Is Rice Paleo?

Since starting with the Paleo Diet, it has been easy to get off wheat and stay on-course with the diet. I love eating meat of every kind so that helps. However, one question has burned in the back of my head all along. The diet discourages you from eating rice! Read on and we will explore more about if rice is safe to eat…

The Desi Problem

Being Indian, if I am not eating rotis or rice, what do I eat my food in?  – that was the first thought that came to my mind. I started changing the way I cooked to the more western style of cooking – this meant more quantities of meat and veggies and less curries. The curries were used more as a sauce topping to the meat and veggies.

The Research

However, I soon started cheating by making larger quantities of curries and having them with rice. I had to find out if it was safe to have rice or not, so here is what I have learnt so far:

Basmati/ Jasmine RiceAccording to Mark Sisson, these variety of rice have very little minerals and more carbs in them. In his words:

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 meagre, 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.

Brown/ Unpolished Rice – This seems to be the better choice according to Mark Sisson. Brown rice is thankfully available in India, not in the supermarkets (I haven’t found it there yet. So if you do, let me know in the comments below) but at the kiraana store near your house. Here is its nutrient profile:

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 anti-nutrients. If you toss the liquid, won’t you be tossing the nutrients, too?

Going by his above quote, it makes sense to cook the rice by following the Absorption Method. I will try the fermentation method soon and tell you how that goes.

If you can get your hands on Parboiled rice, i.e. the intact rice seed – husk, bran, and all, use that. Its apparently the best rice variety out there since it is unprocessed and if cooked with the husk and bran can provide the best source of micronutrients.

The Solution

Personally, I’ll stick to eating brown rice and just live with reduced quantities. When I feel the urge to eat a good portion of rice, I’ll cook and eat it. The quantities will just be lesser. That’s all.

Here are some more links that I found interesting during my research for this post:

What is your take on this? Do you think rice is OK for you? Or have you devised an alternative? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Hi!

    I’m yet to tread Paleo wagon but from what I have read, you can get a max of 100-150 gm of carbs per day only if you are working out pretty hard as an athlete. Mark Sisson also has a graph showing carb requirement based on your fitness level/goal, you can check…

  2. Okay, so an alternative to rice which many other paleo food bloggers use is cauliflower!! 😀 just search up “how to make cauliflower rice”. Its super easy and it gives you that feeling that you’re actually eating rice.

  3. Oh yeah by the way you’re not suppose to eat rice at all during the paleo diet. Unless its a cheat day, then you could eat whatever the hell you want

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