Are rice cakes healthy for your health and weight loss?
This is a question that’s been going around for decades, and there are two different schools of thought.
One is that rice cakes are healthy while the other says that eating rice cakes every day will make you gain weight. But what’s the truth?
It may be a question which you have been asking yourself over and over.
Sometimes, it is hard to find the right answer to such questions. This is because it seems that there are just too many factors involved in this issue.
This article provides the facts on why rice cakes may not be giving you the energy and fitness benefits that you were expecting.
Without any further ado, let’s find out some answers that might help you in your decision of whether to include rice cakes in your diet.
What Are Rice Cakes?
The name is pretty straightforward, isn’t it? It’s a cake that is made from rice.
Rice cakes are made from rice flour, water, and sugar which are mixed together until they form a dough-like substance.
Rice cakes taste like sweet white bread and can come in various forms like square or round shape – depending on how they are cooked.
A rice cake is a sweet snack and is typically flavored with cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Some rice cake recipes include nuts, fruit, or other ingredients.
Nutritional Profile of Rice Cakes
👉 A rice cake has 190 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 11 grams of carbohydrates per 1 cup serving.
👉 Each cupcake typically contains about 3 to 5 grams of fiber.
👉 Rice cakes also contain vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
Health Benefits of Rice Cakes
There is no scientific evidence that taking rice cakes will have any effect on the health effects of your body.
Rice cakes are a good source of dietary fiber and low in calories, which make them a good and sweet snack option for those who are trying to reduce their sugar intake.
The most common side effect of eating rice cakes is bloating.
When your body digests fiber, it creates large amounts of gas that can cause bloating.
This is especially true when the rice cake contains nuts.
However, rice cakes may not be the best source of whole grains due to the processing used to cook them.
The only way to ensure that you are accessing the full health benefits of eating whole grains is to eat 100% whole grain foods.
Most rice products are polished or enriched, which means most of their dietary fiber has been removed during processing.
The Never Ending Rice Cake Debate!
The first argument in favor of rice cakes is based on their nutritional content: they are composed pretty much exclusively from carbohydrates, which give your body energy to function properly.
According to this reasoning, it would be hard to eat enough rice cakes in one day to make a significant difference on your diet.
Therefore, rice cakes should be considered healthy.
Some people take another view. They say that eating a large amount of carbohydrates can cause you to gain weight because carbohydrates are converted into fat in your body if you don’t use them for energy.
Therefore, consuming rice cakes can make you fat even if they only contain simple carbohydrates.
This argument may be part of the reason why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers who produce rice cakes to declare the number of “approximate servings” on their product labels.
The FDA wants consumers to know that some food products contain more calories than they realize from just eating one serving size.
Both arguments have their own merit.
It is true that rice cakes are composed of carbohydrates which can be converted to fat if the body does not need them for energy.
On the other hand, consuming all the carbohydrates from rice cakes in one day is nearly impossible which means they aren’t likely to contribute significantly to your weight gain goals.
Another argument in favor of rice cakes is that they can help you lose weight because they can suppress your appetite so you consume fewer calories than you normally would eat at meal time.
A study by Consumer Reports suggests that this may be true. They compared the calories in rice cakes to that of several other food products, including pretzels, ice cream, and cookies.
They found that eating rice cakes did not significantly increase the total number of calories in their volunteers’ daily diets.
This could be a reason why some people who eat rice cakes often say they feel fuller for longer periods of time than when they were before eating them.
On the other hand, it is possible that they are right: the extra time you spend chewing them and thinking about how much you’re going to enjoy eating them might help you eat less at your next meal.
A final argument in favor of rice cakes is that they are mostly made from healthy ingredients, such as grains.
Many of the alternative health food stores selling rice cakes are actually dedicated to selling healthy foods.
This makes sense because people who want to eat healthier foods often prefer to buy them at places like these rather than buy them in a regular supermarket where other unhealthy products with high fat and sugar content are also available.
Can I Include Rice Cakes In My Weight Loss Diet?
I’m sure you’ve seen rice cakes in stores, and maybe even eaten a few. But are rice cakes healthy when you’re amidst a weight loss journey?
Rice cakes are made from rice flour that’s been ground into a powder. Unlike conventional wheat flour, which has been bleached and heated to get rid of its natural oils, the rice is minimally processed to keep it as natural as possible.
So, personally I would not go about and tell you to ban rice cakes from your life.
