Is There Room For White Rice In The Paleo Diet?

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It’s not a secret that I eat white rice. Not a lot. Not very often. But I do.
In the paleo circles this is often met with a few raised eyebrows and a healthy debate. Is white rice ok to eat in small amounts? Why? And in what context? These are the questions I will try to answer in this post. I explain why white rice is actually pretty safe and why some individuals could tinker with including some white rice in their paleo diet.

Before I get into why I include some white rice in my diet and whether you should or shouldn’t, let’s recap why rice, and grains in general, are not part of the paleo diet.

There are three main reasons why grains are typically excluded from the paleo diet:

  1. Grains, especially refined grains, are high in carbohydrates. Over-consumption of carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance, various metabolic dysfunctions, and weight gain. I must point out, again, that the paleo diet is not about cutting out carbohydrates completely, but instead it focuses on moderate-to-lower consumption and on getting them from more nutrient dense sources like veggies and fruit.
  2. Grains, and legumes, contain a variety of toxins and gut irritants (also referred to as anti-nutrients) that can compromise the integrity of our gut lining and gut health in general (aka lectins), prevent certain nutrients from being absorbed by the body (aka phytates or phytic acid), and inhibit the production of certain enzymes that we need to digest the protein in the food we eat (aka trypsin inhibitors).
  3. On top of that, grains contain little nutrition when compared to meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and fruit.

So why do we see white rice appearing on the dinner plates of many paleo advocates, like myself?

Unlike brown rice, and I will explain this in more detail in just a second, white rice is actually the most benign grain of all. And although it lacks nutrients and is high in carbohydrates, it is a very accessible, affordable and convenient food. It can be safely eaten in small amounts in the context of other nutrient dense foods such as healthy fats, protein and vegetables, and when eaten by lean and active individuals.