Is Brown Rice Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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This is one of the most popular diet foods. It's versatile, easy to make, and budget-friendly. While it has several health benefits, it is also a source of carbs, which means that people following a ketogenic approach need to be careful. 

Even though this grain is not often recommended for low-carb programs, if you are careful with the portion size, you might find some room for it in your meal plan. 

In this article, we’ll talk about all you need to know when considering brown rice on keto. How many carbohydrates does it have? How much can you eat on a keto diet? What are the health benefits? And finally, what are other keto-friendly alternatives for you to have?

Let’s dig into this interesting topic! 


What is the brown type of rice? 

This food is a staple that we’ve found on dining room tables going back several thousands of years. It has been used in more than 100 cultures in different savory and sweet dishes. 

Rice is the seed of the Oryza sativa plant. The brown type contains the germ and the bran layer that encases the grain, while white rice has had this outer layer removed. It comes in several different grains, short, medium, and long. 

Thanks to keeping its outer layer, brown has a higher nutrient and fiber content than white. Additionally, it has a nuttier and rich flavor. 

This grain is considered to be minimally processed. This means that it is a good type of carb that contains fiber, meaning it won’t spike your insulin levels as much as white. 


Brown rice nutrition facts

This food contains a fair amount of carbs, which can serve as a great energy source. However, it might mean the end of the ketosis state for someone on a ketogenic diet if you are not careful. 

So, how many carbohydrates are in a cup of cooked brown rice? 

Serving size: 1 cup cooked

  • Calories: 248
  • Fat: 2.0 g
  • Net carbs: 48.5 g
  • Total carbs: 51.7 g
  • Fiber: 3.2 g
  • Protein: 5.5 g

As you can see, this food is very high in carbohydrates. However, it has a good fiber content, which brings down the net carbohydrates count. Compared to white rice, brown has almost double the amount of fiber. 

For someone on a keto diet, having 48 g of net carbs is usually too much for one meal, especially for those trying to stay below 50 g throughout the day. 

This grain is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals like manganese, selenium, and magnesium.




Can you eat brown rice on keto?

While most people would tell you that this rice is not keto-friendly (and they are right!), it is possible to incorporate this grain into a low-carb diet as long as you are careful with the serving size. 

So while you won’t be using it as a base for a Buddha bowl, you may be able to sprinkle a small bit over a salad or add to stuffed peppers. 

But since just 1 cup of this food will give you almost 50 grams of net carbs, as a general rule you may want to avoid having it. This can help you prevent overeating and consuming more carbs than you had planned. 


How much can you have on a keto diet?

The serving size depends on your carb intake for the day. 

For example, if you are staying below 50 g of net carbohydrates per day, a good portion size of this food could be 2 tablespoons (⅛ of a cup). This would give you 6 g of net carbohydrates. 

Keep in mind that you need to measure and deduct how many carbs you have from your total daily macro requirements. This is to ensure that you won’t surpass your target and accidentally get yourself out of ketosis. 


What kinds can you have on keto? 

You can consume any type (short, medium, or long-grain) as long as you measure it properly. There are other forms of this tasty food that you might want to consider:

  • Syrup. This is not a recommended option for those on a ketogenic diet. It is very high in simple sugars and low in fiber. This food can easily get you out of ketosis. 
  • Pasta. Some pasta is made with this grain instead of typical wheat flour pasta. Like any other high-carb option, it may be possible to include a small amount as long as you measure the serving size and keep track of your daily carb content. 
  • Flour. It might not be the best choice for those on a ketogenic diet. It is high in carbs and can make it easy to overeat. If you are looking for low-carb baking flours, you might want to try almond or coconut flour. 
  • Rice cakes. The puffed brown grains can make a nice crunchy snack. However, just one of these has almost 7 grams of net carbs, so you need to be careful with the portion size. 




What can you eat it with?

Since it is a high-carb food, it’s necessary to pair it with a food that is low in carbs. 

For example, you can add some to your favorite salad. This way, you have non-starchy veggies that increase the meal's fiber content, have it with some chicken or fish to increase the protein, and add some olive oil to increase the healthy fats. 

You can also mix it up with a keto-friendly alternative like cauliflower rice. This will add some texture and nutrients. 

One of the most common reasons why people don’t include this food is its bland flavor. To make it taste better, add several spices before cooking it.

One of my favorite ways to have it is to saute it with onion, garlic, ginger, and olive oil. Then add the water to cook it. I can assure you that you will love this way of making this or any other grain. 


Keto-friendly brown rice alternatives

For many people on a ketogenic diet, the carb content in this food is too much and not worth it. Here are some more keto-friendly alternatives for you to try. 

  • Cauliflower or broccoli. Both of these are great options if you want to create a bowl and have a replacement for this grain as a base. They are both low-carb and high fiber options.
  • Butternut squash rice. This option is still a little bit high on carbs (14.9 net carbs per 1 cup cooked squash). You still need to be careful and measure the serving size to ensure you do not have more carbs than you need. 
  • Rutabaga. While this root vegetable has a similar texture to potatoes, it doesn’t contain as many carbs. This makes it a great option for those on a keto diet. 


FAQ about brown rice on a keto diet

Are you still having more questions regarding this food? Here are the most frequently asked questions related to this tasty carb and a ketogenic diet. 

Thanks to fiber, yes, it has anti-inflammatory properties. Fiber also helps with stool formation and bulk, meaning it makes going to the bathroom a little easier.

The naturally occurring phytates in this food can make it harder to digest. Soaking the grain in water overnight or for at least a few hours before rinsing and cooking can make it easier to digest.

Like in a ketogenic diet, you still need to be careful about portion size. A high rice intake can increase your blood glucose levels, and since your insulin is not working properly, if you have too much you might have high blood sugar levels. 

To prevent this from happening, make sure to have it along with non-starchy veggies (which adds fiber), healthy fat, and protein. These take longer to digest, and this helps to slow down the absorption of sugar from the rice when eaten in the same meal. 

If you are careful with the portion size, it can be good for weight loss. 

If you eat too much, you can consume more calories than your body needs, which creates a caloric surplus, leading to weight gain. 

Yes, it can help you achieve a caloric surplus and provide you with carbs to replenish your glycogen stores. This means that it can replace the energy lost after training and allow the protein you consume to be used for muscle building. 

Yes, like any other food, it can go bad. 
It can get moldy if you leave it too long in the fridge. Fresh can remain in the fridge for 3-7 days without going bad. To preserve it more, you can always place it in the freezer, where it can last 1-3 months. 


Other grains to consider for keto