However, they’re not without their downsides. They typically contain sugar and other ingredients like salt or honey that could disrupt your weight loss journey (white sugars can’t be digested by the body).
If you’re in a gluten-free or wheat allergy state, they could be your only option for a flour.
And although rice cakes don’t contain all the grams of sugar and fat that some breads do, they do have 30 or more calories per serving. (And that’s before you add any toppings to them!)
So when it comes to plate-fulls, keep them out of the diet.
Downside of Including Rice Cakes In Your Diet
Although rice cakes are moderately nutritious and can be used as part of a healthy diet, there are some things that should still be taken into consideration before making these snacks your main focus.
Some health experts believe that rice cakes could be beneficial for people trying to lose weight.
This is because rice cakes generally have a lot less calories than other snacks, such as chocolate or chips.
Rice cakes also contain relatively high amounts of fiber and protein, which can make you feel full sooner than other foods.
❎ The Carbs Content
However, there are downsides to eating rice cakes too many times when dieting—especially if those who do not have any allergies or food sensitivities don’t account for the carbs from these snack foods.
Rice cakes typically contain a large percentage of carbohydrates, which can throw off your diet if you aren’t careful.
If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you may wind up consuming too many calories when you eat these snacks.
High-carb foods like rice cakes can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, leading to an energy boost followed by a crash.
To counteract the decline back to normal blood sugar levels, you’ll probably eat more than you need at this meal.
If you do eat rice cakes, try to only have one serving each day and be sure to account for the calories—in addition to the carbs—in these foods.
It is also important to note that some people who have food sensitivities or allergies could experience a reaction after eating rice cakes.
The best way you can manage this risk is by reading labels carefully and avoiding all products containing wheat (unless you are a medical professional with a wheat allergy).
💡 Keep in mind that for your body to burn more calories than you actually consume, you need reach or stay at a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day or eat at least 1,500 calories per day based on your activity level and body weight.
❎ Added Chemicals
Rice cakes are often filled with preservatives and other chemicals that boost their shelf life and make them look appealing to consumers.
Unfortunately, the longer a food sits on the shelves, the greater likelihood there is that it’ll contain higher levels of mold or bacteria.
And this can lead to some serious digestion issues as well as other health problems.
❎ Sugar Content
A single serving may not contain as much sugar as a cereal box but if you eat a few of these, it can easily add up to your sugar intake.
And since rice cakes are often used as quick and easy breakfasts for people who are trying to lose weight, this sugar factor is important to keep in mind when snack planning or meal planning.
❎ Low In Fiber
Sure, rice cakes are low in calories and fat, but they don’t have much else going for them.
They’re low in fiber and have a lower nutrient content than other foods that you could be snacking on instead.
A Few Things To Remember About Rice Cakes
They can be a healthy choice if eaten in moderation but they are high in carbohydrates and sugar which means they should not be eaten as a regular part of your diet.
- Rice cakes are not very nutritious by themselves but they do contain certain nutrients. They are a good source of fiber, phosphorus, and vitamin B complex.
- You can use rice cakes in your cooking or as a healthy snack without any concern about chemical additives like BHT or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Rice cakes are not all bad and they are sometimes consumed by many dieters that have testified rice cakes didn’t sabotage their efforts at all.
How Many Rice Cakes Should You Eat?
Most people will eat one rice cake per day for breakfast or as a snack.
These treats are small, tasty and inexpensive so you can easily eat one of them every couple of days and not feel guilty about it.
However, if you want to incorporate rice cakes into your diet or even eat them a couple of times per week then you need to pay attention to how much you are eating.
10 Healthier Alternatives To Rice Cakes
So how can you cope with your rice cake cravings? While there’s no shortage of sugar-filled rice cakes at supermarkets, healthy alternatives are surprisingly easy to find.
Try one of these different snacks or options instead!
Rather than sticking to the same old rice cakes when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your diet, opt for some of these healthy alternatives.
They’re better for you, taste great, and (almost) melt in your mouth!
Instead of snacking on rice cakes, try roasting a cup of popcorn instead! It’s easy to make and you can do it on the stovetop or even in the microwave without much preparation involved.
It has a little bit more calories than a cup of rice cakes but it’s a much healthier choice.
2. Healthy Cookie
If you really want to have something sweet, opt for a small handful of “cookies” instead.
For a quick and easy snack that’s much healthier than rice cakes, try making your own cookies!
These delicious recipes only take 5 minutes to prepare (or less!) so you can bake up a batch of these healthy cookies in no time.
