Do rice cakes make you gain weight?

Eating rice cakes may make you gain weight, especially if you top them with unhealthy things.
Eating rice cakes may make you gain weight, especially if you top them with unhealthy things.

It is possible that rice cakes may make you gain weight. This is especially true if you eat several at a time and top them with unhealthy things.

Rice cakes are a snack food. They are disk-shaped products made of puffed rice (white or brown). They are low in calories (35 to 40 kcal per cake). Other minor ingredients, such as sesame seed, millet and salt may be added to give them a distinct flavor or consistency.

The low-calorie count of rice cakes may be a bonus, but they are not the best weight-loss food. Rice cakes digest quickly since they are devoid of a significant amount of fiber. The spike in blood sugar and insulin levels after ingestion of rice may cause weight gain. Rice cakes may not give a feeling of satiety if a person is just eating one or two rice cakes. Some flavored rice cakes also have added sugars, salt, calories and artificial ingredients. Choose rice cakes made with brown or whole-grain rice because these will be more filling. Carbs can make an individual hungry, so combine rice cakes with a protein source, such as ham, low-fat cream cheese with smoked salmon or a little peanut butter. The nutritional value of rice cakes depends on how an individual is eating them.

  • Plain rice cakes may be topped with just honey, hummus, avocado and veggies.
  • Eating them with nut butter or hummus can up the nutritional intake and slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • Top rice crackers with tuna or tomato rather than Vegemite or jam to stabilize blood sugar levels and control appetite.
  • Look for the healthier ones made from whole grains and seeds, which increase the fiber and nutrient content. Rice cakes with whole grains, seeds and seaweed make them higher in fiber, nutrients and taste than traditional white cakes.

What are the advantages of including rice cakes in the diet?

The advantages of including rice cakes in the diet may vary depending on brand and other artificially added flavors.

  • Rice cakes may be a great alternative to  high-calorie and high-fat snacks.
  • Rice cakes have become a staple diet food. They are large, round, crunchy and bland. They promise a quick snack that can satisfy cravings without the guilt.
  • Rice cakes are a high source of carbs and are low in fat. To make them a tempting food for children, you can dunk rice cakes in milk and eat them with a scoop of ice -cream.
  • Rice cakes are also considered a good snack because they are usually cheap and easily available. They are easy to store and most people use them as emergency snacks or for desk lunches.
  • Rice cakes are a good calorie alternative to bread. When kick starting a weight loss program, rice cakes make for an easy bread alternative. Most people consider rice cakes to be a safe diet food because they do not have fat or many calories. They tend to be free from saturated fat. The total calories will vary based on the brand and type of rice cake. In general, one rice cake tends to have 60 to 70 calories. People on a diet often eat these cakes to fight cravings for crunchy foods, such as chips.
  • They are usually gluten free, so they don’t cause bloating or indigestion. Rice cakes are an easily digestible food with the main component being starch.

What are the disadvantages of including rice cakes in the diet?

The disadvantages of including rice cakes in diet include 

  • Rice is a high glycemic index grain even when it's eaten as a whole grain (brown), so it may spike blood sugar levels. Some brands add sugar or corn syrup to their rice cakes.
  • Most rice cakes do contain added salt. Individuals at risk for heart disease should reduce their intake of sodium and limit the intake of rice cakes.
  • They are not nutrient-dense foods and are not considered a healthy replacement. Even though their primary ingredient is whole-grain brown rice, rice cakes are low in total nutritional value.
  • The preparatory process makes rice cakes difficult to digest physically and chemically. Rice cakes  become hard and sticky when cold and they are not easily dissolved in hot water.

If an individual wants to try rice cakes as a snack, they may top them with some peanut butter, cream cheese or another spread that contains fat and protein, so that blood glucose levels do not spike. Avoid rice cakes with added corn syrup, honey, sucrose or fructose.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/25/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

Clinical Nutrition Research


Cereal Grains for the Food and Beverage Industries


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