How many calories does a plate of rice and beans contain?

Rice and beans are a staple food combination in many cultures around the world. Knowing the calorie content of a typical serving can help with meal planning and maintaining a healthy diet.

The Nutritional Value of Rice

Rice is a versatile and popular cereal grain that has been a dietary staple for centuries. The most common types of rice are white, brown, jasmine, basmati, and wild rice. Rice is composed primarily of carbohydrates, but also provides small amounts of protein and virtually no fat.

Here is an overview of the calorie and nutrient content in a 1 cup cooked serving of common types of rice (source: USDA FoodData Central):

Type of Rice Calories Carbs Protein Fat
White rice 205 44g 4.2g 0.4g
Brown rice 216 46g 5g 1.8g
Jasmine rice 191 41g 4g 0.1g
Basmati rice 176 37g 4g 0.5g
Wild rice 166 35g 6.5g 0.9g

As you can see, the calorie content per cup of cooked rice ranges from 166-216 calories depending on the variety. The main nutritional difference between white and brown rice is that brown rice contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals since it has the bran layer intact.

The Nutrition in Beans

Beans are a plant-based protein packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the most common varieties are black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and lentils.

Here is an overview of the nutritional content in a 1 cup cooked serving of popular bean varieties (source: USDA FoodData Central):

Type of Bean Calories Carbs Protein Fat Fiber
Black beans 227 41g 15g 0.9g 15g
Pinto beans 245 45g 15g 1g 15g
Kidney beans 225 40g 15g 0.5g 16g
Garbanzo beans 269 45g 14g 4.2g 12g
Lentils 230 40g 17g 0.8g 16g

Beans range from about 225-269 calories per cooked cup. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium, and folate.

Calories in a Typical Plate of Rice and Beans

Now that we’ve examined the calorie content of individual components, we can estimate the total calories in a typical plate or bowl of rice and beans.

A standard plate or bowl may contain around 1-2 cups of rice and 1 cup of beans. Let’s calculate the calorie range based on some common portions:

  • 1 cup white rice (205 calories) + 1 cup black beans (227 calories) = 432 calories
  • 1.5 cups brown rice (324 calories) + 1 cup kidney beans (225 calories) = 549 calories
  • 2 cups basmati rice (352 calories) + 1 cup lentils (230 calories) = 582 calories

As you can see, a typical plate or bowl of rice and beans can range from around 430-580 calories depending on the exact type and portion sizes of rice and beans used.

Lower Calorie Options

Here are some easy ways to reduce the calorie count of your rice and bean dish:

  • Use a lower calorie rice like basmati or wild rice
  • Stick to a 1 cup portion of rice instead of 1.5-2 cups
  • Bulk up the meal with extra veggies like peppers, onions, spinach
  • Cook beans from scratch instead of canned to reduce sodium
  • Flavor rice and beans with fresh herbs and spices instead of oil or butter
  • Skip high calorie toppings like cheese, sour cream, or creamy sauces

With some simple substitutions and healthier cooking methods, you can easily reduce the calories in rice and beans by 100-200 calories per serving.

The Benefits of Rice and Beans

Rice and beans pack a nutritional punch when enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Some benefits include:

  • High fiber – The combination of grains and legumes provides filling fiber.
  • Lean protein – Beans are an excellent plant-based protein.
  • Complex carbs – Rice offers sustained energy from carbohydrates.
  • Vitamins and minerals – Together they provide a range of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
  • Satisfying – The pairing makes a complete protein meal that will keep you full.
  • Affordable – Rice and beans are budget-friendly pantry staples.
  • Versatile – You can flavor them in many ways for variety.

Rice and beans are truly a nutritional power duo. Watching portion sizes and choosing healthier cooking methods can keep the calorie content reasonable as part of an overall healthy diet.

Typical Portion Sizes

To maintain a balanced diet, what are some reasonable portion sizes for rice and beans?

The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend the following grains and protein servings per day based on age, gender, and activity level:

  • Grains: 5-8 ounce equivalents per day
  • Protein: 5-7 ounce equivalents per day

Here are suggested single serving sizes for rice and beans based on these guidelines:

  • Rice: 1/2 to 1 cup cooked rice per serving
  • Beans: 1/2 to 1 cup beans per serving

However, your personal needs may vary based on your height, weight goals, and activity level. It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider and registered dietitian to determine your ideal portion sizes.

Sample Meal Plans with Rice and Beans

Here are a couple healthy sample meal plans that incorporate rice and beans:

Sample 1

  • 3 oz grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup black beans

Sample 2

  • 3 oz baked fish
  • 1 cup roasted sweet potato
  • 1 cup spinach salad
  • 3/4 cup pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

These provide a balanced meal with 3-4 oz of lean protein, 1-1.5 cups of veggies, and 1/2 to 3/4 cup each of whole grains and beans. The combinations meet nutrition needs while keeping portions in check.

Making Rice and Beans

Preparing a nutritious pot of rice and beans is easy. Follow these simple steps for building a flavorful rice and bean dish:

  1. Sauté aromatics: Cook chopped onions, garlic, chili peppers in a pot with a bit of oil for a few minutes.
  2. Toast rice: Add uncooked rice and toast for 2-3 minutes to enhance flavor.
  3. Add broth and beans: Pour in broth or water and canned or cooked beans and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer: Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  5. Season: Add any herbs, spices, or garnishes and adjust seasoning as desired.
  6. Serve hot: Dish into bowls and serve immediately while hot.

Get creative with mix-ins like bell peppers, leafy greens, corn, salsa, avocado, or Greek yogurt. The basic formula combines nutritious whole foods in one flavorful, budget-friendly recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the healthiest beans to pair with rice?

Some of the healthiest bean varieties to pair with rice are black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils. They provide fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants.

Is rice and beans gluten-free?

Yes, rice and bean dishes are naturally gluten-free, making them a good meal option for anyone avoiding gluten.

Are canned or dried beans healthier?

Dried beans that are soaked and cooked from scratch are typically healthier than canned. Canned beans can be high in added sugar and sodium. Rinsing canned beans can remove some sodium.

What is a low carb substitute for rice in rice and beans?

Some low carb alternatives to try instead of rice include cauliflower rice, riced broccoli, diced sweet potatoes, quinoa, or cubed butternut squash.

What are the best seasonings for rice and beans?

Season rice and beans with cumin, chili powder, garlic, onion, cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, or any of your favorite herbs and spices.


Rice and beans together can make a nutritious and affordable meal. A typical 1-2 cup serving of rice with 1 cup beans will provide around 430-580 calories depending on the types chosen. Following healthy preparation methods like using lean proteins, adding vegetables, and avoiding excessive oil, salt, cheese and fatty toppings can help keep calories in check. What really matters most is watching your personal portions and enjoying rice and beans as part of an overall balanced diet based on your individual calorie needs.

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