Should I Eat White Rice?

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Ever since the low-carb movement, carb’s have been banished from every dieter’s kitchen.

People have claimed that carb’s are not needed for any essential functions of the body. And ifehilst that statement is 100% true, it’s one that needs to be reviewed, especially if you’re training hard and you’re already lean. (Under 12% for men and under 20% for women).

 

The statement that carbs are unnecessary is true for sedentary people, and comes from the fact that for hundreds of years, certain cultures have managed to live and thrive without any carbohydrate intake.

 

You don’t see a lot of fruit or much wheat growing in the Sahara dessert or the middle of the North Pole now, do you? Yet native tribesmen and Eskimo’s have survived and thrived on their intake of animal protein and fats.

 

Eskimo’s would live on seal fat and meat, and their key markers of health (such as cardio vascular disease, blood pressure etc.) are better than the average Joe today.

 

So it would be easy to assume if Eskimo’s can do it and survive, and if carbs make me FAT, then I can drop them completely for a lean body, right? And this is true – to an extent.

 

Which brings me to the Paleo Diet.

 

The Paleo diet has exploded over the last few years. Led by some very intelligent and influential people – such as Rob Wolff – the Paleo crowd believes that we only need to consume healthy fats, protein and green leafy vegetables to lose body fat and improve health.

 

And for absolute beginners and those who have abused their bodies with croissants and cereals, it’s brilliant.

 

What I like about Paleo is its simplicity.

 

I can easily explain to somebody in few words on how to follow Paleo: “Just Eat Real Food.”

 

That’s it. JERF.

 

So if somebody is weighing up between two food choices, simply apply think JERF and you’ll be fine.

 

So if you had to choose between…

 

A muesli bar or a handful of nuts? Choose the nuts.

A bowl cereal or a boiled egg? Go for the egg.

 

If a client has poor health indicators (poor insulin sensitivity, over-fat, and has a history of less than ideal food choices), then a Paleo-type diet is just what the doctor ordered.

 

This person’s body is in a disease-like state. Sadly, they may have permanently ruined their insulin sensitivity (ability to handle carbs) and may never have the need to add carbs into their diet.

So it works wonders for beginners on a fat loss program who have abused their body with sugary carbs and a lack of movement. It even works well for intermediate level athletes.

 

My problem with the Paleo diet is when somebody needs more performance.

 

Obviously if the Paleo diet is suitable to somebody in a disease-state, or intermediate level athletes, then you will need some adjustments to take it to the next level. If somebody is looking to gain freakish strength, compete in sports, build arms like Arnie, or get lean, then they are going to need some modifications.

 

That’s common sense, yet is something that is grossly overlooked within the fitness industry.

 

Let’s take a client who has good insulin resistance, is around 15% body fat, and chooses good food with most meals. Because they have low inflammation (proof from their good insulin sensitivity and low levels of body fat), they’re going to need more than spinach and broccoli to get the job done.

Enter, Carbohydrates

woman eating sushi

At a certain point in most peoples’ training, they are going to hit a wall when following a strict Paleo diet.

 

Lets take a step back to allow us to move forward. The purpose of consuming any carbohydrates at all is three-fold:

 

  1. To trigger a muscle-building environment, which will offset the stress brought on by training. This includes hormone production, and sleep quality (Very low-carb dieters often suffer from insomnia)
  2. To fuel anaerobic activity, such as sprinting or hard core weight lifting.
  3. To restock carb stores for the next workout, which have been depleted through intense training.

 

The moral of the story is that carb’s ARE necessary to support anaerobic activity, but only IF you display good biomarkers of health and you exercise at a high intensity.

 

Somebody training only a few times per week, at a very low intensity, can easily replace their muscle glycogen through green leafy vegetables, and maintain high energy.

 

You have to EARN your carbs. More exercise + less body fat = higher carb intake.

Paleo and Carb Intake

 

So now that we know some carb’s are necessary for exercisers, let’s look at carb sources.

 

The Paleo crowd steer clear of all grains due to the inflammatory response.

