wine, yum). My salad dressing had olive oil. A half cup of rice soaked up these nice fats and rounded out my meal. I remained under 100 carb grams for the day.

    Dad is lean and can use the calories/carbs. Mom needs to lose weight but only eats a few bites with her meal. As for me, at 5’7 and now a very fit 122 pounds (down from 141) I’m giving myself permission to loosen up a bit now and then. Rice is a neutral food for me.

  164. For all my grains and beans I am experimenting with a practice I read about on the Weston A Price website. That is to soak in water up to around 60 degrees for a number of hours (I use keep warm function on a slow cooker). This temperature is optimal for activating the endogenous enzymes to break down anti-nutrients without killing them. After a while there are light bubbles and scum suggesting some kind of chemical reaction/release is taking place. I definitely think it has helped my bean preparation and now am experimenting with brown rice and raw oat groats.

  165. I have crohns disease and I can’t digest leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables, I’ve eliminated lactose from my diet as well as grains. So I’m left with asparagus and green beans for veggies as well as both white and sweet potatoes (I have a batch of chips on the dehydrator right now actually). So for lack of a better calorie source I had to start eating white rice almost every day with my organic grass-fed meats, but I add a bit of ghee and quite often feta cheese. I feel much better than I did while trying to stick to my limited veggie pool and no weight gain either (I am fairly active tho). Does my way of eating work for other people? Doubtful, but it works for me and I feel pretty good

  166. I really enjoyed this article. My husband is Filipino and I am (mostly) of German descent so we have different food backgrounds and I am always curious about rice and if we all “digest” it the same. I was intrigued by this link you put in your article
    “manifest as atopic dermatitis, eczema, gastrointestinal distress, or asthma.”
    Read more:
    but the link could not be found. Do you have a way of finding that article or a similar one for me to read?

  167. good post, tho the one thing i’d say… when you discuss the “westernization” of asian cuisine, you seem to lay out vegetable oils and sugar as the primary culprits for a decrease in “leanness” among asians. this is certainly true, but why blatantly leave out the fact that a “westernization” of food also ushers in a more carnivorous diet (made possible only by factory farming)? increased meat/animal product consumption among humans is also an immense catalyst for the degradation of overall health. I’m all for the gluten-free thing, but too many folks seem to choose between “one” or the “other” documented diet (“gluten-free” or “vegan,” etc.). let’s take all of the science into consideration and formulate a balance, rather than adopt a sort of religious identity predicated on specific ingredients.

  168. I have been eating more or less paleo/primal since end of May 2014. I have seen great results in blood work and appearance. Most people struggle with giving up pasta, breads and desserts, hence all the recipes for almond flour based pancakes, muffins, etc. I grew up in New Orleans and have lived in Texas for the past 30 years. For me, the hard thing to leave behind was beans and rice. Red Beans and Rice are a New Orleans staple and Monday tradition. In Texas it is Pinto Beans and Rice and my wife makes the best pinto beans ever. I have not had red beans and rice since beginning paleo and have succumbed to pintos and rice only twice. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Corn on the cob in summer is another. I have succumbed once to that. When I get my waistline down where I want it, I will be open to more rice and potatoes, but except for sushi, I avoid it as much as I can.

    I did find some potato chips cooked only in olive oil. That is my occasional cheat, but that is another story for another day.

    1. Lou,

      the people in the Blue Zones actually DO eat beans.
      Don’t go overboard with the fad lifestyle.
      Look at what people who live up to and beyond 100 years eat.
      It’s not Paleo.

  169. My family and I do eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and small amounts of rye and spelt. But we’re also doing “paleo light”, I guess. It’s hard to be 100% consistent when it involves kids, and I don’t think one should be. When they visit friends they eat whatever this family eats, anything else would be unhealthy for them, imo!

