Rice is a staple food for many people around the world. It’s versatile, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. White rice is the most common type of rice and is a great source of carbohydrates. However, many people wonder how many calories there are in a serving of cooked white rice.
The Basics of White Rice
White rice is milled rice that has had its husk, bran, and germ removed. This gives it a light color and mild flavor compared to brown rice. The milling process removes nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, white rice is enriched with some added nutrients after processing.
There are several varieties of white rice. Long grain rice has a longer, slender kernel. Medium grain rice is shorter and wider. Short grain rice is almost round in shape.
Some common types of white rice include:
- White basmati rice
- Jasmine rice
- Arborio rice
- Sticky or glutinous white rice
When white rice is cooked, the grains become soft and fluffy. The cooking time depends on the variety of rice, but generally takes 15-20 minutes.
Nutrition Facts for White Rice
Here are the nutrition facts for 1 cup of cooked white rice without added salt or fat:
As you can see, one cup of cooked white rice without added fat or salt contains about 205 calories. It also provides 4.2 grams of protein and 44.5 grams of carbohydrates while being very low in fat.
Calories in Different Types of White Rice
While all white rice has a similar number of calories per cup when cooked, there can be slight differences between varieties. Here is a comparison of calories in 1 cup of some popular types of white rice:
|Type of White Rice
|Long grain white rice
|Short grain white rice
|Sticky white rice
The calories per cup are very similar across different types of white rice. Short grain and sticky rice are a bit higher at 210 calories per cup cooked. Arborio rice is a little lower at 200 calories. But most varieties clock in right around 205 calories per cooked cup.
Factors Affecting Calories in White Rice
There are a few factors that can alter the calorie count of cooked white rice:
- Added ingredients: Plain white rice has 205 calories, but adding butter, oil, or other ingredients increases the calories.
- Cooking method: Rice cooked in an oil-based pilaf will have more calories than rice boiled in water.
- Serving size: The calories add up quickly if you eat 2 cups or more of rice versus 1 cup.
- Enriched rice: Some enriched rice may have slightly more calories than unenriched due to added vitamins.
To keep the calories around 205 per cup, it’s best to enjoy plain white rice cooked in water without adding extra fat or oil during preparation.
The Calorie Count in Different Portions of White Rice
Here is the calorie count for different serving sizes of plain cooked white rice without added fat or salt:
|1/4 cup white rice
|1/3 cup white rice
|1/2 cup white rice
|2/3 cup white rice
|3/4 cup white rice
|1 cup white rice
|1.5 cups white rice
|2 cups white rice
|2.5 cups white rice
|3 cups white rice
As you increase the portion size, the calories increase proportionally. So 1/4 cup of rice has about 51 calories, while 1 cup has 205 calories and 3 cups contains 615 calories.
Calorie Density of White Rice
In addition to total calories, looking at calorie density can be helpful. Calorie density is the number of calories in a food per gram. It measures how calorie-packed a food is.
Cooked white rice has a calorie density of approximately 0.44 calories per gram. That’s considered a low calorie density food. Water-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and cooked grains are low density foods with 0.5 calories per gram or less.
The low calorie density of rice means you can eat a portion with a reasonable amount of calories. It also means rice can help make a meal feel more filling and substantial without packing in too many calories.
How White Rice Compares to Other Grains
Here is how white rice compares calorie-wise to some other popular grains:
|Calories per 1 cup
|White rice (medium grain)
|Brown rice (medium grain)
White rice is very comparable to most other grains in calories. It contains a similar number of calories as brown rice and quinoa. Rice has slightly more calories per cup than bulgur wheat and oats.
Is White Rice Healthy?
While white rice is low in fat and calories, it has both pros and cons when it comes to nutrition:
- Good source of carbohydrates for energy
- Easy to digest
- Low in fat and calories
- Very affordable and accessible
- Lower in nutrients than brown rice
- Higher glycemic index which may spike blood sugar
- Refined grain that is low in fiber
- May lack protein, vitamins, and minerals found in whole grains
Overall, white rice can fit into a balanced diet in moderation. It’s best eaten along with foods that add nutritional value, like vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Brown rice, quinoa, and barley make excellent alternatives if you are looking for more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Tips for Serving White Rice
Here are some tips for enjoying white rice as part of a healthy diet:
- Pay attention to portion sizes – stick to 1/2 to 1 cup cooked rice per meal
- Skip butter, oil, or heavy sauces to keep calories down
- Combine rice with plant-based proteins like beans or tofu
- Add plenty of vegetables to balance out the carbs
- Choose brown rice or wild rice for more nutrients
- Enjoy rice as part of balanced meals, not on its own
- Opt for plain rice over fried rice dishes or rice pilafs
Healthy Meals with White Rice
These healthy meal ideas use 1/2 to 1 cup white rice as a base:
- Stir fry with rice, chicken or tofu, and veggies
- Rice bowl with salmon, edamame, carrots, cabbage, and avocado
- Burrito bowls with rice, black beans, salsa, corn, and shredded lettuce
- Coconut curry with rice, chickpeas, and spinach
- Rice salad with tuna or chicken, peppers, onion, and vinaigrette
- Jambalaya with rice, chicken, shrimp, tomatoes, and Cajun seasoning
Does white rice have carbs?
Yes, white rice is almost entirely carbohydrates. One cup of cooked white rice has about 45 grams of carbohydrates, primarily starch.
Is rice fattening?
Plain white rice is not particularly fattening. One cup contains just 205 calories and less than half a gram of fat. However, rice dishes made with lots of oil, butter, or creamy sauces can be high in calories and fat.
Is rice gluten-free?
Yes, all types of rice including white rice are naturally gluten-free. Rice does not contain gluten proteins.
Does rice have protein?
White rice provides a small amount of plant-based protein with about 4 grams per cup. While not a major source of protein, rice eaten with beans or meat can help provide adequate protein in a meal.
The Bottom Line
One cup of plain cooked white rice has 205 calories. This number can vary slightly depending on the type of rice from 200-210 calories per cup cooked. Factors like added fats or oils, portion size, and serving method impact total calories as well.
While white rice is low in nutrients compared to whole grains, it can be part of a healthy diet in moderation. Focus on balancing rice with vegetables, plant proteins, and lean meats.