White rice is a staple food for many cultures around the world. It’s an inexpensive source of carbohydrates and calories, making it a nutritious option for meals. However, some people may wonder how many carbohydrates are actually 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 leaves mostly the starchy endosperm, which is what people eat. The milling process improves the shelf life but removes many nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Still, white rice is an important global food. The most common types are long-grain and short-grain white rice.
Nutritionally, cooked white rice supplies calories, carbohydrates, and a small amount of protein. One cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice provides (1):
- Calories: 206
- Carbs: 45 grams
- Protein: 4.2 grams
- Fat: 0.4 grams
As you can see, white rice is mainly a source of carbohydrates.
Carb Content of Cooked White Rice
So exactly how many carbohydrates are in a serving of cooked white rice? Let’s take a closer look.
One cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice contains about 45 grams of carbs (1).
This carb count remains similar for both long- and short-grain white rice varieties. For example, 158 grams (1 cup) of cooked, enriched long-grain white rice has 44.5 grams of carbs, while the same amount of regular, short-grain white rice has about 45 grams of carbs (2, 3).
Brown rice, which still has the bran and germ, contains slightly more carbs at 51 grams per cooked cup (4).
For simplicity, you can estimate right around 45 grams of carbs per cup of cooked white rice, regardless of whether it is long- or short-grain.
Carb Content of Uncooked White Rice
Rice is typically sold dry and uncooked. The carb count changes once rice is cooked and absorbs water.
Here are the carb counts for uncooked white rice (1 cup/195 grams) (2, 3):
- Long-grain white rice: Uncooked — 161 grams of carbs
- Short-grain white rice: Uncooked — 163 grams of carbs
As you can see, dry white rice contains a lot more carbs by weight because it has not absorbed any water. However, when you cook rice, it absorbs water and expands. The carbs then become spread out over a larger cooked volume.
Carb Density of White Rice
The carb density of a food looks at the number of carbs relative to serving size. Carb density matters most on low-carb diets like keto.
Cooked white rice has a moderate carb density. Some comparisons:
- Breads, crackers, and pasta: 15–30 grams per ounce (dense)
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes: 5–10 grams per ounce (moderate)
- Non-starchy vegetables: 2–5 grams per ounce (low)
- Cooked white rice: 14 grams per ounce (moderate)
In summary, white rice provides a moderate number of carbs for its serving size compared to other starchy foods.
Glycemic Index of White Rice
The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar. A lower GI means slower blood sugar spikes.
Refined grains like white rice have a high GI, as they are quickly digested and absorbed:
- Long-grain white rice GI: 64–69 (high GI)
- Short-grain white rice GI: 72–83 (high GI)
In comparison, brown rice has a GI around 50–55, considered medium on the glycemic index (5).
This means white rice digests quickly and can lead to more of a blood sugar spike compared to less processed rice varieties.
Here is how the nutrition of white rice compares to brown rice and quinoa — two higher protein, lower carb alternatives (1, 4, 6):
|White rice (1 cup cooked)||206||45 grams||4.2 grams|
|Brown rice (1 cup cooked)||248||51 grams||5 grams|
|Quinoa (1 cup cooked)||222||39 grams||8 grams|
Brown rice and quinoa contain more fiber and nutrients than white rice. Therefore, they may provide more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds (7, 8).
Ways to Reduce the Carbs in White Rice
For those looking to lower their carb intake, there are some simple ways to reduce the carbs in rice:
- Measure out smaller portions rather than 1 cup.
- Try riced cauliflower as a low-carb substitute.
- Mix in chopped vegetables like peas, carrots, onions, or peppers.
- Serve rice pilaf-style, with chicken or vegetable broth instead of water.
- Flavor it with herbs, spices, lemon juice, etc. to maximize taste in smaller portions.
- Opt for brown rice or wild rice.
- Experiment with ancient grains like farro or freekeh.
Foods to Eat Alongside White Rice
White rice is often accompanied by other healthy foods as part of a well-rounded meal:
- Proteins: beans, lentils, chicken, shrimp, tofu, eggs
- Non-starchy vegetables: broccoli, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, peppers
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds
- Herbs and spices: garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, curry powder
Be sure to incorporate plenty of lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats when enjoying white rice as part of a meal.
Simple Ways to Prepare White Rice
White rice is easy to prepare.
To make stovetop rice, here is an easy recipe:
- Rinse rice in a mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
- In a saucepan, combine 1 cup rice with 2 cups water or broth. Add a pinch of salt.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15–20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
Rice can also be conveniently microwaved. Simply combine 1 cup rice with 2 cups liquid in a microwavable dish, cover, and microwave on high for 15–20 minutes.
An Instant Pot or rice cooker also streamlines cooking. Follow manufacturer instructions for timing.
Typical Ways to Serve White Rice
Here are some of the most common ways people enjoy white rice as part of meals and recipes:
- Rice pilaf: rice cooked in broth with vegetables and seasonings
- Rice salad: rice mixed with vegetables, nuts, tuna, chicken, and vinaigrette
- Risotto: short-grain rice cooked with broth and stirred into a creamy dish
- Jambalaya: rice dish with vegetables, tomato sauce, and chicken, sausage, or shrimp
- Fried rice: white rice stir-fried with eggs, vegetables, and often meat or shrimp
- Sushi: white rice formed into rolls or wraps with fish, egg, avocado, and vegetables
- Rice pudding: rice cooked with milk, sugar, and spices like cinnamon and vanilla
The fluffy, mild taste of white rice makes it versatile for soaking up and complementing sauces and seasonings.
Should You Rinse White Rice?
Rinsing rice before cooking is somewhat controversial!
Potential benefits of rinsing rice include:
- Removes excess starch for fluffier grains
- Gets rid of any debris or dust
- Makes the rice less sticky when cooking
However, rinsing rice also has some drawbacks:
- Can wash away some vitamins and minerals
- Longer prep time
- May require adjustment to water ratio for cooking
In the end, it comes down to personal preference. For those who like rice with separate, drier grains, rinsing may be preferred.
Storing and Reheating Leftover Rice
Cooked rice should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate leftover rice in a sealed container for 3–5 days.
To reheat rice:
- Use the microwave, adding a little water to prevent drying out
- Stir-fry rice in a skillet with oil to fluff it up
- Make fried rice by cooking rice with eggs, vegetables, and soy sauce
- Add rice to soups, stir-fries, and casseroles
For longer storage, cooked rice can be frozen for several months in an airtight freezer bag or container. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Possible Concerns With White Rice
While white rice can be part of a healthy diet, it’s also important to consider a few potential downsides.
White rice processing removes beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, its high glycemic index may negatively affect blood sugar control in some people.
Eating large amounts of white rice and not much else could potentially raise the risk of diabetes. However, research on this has been mixed (9).
As with any grain, moderation is key, even for generally healthy foods like rice. It’s wise to keep portions reasonable and choose a mix of whole and refined grains.
The Bottom Line
One cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice contains about 45 grams of carbohydrates.
White rice is mainly a starchy carb source without much protein, fat, or fiber. Its high glycemic index means it can spike blood sugar levels.
Still, rice is a versatile grain that can be part of a healthy diet when combined with vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. As with any grain, moderation with portion sizes is important.