Is Rice Good for Weight Loss?

by | Mar 21, 2022

It is a question many people want to know. Is rice good for weight loss? Is rice fattening? Rice is one of the most widely consumed grains around the globe. Yet, this question is a bit more complex because there are numerous types of rice, and each type is a bit different.

Typical white rice is refined. It’s also a high carbohydrate food. What makes white rice, in particular, less beneficial to weight loss is that most of the fiber is removed from it during the refining process.

White rice, then, is typically not ideal for weight loss. It has a high level of refined carbs that offer very little nutritional value and can contribute to diabetes, obesity, and chronic disease development.

woman measuring her calorie diet and weight gain

However, looking at rice consumption around the world, it’s important to note that other countries that consume a significant amount of rice have low levels of chronic health conditions and obesity. How can that be possible, then?

Different Varieties of Rice

It’s a good idea to learn about some of the varieties of rice and, as such, how each one helps with or limits weight loss. Eating rice can be a good thing depending on the type consumed, the quantity, and the overall use of them.

same amount of white and brown rice on wooden spoons

White rice

The least healthy option in rice is white rice. There are very few minerals, nutrients, or fiber left in white rice. More so, it can be high in calories compared to other types of rice (though overall, it is still a low-calorie food). This type of rice has a high glycemic index. As a result of this, it should not be consumed by those who have glucose intolerance, such as people with type 2 diabetes.

Brown rice

Brown rice has not had the most intense refinement process completed to it. As a result, it has more of the dietary fiber necessary to help aid with weight loss. This type of rice can be filling, which may mean it may limit the amount of other foods consumed. Still, it’s important to use rice in moderation for weight loss goals.

red rice in a pile

Red rice

Another type of rice to consider is red rice. Its deep color comes from anthocyanin, an antioxidant. This particular type of rice is thought to have some ability to aid in weight management. It also has a high level of manganese in it. That helps to strengthen the body’s metabolism, encouraging faster burning of calories as a result. It has more calories than other forms, but only by a small amount. If choosing this type of rice, seek out those that are a darker, richer color for better weight loss benefits.

Black rice

Black rice has a deep, dark color. That is indicative of its rich level of specific antioxidants. Balk rice is unpolished. As a result, it has a wide range of micro-nutrients. These include Vitamin B6, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, and folate. It is a bit higher in calories. The benefit is that it is higher in nutrients, which may help offset some of those extra calories to encourage weight loss.

man burning calories with a kettlebell at the gym

Jasmine rice

Jasmine rice is a type of white rice. Jasmine rice has been processed, and as a result, it has lost many of its nutrients. It also does not contain much fiber, which is also similar to white rice. As a result, jasmine rice isn’t a good option for weight loss.

Wild rice

Wild rice is not an actual type of rice. It is a seed that comes from aquatic grass (which is most like other types of rice). What makes it different, though, is where it grows. It is found in shallow freshwater marshes and typically in streams and lakes.

There are four types, with three varieties coming from the Great Lakes region (all of which are considered grains). Asian varieties are harvested like a vegetable instead. Wild rice has a higher amount of fiber and more protein in it. It has a low level of calories, and its carb count is a bit lower, too.

wild rice in a bowl

Basmati rice

Basmati rice comes from South Asia and India. This type of rice is sold as brown and white rice, depending on the selected variety.

Brown basmati rice is a better option because it is higher in fiber, though it also has a higher calorie level than white basmati rice. It also contains Vitamin E, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Rice Nutrition Facts

It’s quite important to focus on the nutrients of the specific rice you plan to consume. Overall, rice is a low-calorie food.
However, most rice types add extra calories to your diet and may even be high on the glycemic index, making them worrisome for those who have diabetes. Before consuming rice, consider how it may work in a weight loss diet.

Here’s a look at various types of rice. If you are planning on losing weight, eating food that contributes to weight loss is important. Not all of these types will aid weight loss, though.

refined grains growing

Understanding what rice is

To understand the health value of rice, it’s essential to look into what it is. Rice is a type of cereal grain. It’s a staple in many cultural diets and one of the most common grains in the world. White rice is the most common, followed by brown rice.

