Brown Rice on the Keto Diet: Does This “Healthy” Grain Pass the Low-Carb Test?


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A bowl of steaming rice accompanied with the right mains is the comfort food for many. However, during keto, it is natural to fear that rice is something you have to abandon.

Keto is essentially a low-carb diet, which limits your carbohydrate allowance to around 20 grams per day. Seemingly, grains and legumes don’t get an invite to the keto table, but what about loopholes leading with the word “brown”?

Brown rice is the healthier cousin of white rice, so that should make a difference. Right? Let’s cut to the chase and discover the truth –  is brown rice keto-friendly?

Is Brown Rice Keto Friendly?

Brown Rice

Serving Size: 1 cup (202 g)

Not Keto

Net Carbs








Is Brown Rice Keto Friendly?

The keto diet is often recommended for weight loss. It’s a low-carb diet that focuses on eating fats, a moderate amount of protein, and a few carbs. The aim is to keep your body in ketosis, which burns fat for energy instead of carbs.

But not all foods are keto-approved. Let’s take brown rice as an example. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup of cooked brown rice contains 44.42g total carbohydrates, including 3.5g fiber and 0.68g sugars.

This gives us a net carb count (total carbs minus fiber) of around 40.92g per serving – well above the recommended limit of just 20g net carbs per day for the keto diet.

These numbers make brown rice far from keto-friendly, despite its other nutrients like magnesium, and is a good source of protein.

Brown rice falls into legumes and grains, much like lentils or whole-grain quinoa – heavily restricted in a keto diet due to their high carbohydrate content.

These complex carbohydrates significantly impact your blood sugar levels and insulin response, which could hinder weight loss efforts and diabetes management by taking you out of ketosis.

Foods with lower glycemic index are preferred when following the keto lifestyle because they elicit less impact on blood sugar level – think fewer spikes and crashes throughout the day!

If you’re committed to low-carb or ketogenic eating patterns, consider swapping out higher-carb foods like brown rice with nutrient-dense choices that align better with your daily carb count restrictions.

Pros Of Eating Brown Rice On The Keto Diet

  • Rich in fiber: Brown rice contains a decent amount of fiber which can help promote fullness and aid digestion.
  • Low in sugars: Compared to other grains, brown rice has lower sugar content which is beneficial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
  • Packed with nutrients: Despite being rich in carbs, brown rice is packed with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for overall health.
  • Can be part of a carb-cycling keto diet: Although it’s high in net carbs, brown rice can be incorporated on higher-carb days as part of a carb-cycling regimen within the context of a keto diet.
  • Moderate protein source: It provides some protein that can contribute to a ketogenic diet’s daily protein requirements

Cons Of Eating Brown Rice On The Keto Diet

  • Brown rice is high in carbohydrates, with one cup containing approximately 40.92g of net carbs. This greatly exceeds the recommended daily limit for a ketogenic diet.
  • Regular consumption of brown rice can potentially kick you out of ketosis, making it harder to reach your weight loss goals.
  • Eating brown rice can lead to cravings for other high-carb foods, further hindering your progress on the keto diet.
  • Although brown rice is rich in fiber and essential nutrients, these can be obtained from more keto-friendly sources such as leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables.
  • Choosing brown rice over low-carb food options can limit your meal choices on a ketogenic diet.

Benefits Of Eating Brown Rice

What stands out in this carb count is the dietary fiber – approximately 3.5g per serving! Dietary fiber is essential for digestion rate control and diabetes management by helping maintain a steady blood sugar level.

However, things get tricky when it comes to the Atkins or keto diet. As Keri Glassman, a renowned dietician, suggests that people on a keto diet typically eat less than 20g net carbs (carbs minus fiber) daily to achieve ketosis – the state where your body burns fats for energy instead of carbs.

  • Brown rice, though whole grain, doesn’t quite fit into such restrictions, with its net carbs amounting to around 40.92g per cup.
  • However, there’s no denying that brown rice boasts several health benefits making it an excellent choice outside of low-carb diets.

Brown rice is packed with complex carbohydrates that provide steady energy release, unlike simple sugars triggering insulin response spikes. Plus, its glycemic index is lower compared to white rice!

Moreover, brown rice contains magnesium which supports nerve function and keeps your heart healthy, while the trace amounts of fats contribute minimally to overall caloric intake.

Alternatives To Brown Rice On The Keto Diet

1. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is a fantastic keto-friendly alternative to brown rice. One cup contains only 5 net carbs and substantial fiber, aiding in weight loss while maintaining ketosis.

2. Shirataki Rice

Shirataki rice is another excellent low-carb alternative. This food contains less than 1g of net carbs per serving, making it easier to stay within your macronutrient ratio on the Atkins or Keto diet.

3. Broccoli Rice

We suggest broccoli rice for those following the keto diet. It’s packed with nutrients and provides just 10 net carbs per cup, much lower than brown rice.


So, is brown rice keto-friendly? No. Is brown rice low-carb grain? Again, No.

Brown rice undoubtedly has several health benefits, but unfortunately, it does not fit in with the ketogenic lifestyle.

Brown rice is a rich source of dietary fiber, which is vital for digestive functions during ketosis. However, the high carb content makes it incompatible with the diet, as it can kick the body out of ketosis.

Does brown rice have more calories than white rice? Brown rice is actually way better than white rice in terms of nutritional value. It is slightly lower in carbs and contains much fewer calories. While this makes it a feasible option for many weight loss regimes, keto isn’t one of them.

Even though white rice and brown rice cannot be added to a ketogenic meal plan, there are a few substitutes you may consider. Cauliflower rice, shirataki rice, and broccoli rice are a few keto-approved alternatives that provide a similar taste and texture.

Finally, yet importantly, you can introduce brown rice into your diet by opting for carb cycling instead of standard keto. Carb cycling offers high-carb days, which allows you to eat sweet and starchy foods from time to time.