Cooking trick to cut calories in rice

Sumita Thomas

February 4, 2021

Soft puffy chawal with rajma, chicken curry, chole or sambar is a source of comfort on the toughest of days. Rice is an intrinsic part of the diet of most Indians. Unfortunately, it is unhealthy as it is laden with starch and empty calories. Wouldn’t you like it if there was a way to cut calories in rice?

A cup of cooked rice contains 200 calories. This is why it is one of the first items to be ticked off the menu when someone is trying to lose weight. But what if you could shave 50% of its calories off it?

Sri Lankan research scientist Sudhair James believes that can be possible just by adding one ingredient while cooking – a small helping of coconut oil. James presented his findings at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society earlier this month.

According to James, the trick is to add a little bit of coconut oil (3% of the weight of rice being cooked) to boiling water before you add rice. Once the rice is cooked, let it cool and then refrigerate it. You can reheat it before eating. Addition of a fat and immediate cooling trigger certain chemical changes in the starch that makes it ‘resistant’ in nature. It means, compared to normal starch, the starch in rice is digested slowly and also releases sugar into the body slowly. This slow burn of calories reduces risk for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. And reheating rice cooked this way does not take away the benefits achieved by cooling.

So far James has only measured the chemical outcome for the least healthful of 38 varieties available in Sri Lanka. But that variety still produced a 10 to 12% reduction in calories.  With the better kind, he and his team believe they can reduce calories by as much as 50 to 60%.

So the next time you’re craving some dal-chawal, try out his suggestion. The possibility that you’ve cut some calories may ease the guilt of cheating on your diet, and help you enjoy this comfort food a little more!

Want more tips & tricks to make your diet healthy and nutritious and work with experts that can transform your weight-loss journey? Visit

About the Author

For Sumita Thomas, good nutrition advice is less about what NOT to eat and all about HOW to eat. Armed with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics from IGNOU, Sumita has worked with multi-specialty clinics and corporate clients, planning calorie-specific menus for their cafeterias. She’s also a certified diabetes educator, has worked in cardiac nutrition and is even a TUV-certified internal auditor for food safety management systems. Maybe that’s why she ensures her advice is always scientifically sound, which makes her a perfect fit for us at HealthifyMe. Of the belief that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved with the combination of a healthy mind, body and diet, Sumita recommends setting realistic goals – one health target a day – and gradually incorporating healthy ingredients to your daily diet. Does she practice what she preaches? For sure, and ensures all those around her do too. So get set, because that now includes you!

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