Eat More White Rice, Stay Lean
White rice has a lot of things going for it. Nutritionally savvy people prefer it to brown rice because brown rice contains phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of important minerals and makes it more difficult to digest proteins and starches.
White rice is also free from a lot of nutritional entanglements you get with other carbs. It doesn't cause gastrointestinal stress or food allergies and lifters love it as part of a post-workout meal because it facilitates recovery.
It's also inexpensive, and its tiny grains make it the most physically adapted to mixing with hunks of chicken, beef, pork, or fish. The trouble is, most people have no restraint when it comes to rice. They shovel out a portion size as big as a rice-picker's head and when their definition starts to blur, they don't take the blame; they lay it on the grain.
There is a simple way, though, to cut the calories in a portion of rice by up to 50% so that you can fill up on this valuable carb without putting on pounds.
Changing the Molecular Structure of Rice
Sudhair James, an undergraduate at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka, and his mentor, Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, were worried about rising obesity rates in Asia. That part of the world eats about 90% of all rice, and while it's a great food for athletes, all those carb calories aren't so good for regular, sedentary people, especially when it's their staple food.
James and his mentor figured that if they could somehow reduce the calories in rice, they could make a huge impact in worldwide obesity rates. Their solution was remarkably easy and it involved changing the molecular structure of rice.
What They Did
- Boil water.
- Add one teaspoon of coconut oil.
- Add 1 cup of rice.
- Cook rice for approximately 20 minutes.
- Let rice cool in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
- Reheat and serve.
It's remarkably simple. By boiling the rice in water mixed with coconut oil, you change the architecture of the rice, turning it into a "resistant starch," where two polysaccharides, amylose and amylopectin, connect to form indigestible bridges.
Chilling the rice for 12 hours leads to further conversion of starches. The result is a food with far fewer calories.
A Few Additional Thoughts
- The amount of oil James used was 3% of the weight of the rice. A cup of uncooked rice weighs about 175 grams, so you need to use about 5 grams of coconut oil per cup, which is about a teaspoon.
- James used coconut oil because it's the most widely available oil in his part of the world. He's open to the possibility that other oils would work equally well.
- James experimented on 38 varieties of rice. The least "healthful" resulted in a 10-12 percent reduction of calories, but they hope that "resistant" Suduru Samba, a rice indigenous to Sri Lanka, along with other "better" kinds of rice, will prove to have 50 to 60% fewer calories.
- Ferdman, Roberto, "Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts calories," The Washington Post, March 25th, 2015