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Friday, February 13, 2015

FOOD FOR THE WEEKEND: Should You Be Eating White Rice?

The Paleo Diet (click to learn more about the diet).  I am a big fan.  You eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and meat.  If you can find it in nature, you can eat it.  If it is man made, or has to be cooked or processed to eat, you stay away.  A seemingly simple approach to a healthy diet.

A few weeks ago we started a "Clean Eating Challenge" at CrossFit Syracuse.  We made the basic recommendation to include white rice if you are a person that is not concerned with weight loss but wants to improve performance.  The reason for this is white rice is a starch.  If you are a person with insulin sensitivity (which many overweight people have), then consuming white rice may hurt your weight loss efforts.  That being said, eating white rice does not have to be limited to just lean athletes.  It can be a part of a healthy weight loss diet if you eat it at the right times.

Rice, according to many paleo experts, is not "paleo".  Rice has to be cooked in order to be consumed.  So should you be eating rice?  What are the downsides of eating rice?  What are the benefits?

Brown Rice:
Brown rice is a food to avoid.  Brown rice contains phytates.  Phytates are anti-nutrients, which means they block the ability of certain vitamins and minerals to be absorbed by your body.  Brown rice has also been found to contain high levels of arsenic.  Please click here for more information on this subject. 

White Rice:
White rice is considered a safe starch, which means it is a starch with little to no negative qualities.  Starches are an important part of a good diet, but you must understand what starches do to your body.  When you consume a starchy food, your blood sugar elevates pretty quickly.  When blood sugar is elevated insulin is released from the pancreas.  Insulin is a hormone that basically tells your body to transport that blood sugar.  If you are at rest, this blood sugar is transported, or turned into, stored energy; aka fat!  If you consume a starchy food right after strenuous activity (a workout) this blood sugar is transported to muscles.

The best time to consume rice is right after a workout, with some protein.  The insulin response will get energy (sugars from the starchy rice) and amino acids (from the protein) to the muscles to help them recover.  Consuming rice at night may be the worst thing to do if you are trying to lose weight.  Consuming starch while in a rested state will result in a spike in blood sugar, which leads to the release of insulin, which leads to that blood sugar being stored as fat.

If your goal is to lose body fat, rice can still be a good part of your diet.  Just be sure to consume it right after a workout.

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