    Anyhow, I myself thrive on this diet. I’ve lost weight and feel healthy again 🙂 In our family white rice is a staple side dish.
    And mark’s website has helped me very much! I think people just need to find out what works for them…

  170. Well. Basically I think you’re a meathead. One need look no further than the Blue Zones of the world and see what they eat.It’s proven beyond question.
    Gluten. The newest “evil” for book sales and supplements.
    It’s an epidemic !! OMG. Gluten vaccines for all ! Natures Authority Gluten Blocker Plus w/organic buffalo testicles !
    Come to Silverman and Goldenfarbs Gluten Gataway weekend. Only $1999 single or $1440 PP/ double occupancy.
    Kosher available !

  171. I follow Deborah Madison’s lead in her cookbooks and put it ON things, rather than under things, as a sort of garnish. Like as the garnish on a soup: a tablespoon of cooked rice. Also, I occasionally put a tablespoon of raw white rice in a soup to thicken the whole pot.

  172. I wouldn’t start eating cups of rice again (for the carb content); however, I am considering making the odd dish using rice paper wraps. This would give me another tool for my menus, and one rice paper wrap is so light that it would contain stuff-all carbs. Also, accompanying it with fat will slow down the release of BS, AND the GL would be stuff-all as well. Thoughts?

  173. Been looking around for information on rice. Come across this article and found it helpful. Thanks. Also came across other useful information which may be helpful to readers of your article.


    1. CHINA 24.4%
    2. INDIA 15.3%
    3. USA 5.3%
    4. BRAZIL 2.8%
    5. INDONESIA 2.8%
    6. PAKISTAN 2.6%
    7. JAPAN 2.6%
    8. RUSSIA 2.5%
    9. EGYPT 2.00
    10.MEXICO 2.00


    1. CHINA
    2. INDIA
    5. VIETNAM
    8. MYANMAR
    9. JAPAN
    10. BRAZIL

    In the article on top rice consuming countries it states – No other country comes near to how much rice China consumes on an annual basis and more than half the population consumes rice daily in India.

    Food for thought…maybe not for eating though.

    1. Americans love to idealize eastern culture, even believing that their diets are superior. This is a good reality check.

    2. Yeah,
      Indonesians eat rice three times a day.
      And Japanese and most Chinese are not obese as a lot of Americans are .
      I think that Americans have bigger problems(eating lots of meatdonuts/sugar/cancer) than pointing out what’s wrong with rice.
      I think that rice is a great source of food.
      Many of the Japanese who live beyond 100 have eaten rice throughout their whole lives.
      Go figure that.
      The thing is, moderation.
      Eat your food in moderated amounts.

  174. everything is bad if you make it so. Just don’t eat a ton or past 6. Between lectins, nightshades and other no no’s there is nothing left to eat.

  175. Do you think if a natural supplement has organic rice concentrate as an ingredient this is a problem with the paleo diet?

  176. In India. rice is accompanied with protein – dal. chicken or even vegetables. It is a whole food. The 1st solid meal given to baby is always rice. I eat rice every night especially previous nights on my running days. It is magical and gives me great sleep and strength

  177. I started eating rice everyday snd i have lost weight. I eat it with veggies and some meat. No beef. I fill full and satisfied. I dont have diabetes or heart disease ir cancer.

  178. This is exactly the conclusion I have come to over decades of trial and error. I live in China, so rice is presented to me constantly. I find I can tolerate it occasionally, no more than once or twice a month. The only grain I can say that of.

  179. Dear Sir /madam
    Im shocked i had a allergy to brown rice..
    Theres nothing i ate ..except brown rice and meat..
    Two days i ate brown rice.
    Had the allergic reaction.
    Was awful.
    Thank you

  180. I always have to laugh when modern “doctors” and “nutritionists” try to tell equally uneducated consumers that foods consumed by the healthiest populations throughout human history are somehow bad for them. If they are misused, like alcohol very frequently is, then the misuse needs to be addressed. But claiming the foods themselves are bad is senile-level ridiculous, no matter which ones we’re talking about. If they had a significant impact, they would not be central to those who have lived long, healthy lives for centuries or even millennia.

  181. This is a great and helpful blog about rice unhealthy tips. I read your blog very carefully and find a helpful idea. Thanks

  182. Can you expand on how oats ‘dose you with gluten’? It’s my understanding they don’t naturally contain gluten?