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The low-calorie rice hack definitely works, but at a price

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

You have to develop a taste for cold rice to save calories

It does really seem to good to be true, but researchers from Sri Lanka have developed a new way to cook rice that reduces the amount of calories it contains by up to 60 percent.

No, they aren't magically extracting calories; it all has to do with the way it's prepared.

Rice is composed of two different types of starches: digestible and indigestible. Our bodies cannot break down indigestible starches so they pass through without absorbing the sugars and carbs that make up the rice.

So, everyone is freaking out after researchers revealed at the American Chemical Society meeting in Denver earlier this week that it's possible to convert the digestible starch to indigestible by changing the cooking process in two ways. First, add a teaspoon of coconut oil into boiling water before adding a half cup of rice, then, after it's cooked, chill the rice for 12 hours before serving.

Really, that's all there is to it? It sounds too good to be true, so we asked food scientist and spokesperson of the Institute of Food Technologists, Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., to explain it to us. Get ready for some big words.

"The addition of a small amount of coconut oil (rich in medium-chain triglycerides) increases the retrogradation or crystallization of starch," Dr. Shelke told SheKnows. "The triglyceride gets entrapped inside the amylose helix and makes the amylose crystallites resistant to digestion. This reduction in the digestion of starch is appreciable when the rice is refrigerated."

Translation, this really works. But, and this is a big but, you cannot then reheat the rice for your meal and expect everything to stay the same.

"The resistance to digestion, and therefore the associated decline in caloric contribution, is largely valid for chilled rice," added Dr. Shelke. "Heating the rice — as rice dishes are normally consumed in hot dishes  — can melt the crystals and make them less resistant to digestion."

So, it's not exactly false, but it's not exactly the best way to eat rice. Or, look at it this way: You'll just have to eat a whole lot more sushi. That doesn't sound like a bad solution, actually.

More on health and weight loss

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