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Mar 19, 2007 02:19 PM

Why does Basmati Rice (White or Brown) have so many calories?!

Lately I've been on an Indian food kick, but I've also been trying to lose weight and I found out recently that Basmati Rice, both the white and brown varieties, has a huge amount calories.
Even long grain white rice doesn't have as many calories as brown Basmati rice.
Does anyone know why?

All I'm trying to do is enjoy my Dal (healthy-ish) without blowing my calories on rice!


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  1. Brown rice actually has more fat that white rice, although it also has slightly more fibre. Although it may be marginally more healthy than white rice, brown rice isn't, as you have discovered, a "diet pass" as a substitute for white rice.

    1. Where are you getting the calorie information from? Are you comparing values for equivalent amounts (preferably by weight) of raw rice? If you are comparing cooked rice, keep in mind that an Indian style pilaf has a lot more fat (ghee) than plain rice.

      I looked at the packages of several kinds of rice. All give about 150-160 calories per 1/4 cup of raw rice.


      7 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        These are the same stats I found, but don't you think 150 calories for a paltry 1/4 cup of rice is a lot? I've never cooked Basmati with ghee, although I don't don't that they use it in restaurants.
        But if you compare normal long grain rice to basmati, regular rice has about half the calories of Basmati (raw) and I'm not sure why there's such a big difference between two relatively similar food products and why 1 cup of a grain would have more calories than something seemingly more caloric like, say, an avocado.

        Thanks for your responses, btw!

        1. re: empecot

          I think it's because Basmati rice fluffs up more when it cooks, so 1/4 of dry Basmati gives you more cooked rice than an equal amount of regular rice. I bet if you compared nutritionals for cooked rice, they'd be pretty similar.

          Or it could be that you're reading info for biryani, a dish with Basmati rice. In which case, it's the loads of butter that add calories and fat.

          1. re: piccola

            If both kinds have the same amount of calories raw, and if the basmati fluffs up more when it cooks then - logically - when you measure the same volume of cooked rice, the basmati should have fewer calories for the same volume of cooked rice. This whole thing doesn't make any sense.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Originally the OP said dry Basmati had more calories than an equal amount of dry long-grain. That's what I based my speculation on. Since the original premise is false, of course my reply is wrong too.

              1. re: piccola

                Ouch I have a headache. Never mind. I think I'll just go cook something.

          2. re: empecot

            I found 150 calories on basmati, arborio, and short grain rice packages. Where with did you see a lower figure for long grain? What was it? Remember, I am comparing raw values.

            1. re: paulj

              I was responding to the OP's statement.

        2. Are you sure you're not comparing calorie counts for raw rice to cooked?

          1. One cup of cooked, regular, long grain, white rice has 205 calories per cup.

            One ounce of the same rice has 36 calories, one ounce of cooked pasta has 37 calories, one ounce of cooked, pearled barley has 34 calories and one ounce of cooked, long grain, brown rice has 31 calories. One ounce of avocado, 47 calories (a cup is 384 calories). Bottom line, I think, is that most grains have about the same amount of calories per ounce when cooked.

            The 150 calorie per quarter cup is definitely for uncooked, dry rice. I couldn't easily locate a calorie figure for cooked brown basmati rice.

            All of this info is from nutritiondata.com

            5 Replies
            1. re: ccbweb

              Oh...ok. This makes sense now! I think perhaps the calorie information on the web is a little conflicting regarding the raw vs. cooked aspect. Thank you ccbweb for the comprehensive comparison. I did some snooping around on the web for the calorie count on brown Basmati and it's true that most of the calorie counts are for raw brown Basmati, not cooked, whereas the calorie counts for regular brown rice (long grain) are normally listed for cooked rice not raw. Hence the confusion.
              Yeah! Now I can eat my brown Basmati with less guilt :-)

              1. re: empecot

                Its definitely a confusing area. There aren't any "standard" portion sizes, so comparing is quite difficult. You add cooked vs. raw to things like grains which, especially by volume are so very different and it gets even worse. I have to keep track of calories pretty closely for health reasons, so I've spend a fair bit of time exploring how to figure out how many calories I'm taking in. Happy it helped!

                1. re: empecot

                  Sometimes info gets replicated on the web in an almost viral way, without fact-checking or referencing the source - so one instance of bad or incomplete info (for example not specifying whether calorie info refers to raw or cooked rice) ends up being copied in many other places (recipes are another example of this). It's a good idea to find one reputable source of calorie info and stick with that. A lot of people like http://www.fitday.com/ for tracking calories.

                  1. re: julesrules

                    I've heard fitday is good. I use Sparkpeople to track calories, but they don't always have something as obscure as brown Basmati rice in their database, hence my having to trudge through the internet for info, espcially for ethnic foods.

                    Well, thanks so much everyone for your very helpful responses!

                2. re: ccbweb

                  Right. A gram of carbohydrates is a gram of carbohydrates (whether "complex" or simple for that matter -- it confuses people why an ounce of whole grain cereal doesn't have significantly fewer calories that an ounce of high-sugar cereal, but if you're comparing weight to weight, it's the same!). Dry grains are basically pure carbohydrates (with slight variations from the fibre and fat), so weight for weight they're all about the same.

                  But when you cook grains they absorb various amounts of water, which changes the weight and the volume (but not the calories, since water has no calories) to various degrees. So the one-to-one comparisons are no longer valid. If you're really serious about counting calories, you should weigh your grains uncooked, as that's the most accurate way to determine the amount of grain, not water.

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