They’re filled with ingredients that are lower in sugars and calories than most rice cakes but taste great!
3. Healthy Tofu
Tofu is a good source of protein and it’s full of iron, calcium, and B12 vitamins.
It also has a low fat content and minimal carbohydrate levels which means you can often eat more because it’s lower in calories.
Tofu is also very filling since it has high protein levels which makes it a great snack on the go.
Try making some quick tofu “rice cakes” by baking them in the oven or even on the stovetop for 15 minutes until they’re crispy or bake them in your microwave for about 30 seconds until they’re heated through.
It will taste just like the store-bought stuff but it’s healthier.
4. Flax Crackers
Soaking some flax seeds in water overnight and then ground into flakes gives them a much firmer consistency that gives them a similar flavor and texture to rice cakes.
It also makes them much easier to digest.
You can make your own flax cake by combining about 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of ground flax seeds and baking them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the edge turns brown.
Once your seed ‘cakes’ are cool, you can roll them into bite sized balls and enjoy as a healthy alternative snack or add it to salads for extra nutrition!
If you have a craving for something sweet, try eating an apple or any other fruit.
You can also make your own fruit snacks by cutting up an apple or any other type of fruit and placing it on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle the fruit with cinnamon and bake it in the oven at 350F until it’s nice and bubbly.
Serve this warm with unsweetened vanilla soy milk for a delicious alternative snack that’s healthier than rice cakes.
6. Healthy Sweet Potato Chips
Who doesn’t love potato chips? They’re salty, crispy, and just full of flavor but they’re not good for you so it can be hard to find a good alternative.
Try slicing up a sweet potato and roasting it in the oven for 15 minutes with a little coconut milk, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper .
They’ll taste just like the store-bought chips but without all of the trans fats and extra sugar.
Add some ground flax seeds or rice cakes on the side for dipping if you want to make your healthy alternative snack truly satisfying!
7. Raw Oatmeal
Raw oats are an excellent alternative snack especially if you’re going on a road trip or hike.
All you have to do is combine oatmeal (regular or instant) with enough water to make a thick paste before adding any other ingredients you like.
Pour the mixture into a baking pan, spread it out evenly, and place it in the fridge to chill. When you’re ready for a healthy alternative snack, slice it up and enjoy!
8. Chickpea Snacks
Chickpeas are one of the most nutrient-dense legumes there is so why not make them into a healthy alternative snack?
Smash some chickpeas using a potato masher or food processor and combine them with your favorite spices like salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder (optional), garlic powder, cumin (optional), nutritional yeast (optional), tahini (optional), and other spices like onion powder or ground ginger.
You can also add a few drops of liquid smoke and/or chili sauce like sriracha to add some interesting flavors.
9. Chia Puddings
Chia puddings are made by soaking the chia seed in water and letting it ferment before eating it.
It’s a great way to add some extra fiber to your diet.
For a healthy alternative snack, try dipping some apple slices in your chia seed pudding!
Make your own chia seed pudding by combining one tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water. Let it sit for an hour before eating it or once the pudding has reached its desired consistency.
You can make it as thick or thin as you like depending on how long you let it sit before eating!
10. Rice Milk
Many people are lactose intolerant or they just don’t like cow’s milk because there are too many hormones in it so they opt for rice milk instead.
However, rice milk is not as healthy as it may seem like.
It’s made solely from starch granules and it’s high in sugar. And even if you just look at the ingredients list of many brands of rice milk, you’ll see that it contains lots of sodium and other preservatives.
I tried making a similar product using quinoa flour but it didn’t taste nearly as good! Rice milk is definitely not worth your time or your money.
My personal favorite alternative is to mix some unflavored smoothie mix with water (about 1/2 cup for every 1/2 cup rice milk). I blend it until smooth and stir in sweetener to taste. It tastes great!
You can even use a frother to make the milk frothy which makes it taste more like rice milk but you can also give it a less foamy consistency if you prefer.
I also love adding cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla extract for flavor.
Final Thoughts on “Are Rice Cakes Healthy When Dieting?
There is a lot of debate about whether rice cakes are safe to include in a weight loss program.
So, how can you ensure that your rice cakes aren’t just “healthy” (which are often nothing more than a sugar bomb), but actually healthy?
You won’t be getting anything for free from your favorite label.
These are marketed as healthy and they do have some health benefits, but you’ll need to be prepared to work for them.
You must take the time and make it a habit of paying attention to what you’re putting in your mouth and see how it affects your weight loss.