Is Rice Good for Weight Loss?

If you’ve set out to lose weight, you’ve likely asked yourself, “Is rice good for weight loss?” Rice can be a great carbohydrate choice in your weight loss plan, but there are a few important things to consider first.

Rice can be many different colors, including brown, black, red, and white. Each of these varieties have slightly different nutrient profiles that can play a role in your weight loss efforts. So, let’s take a closer look at what rice actually is, the components of whole grain rice, and how these different rice varieties compare to one another.

So, What is Rice?

Rice is a seed from a grass plant. There are many different varieties that are grown around the world. It is a carbohydrate-rich food used in many different cuisines.

Is Rice a Whole Grain?

Rice that hasn’t been processed is considered a whole grain. Whole grains are grains that contain all three parts of the original grain:

  • Bran – hard outer layer that contains fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants
  • Endosperm – middle part of the grain that contains mostly carbohydrate and smaller amounts of protein and some of the vitamins and minerals
  • Germ – the inside part of the grain that contains most of the protein as well as additional B vitamins, minerals, and fat

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that at least half of your grain servings are from whole grains.

How Do the Types of Rice Differ?

A serving of cooked white, red, brown or black rice are close to the same number of calories, but do have slightly different nutrient profiles for protein, fiber, fat, and vitamins and minerals.

You might not be satisfied with only 1 cup of white rice, but you could feel satisfied after 1 cup of black rice. This is mostly due to the differing amounts of fiber and protein in the rice, which also impact how quickly your body is able to digest the carbohydrates. Choosing an option that will help control your hunger is important for your meals.

Fiber, Protein, and Phytonutrients in Rice for Weight Loss

Fiber and protein help to make you feel full, and also have a range of other health benefits. Higher fiber grains can also help improve cholesterol levels, keep you fuller for longer, and promote a healthier gut.

Different colors of rice also provide additional phytonutrients. Typically, each color of plant-based foods contains a variety of phytonutrients – powerful plant compounds – that provide additional health benefits.

How Much Rice Should You Eat for Weight Loss?

So, you may be wondering how much rice is okay for your weight loss goal. At the end of the day, total calories matter, but not all calories are created equal.

For your rice portion size, use the following as a guide:

  • Women: ½ – 1 cup cooked (depending on how much you exercise)
  • Men: 1 – 1½ cups cooked

In addition to the rice, set a goal to fill your plate with colorful vegetables paired with your favorite lean protein.

How to Choose Rice for Weight Loss

Key things to keep in mind for rice to be good for weight loss:

  1. Pay attention to your portions
  2. Go for whole grains
  3. Combine it with veggies and a food rich in protein
  4. Get colorful

Rice Nutrition Content Per 1/4 Cup of Uncooked Rice

The following values are for ¼ cup of uncooked rice, which is equivalent to about ¾ cup of cooked rice. These four types of rice are some of the most popular ones, which is why I chose to compare them for their nutritional values.

Red RiceBlack RiceBrown RiceWhite Rice
Calories160160172169
Protein (g)443.63.3
Fat (g)1.511.30.3
Carbohydrate (g)34343637
Fiber (g)541.60.6
All values from USDA

Is White Rice Good for Weight Loss?

White rice wouldn’t be my first recommendation for weight loss. It is stripped of the bran and the germ, only leaving the endosperm. This strips it of many of the nutrients, including protein and fiber.

You may be wondering – why would companies take out the most important parts of the grain?! It’s done to extend the shelf life. Then, to make up for this, they often enrich the rice to add back nutrients that were removed.

White rice is also slightly lower in fiber. While it isn’t a large amount, it can still make a difference because your body processes it as a simpler and more easily digestible carbohydrate. Because of this, it’s easier to eat more or you might continue eating it because it takes longer to reach fullness.

Is Brown Rice Good for Weight Loss?

Brown rice is a great whole grain if you’re looking for a nutrient-rich option to add to your meals. Because of its fiber and protein composition, it doesn’t increase blood sugar as quickly as white rice. More consistent studies show brown rice is more effective for weight loss.

Black Rice (Forbidden Rice)

Black rice is such a great addition to your meals because of its higher protein and fiber content. Plus, it has anthocyanins that give it it’s dark color. Learn more about why I love black rice so much!

Red Rice

Similar to black rice, this rice is packed with antioxidant-rich properties from anthocyanins. It has a very similar nutrient composition to black rice, and is a great one to experiment with for your meals.

View my delicious red rice and veggie stir fry.

red rice with veggie stir fry
Red Rice and Veggie Stir Fry
View the Recipe

Powerful Anthocyanins in Black and Red Rices

Black rice and red rice have very high amounts of anthocyanins that help with weight loss due to helping with carbohydrate metabolism. The anthocyanins have this effect by reducing the effect of a glucose and insulin spike. They also have powerful antioxidant activity.

It’s also important to note that boiling, steaming and microwaving had no significant effect on the total anthocyanin content.

Is Rice Bad for Weight Loss?

Rice is only bad for weight loss if you aren’t aware of how much you’re consuming. Create pairings of food rich in fiber, fat, and protein so that you don’t just have calorie-dense rice that you can easily overeat without these other foods on your plate.

Whole Grain Rice Recipes

Here is a mix of black rice and brown rice recipes:

Best Rice for Weight Loss

When it comes to the best rice for weight loss, I recommend choose one of the whole grain options for the additional nutrients and fiber. And out of the three (brown, black, and red) I choose black or red rice as the overall winners since they have the most fiber and protein, plus a phytonutrient boost.

If you can’t find black or red rice at the store, order them online! And remember, variety is always key – I encourage you to experiment with all types of whole grain rice.

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