Weight Management

Rice is an important element to any weight management plan. It is low in calories (there are only 100-115 calories per half cup serving) and brown rice is a whole grain and considered a source of fibre.

Nutrition and physical activity scientists and athletic coaches all agree that we eat too much of everything. However, when dieting, we often try to change our body weight via poor nutritional strategies including:

  • eliminating food groups (rice/breads/cereals, animal products)
  • drastically cutting nutrients (carbohydrates or fats)
  • restricting caloric intake below the daily requirement to support a sedentary lifestyle

Poor dieting habits can result in chronic fatigue, reduced motivation, staleness or a loss of interest in physical activities/sport, irritability, crankiness (with friends, family and training partners), poor endurance performance, increased risk of injury and compromised immune function. All of this can lead to inconsistent performance both on the job and in your personal life.

Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that carbohydrates, like rice, play a key role in mood1 by regulating the production of mood-elevating neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain2 . Serotonin is the brain chemical that regulates mood and controls appetite.

Meal Planning Suggestions

Planning your meals helps ensure you are getting the nutrients your body requires. The delicious and well-balanced rice recipes below will help you to stay focussed on your goal to maintain a healthy weight and mind:

With water, skim milk or vegetable juice.

Priority Checklist for Weight Management 

Priority #1 – Redefine your energy balance

To effectively manage your health and body composition it is important to know your daily caloric requirements specific to your level of physical activity. How much you need to eat depends upon your gender, prior nutritional status, heredity, age, body size, fat-free mass and physical activity level. Dietitians of Canada offer a great web resource, www.eatracker.ca; it can help you determine the number of servings from each food group that you require to meet your nutrient and calorie needs.

Priority #2 – Downsize your dishes, literally


A simple solution to healthy weight maintenance is to downsize your dishes. Smaller plates means less food consumed, leading to less calories in and a bottom line that encourages maintenance of a healthy weight. Including vegetables and fruit in rice-based dishes is satisfying and filling even when served as smaller portions using smaller plates and bowls.

So what is an appropriate serving size?

Here are our suggestions:
Dinner plate: 23 cm or less in diameter

Soup, cereal bowl: 250 mL volume
Drinking glass: 175 mL volume
Mug: 250 mL volume

Dessert bowl: 175 mL volume

Wine glass: 125 mL volume

Priority #3 – Include protein-rich foods at all snacks and meals

Rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates and protein, containing eight essential amino acids. Pair it with quality protein sources such as fish, egg whites, low-fat dairy products and lean cuts of poultry and red meats.

Vegetarian sources of protein such as tofu, chickpeas, lentils and garbanzo beans are also a great supplement to meat and complement the flavour of rice. Moroccan Chickpea Stew is ready in less than 25 minutes and the results are a flavourful dish that packs carbohydrates, protein and fibre. And do not be afraid to garnish your plate with nuts! Nuts are nutrient-dense bullets, rich in calories and unsaturated fats (primarily monounsaturated) and supply an important source of plant protein and dietary fibre. Protein-packed cashews provide added substance to Apple Pilau, an Indian-inspired dish fortified with U.S. basmati rice and apples.

Vegetables also complement any rice-based meal and are a low-calorie way to pack in essential nutrients. Include one cup of leafy green veggies (broccoli, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens) and a half cup of bright orange veggies (squash, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots) every day.

Written by the team of Registered Dietitians and Sport Nutrition Specialists of Peak Performance www.peakperformance.ca.

  1. Attenburrow M, Williams C, Odontiadis J, et al. The effect of a nutritional source of tryptophan on dieting-induced changes in brain 5 HT function. Psychol Med 2003:33:1381-86.
  2. Markus C, Panhuysen G, Tuiten A, et al. Does carbohydrate-rich, protein-poor food prevent a deterioration of mood and cognitive performance of stress-prone subjects when subjected to a stressful task? J Psychiatry Neurosci 1993: Nov: 18(5):235-44.
  3. Wurtman RJ and Wurtman JJ. Brain serotonin, carbohydrate-craving, obesity and depression. Obesity Research 1995: 3; 477-480.