 

And it makes sense – those nasty little grain critters can wreak havoc on your body via gluten, which is is found in all grains.

 

I’ve seen first hand just how straight up nasty these things can be. I’ve witnessed people close to me suffer through undiagnosed Celiac disease for many months and battled chronic fatigue, leaky gut issues and extreme frustration with a lack of general health and vitality.

 

Granted, not everybody will experience such severe symptoms.

 

However every client I’ve worked with claims they feel, perform and recover substantially better once gluten has been removed.

 

The reason is that these grains contain gut irritants that act as their protective mechanisms. Unlike animals, plants can’t fight back, however they are under just as much pressure for survival as any other organism.

 

The way that they can legitimately fight back is through chemical warfare; defences that cause the animal eating them to suffer digestive pain, in a bid they won’t return to the same source for tomorrow’s dinner.

 

One of those nasty chemicals is lectin (not to be confused with the hormone leptin, which I talk about during cheat meals), which is found in all grains. Gluten is one type of lectin, and can disrupt digestion, contribute to leaky gut syndrome, and effect brain functioning.

 

Another reason why grains are harmful is due to phytic acid. Found in nuts and grains, phytic acid is one compound humans can’t digest.

 

Basically the phytic acid binds to the minerals in the food, which then prevent absorption. And it’s not what you eat that counts; it’s what you digest. So this phytic acid blocks other vital nutrients being absorbed, basically rendering the entire meal useless.

Carb Sources

 

If all grains are out due to the gut irritants, but you are in need of some form of carbohydrate to support your anaerobic activity, what else is left?

 

Rice. That’s what.

 

Although technically a grain, it’s considered to be on the opposite end of the “how much will this mess my body up?” scale compared to the rest of grains.

 

Rice works for most people. Even those with super sensitive digestive systems claim to have some tolerance to it, especially post workout. It’s one of the modifications I would make to the Paleo diet to support intense training.

 

Hard core Paleo devotees want to steer clear of rice like it’s the plague. Many of them have never experimented with rice at all. This issue – blindly following advice – is one of the main issues with the fitness industry, and trainers need to revisit the issue of trying to force everybody onto the same, cookie-cutter meal plan.

 

So my Paleo pals are anti-rice despite the fact for many cultures – some of which display near perfect health and very low obesity rates – have used rice as a staple for centuries.

 

If you’ve ever visited parts of Asia or Indo-China where the locals eat 80% rice, it’s obvious that rice doesn’t lead to fat gain.

 

Sure, portion size can attribute to fat gain, but with rice accounting for more than 20% of total global calories, it’s not the only nor the main contributor.

 

I know you have been told to eat brown rice, due to the higher fibre content and greater all round health. Well, that advice my friend’s is wrong.

 

This damn fitness industry… Changing its advice every year!

It is true that the knowledge we share today seems to contradict previous topics. However I’d rather bring you what’s right, rather than what’s been told the previous ten years.

 

Brown rice is similar to most other grains in that it contains phytic acid, the critter I introduced you to earlier that causes more irritation than the Kardashian sisters.

 

When you remove the bran from the brown rice, you are left with white rice. The good news is all of the inflammatory toxins, including the phytic acid, are stored in the bran. Meaning you are left with a cleaner, less-toxic source of carbohydrate compared to brown rice.

 

Yes, you will miss out on fibre (about 2g less per 100g compared to brown rice) but the sole source of your fibre should NOT be from grains. Rather it should be from green, cruciferous veggies.

 

It’s extremely rare somebody will have rice on it’s own –usually it’s accompanied by vegetables and meat, so the fibre claim is grossly overused.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

There are many who will disagree with what I’ve said here – namely those who adhere to Paleo with cult-like discipline and are not open to suggestions or improvements.

 

However hopefully this represents a strong case to include rice – and to make it white –when looking to get shredded, compete in a high level, or take your training to the next level.

 

Does this give you a reason to hit the Chinese buffet and eat unlimited rice. Of course not. The formula for carbohydrate intake in general will always be simple: less body fat, better health, and more exercise = greater need for carb’s.

 

Give white rice a try