Is Rice Paleo?

Short answer: no. Rice is not paleo.


All forms of rice are not considered paleo because it is a grain, and grains are not permitted on the paleo diet.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk a little more about rice in general and why you might want to consider eating rice regardless.

The case for eating white rice

If you are following a strict paleo diet, then read no further. Eating rice would be a mistake and you’ve already wasted your time by going beyond the first sentence.

But for those of you who are following a more “loose” version of paleo, or perhaps you are using it as a guidepost and like the idea of experimenting with foods that work for your individual genetic makeup, then by all means: read on!

Why you might consider eating white rice

  1. Rice is gluten-free and highly tolerable (digestion-wise) for most individuals. You’ll want to experiment with white rice, but the majority of people do well with processing white rice and can tolerate it without issue.
  2. Rice has nutritional value. At its base, both white and brown rice contain fiber, protein, and carbohydrate.
  3. You’re struggling to eat enough calories. This was a big one for me. I’d go to the gym, build muscle and days later I’d lose it because I wasn’t getting enough to eat. I ended up experimenting with white rice on a whim, and it worked really well for me. A, because I tolerated it well, and B it was easy to add a little white rice to my diet to help increase my caloric intake.
  4. You’re not over-indulging on it. If white rice isn’t a major staple of your everyday diet, and you are not eating so much that it’s displacing foods that contain higher quantities of nutrients, then eating a bit of white rice isn’t going to do you much harm.

White rice over brown rice

White rice is a better choice over brown rice because it has less anti-nutrients. Brown rice contains things like lectins, phytates, and arsenic that can create issues for certain individuals.

Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates, which naturally occur in a wide variety of foods. The defense mechanism lectins use to defend themselves in plants may disrupt proper digestion in humans.[1] Because of how long lectins may bind to cells in the digestive tract, they can possibly lead to an autoimmune response or an inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.[2][3] In animal studies, lectins have been found to interfere with the nutrient absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.[4][5]

Phytates may decrease the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.[6] “Human studies have shown that the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc is significantly lower in diets high in phytic acid”.[7]

Arsenic is a toxic chemical that is naturally found in the earth’s soil, water and air. It is one of many anti-nutrients that can find its way into our food. While the FDA has not set a limit on the amount of arsenic that is safe to consume in rice and rice products, it ensures that “consumers can certainly eat rice as part of a well-balanced diet”.[9] However, “brown rice has, on average, 80% more inorganic arsenic than white rice of the same type”.[9]

Is white rice acceptable on other diets?


  1. Peumans WJ, Van Damme EJ. Lectins as plant defense proteins. Plant physiology. 1995 Oct;109(2):347.
  2. Vasconcelos IM, Oliveira JT. Antinutritional properties of plant lectins. Toxicon. 2004 Sep 15;44(4):385-403.
  3. Freed, DLJ. Do dietary lectins cause disease? The evidence is suggestive—and raises interesting possibilities for treatment. BMJ. 1999 Apr 17; 318(7190): 1023–1024.
  4. Kik MJ, Rojer JM, Mouwen JM, Koninkx JF, van Dijk JE, van der Hage MH. The interaction between plant lectins and the small intestinal epithelium: A primary cause of intestinal disturbance. Vet Q. 1989;11:108–115.
  5. Vasconcelos IM, Oliveira JT. Antinutritional properties of plant lectins. Toxicon. 2004;44:385–403.
  6. Schlemmer U, Frølich W, Prieto RM, Grases F. Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Sep;53 Suppl 2:S330-75.
  7. Stevenson L, Phillips F, O’Sullivan K, Walton J. Wheat bran: its composition and benefits to health, a European perspective. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Dec; 63(8): 1001–1013.

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