During the low-fat, high carbohydrate craze of the late 1980’s and 1990’s, rice cakes quickly became one of the ultimate diet foods. So we bought them in bulk thinking that, if we swapped our cookies and crackers for 70 calorie rice cakes, we’d lose weight and look great.
They may be low in calories, about 35 a pop, but when eaten alone they can actually sabotage weight loss. If you look at the Nutrition Facts Label on a package of rice cakes, you’ll see a whole lot of nothing. No fat, no fiber, minimal vitamins and minerals, and maybe 1 gram of protein–all important nutrients that nourish your body, improve satiety and actually keep your mind off of snacking.
The truth about rice cakes is this. They are little more than refined carbohydrates (which are quickly digested and converted into sugar) that have been sprinkled with salt, and possibly sprayed with some artificial flavoring. Their glycemic index, an indicator of how a food affects blood sugar, ranks pretty high at 82 compared to pure sugar which tops out at 100. Instead of taking your mind off of food, snacking on rice cakes on an empty stomach can induce a spike in blood sugar that might just leave you feeling sluggish and craving, you got it, more rice cakes.
Instead of reaching for those rice cakes the next time hunger strikes, try choosing a nourishing snack with healthy fats, protein and fiber. Here are five quick and easy ideas:
- A whole grain wrap with peanut butter and sliced banana
- Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and berries
- Hummus with veggies and a serving of pita chips for dipping
- A 1-ounce (28g) serving of almonds and a small piece of fruit
- 100% whole grain toast with topped with a sliced hard boiled egg, avocado and a sprinkle of salt & pepper
And if you can’t entirely let go of rice cakes, fear not. Buy the plain variety and flavor them yourself with something nourishing, like a tablespoon of almond butter and fresh peach slices.
Originally published April 2014
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