Rice is a type of grain. Whole grains, which have not gone through the refinement process, have three components.
The first is bran, the harder outer layer that helps protect the seed within. The bran contains minerals and antioxidants that are good for the body and fiber, which helps with weight loss.

rice paddy field

The second component is the germ. This is the core of the rice which has a lot of nutrients within it. It’s where the carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, fat components, and antioxidants of the rice remain.

The final component is the endosperm. This is the largest portion of the whole grain. It is made up mostly of carbs and has just a small amount of protein.

However, white rice has gone through the refinement process. That means that it is no longer an intact whole grain. Brown rice, by comparison, is a whole, intact grain.

That means that brown rice still has the bran and germ. As a result of this, brown rice contains a lot more nutrients and tends to have a large amount of antioxidants and weight-loss-producing fiber.

White rice lacks this. Both the bran and the germ are stripped away during the refinement process. This leads to a removal of virtually all of the highly nutritious components.

Why is this done? The most common reason is that white rice tastes better than brown rice. White rice also lasts longer as it has a much longer shelf life. Additionally, white rice is easier to cook and typically faster to do so as well.

white rice in a pile

White rice has a makeup that is nearly all carbs – and those carbs are starches rather than healthy, whole grain carbs. Molecularly, it contains just long chains of glucose. These are called amylopectin and amylose.

Each type of rice contains different levels of these starches. That’s one of the reasons why the texture, taste, and digestibility of rice changes from one type to the next.

Most often, if cooked rice does not stick together, it is high in amylose. Rice that does stick together has a higher level of amylopectin.

Now that you have this information, let’s consider more about the various types of rice and how they may impact your weight loss.

Rice for Weight Loss

What is the bottom line, then? Can or should you include rice in your diet?

It’s not ideal to eat white rice in any weight loss plan. Because of the carbs in it, it will create blood sugar spikes. By raising your blood sugar, this type of rice may make it harder for your body to use insulin to break down sugars.

Over time, this can lead to weight gain. Also, there is very little protein in rice, which means it is not ideal for growing muscle mass.

If you want to use rice in your diet and lose weight, there are a few things you need to know to do so before you eat rice significantly.

scale to help lose weight

Calorie intake

One of the things to focus on when aiming to lower body weight is to create a calorie deficit. That means that you are burning more calories during the day through activities you engage in than you are taking in. A low-calorie diet means including foods that are naturally lower in calories.

Most types of higher-quality rice are low-calorie foods. Substituting brown or red rice, for example, for high-calorie foods may help you.

Keep in mind that how you cook rice matters. You add a significant number of calories, for example, when preparing fried rice. Instead, boil or steam rice when preparing it.

steaming pot of water on stove

Complex carbohydrates

One of the ways to help support the loss of excess weight is to incorporate more types of complex carbohydrates in your diet. While white varieties do not offer this, whole grain rice, including some brown rice forms, is a more complex carb.

This may help promote weight loss because it helps to keep you full longer. As a result, you may be less likely to eat as often compared to consuming simple carbohydrates. Consider mixed rice, too.

Practice portion control

The key to consuming rice on a diet is to do so with portion control. Restrict the amount of rice consumed to less than one cup. When used as the only carb within the day, rice can be eaten, and you may still lose weight.

hands holding white and brown rice showing portion size

Up the vegetable intake

Another important way to support rice consumption is to pair it with vegetables. When you consume whole grains along with vegetables, you are taking in a large amount of fiber at one time. That helps to clear the digestive system and helps to support weight loss as well. Consider mixing rice with broccoli, beans, or other vegetables.

man and woman eating rice and vegetables as a part of their weight loss diet

Don’t forget the protein

Rice can be a component of your diet. However, protein is an essential element to it and supports weight loss. Including a high level of quality protein, including lean proteins like turkey and chicken, can help support your body’s weight loss goals.

woman cooking rice with protein

Health Benefits of Different Types of Rice

Though often considered a staple carbohydrate in many regions, for some, it may be necessary to quit eating rice, at least white varieties of it.

However, when you eat healthier versions, you end up with some nutrition your body may need, including important vitamins and minerals. Some of the health benefits of rice, then, include:

  • Whole, unrefined rice may help you maintain a healthy weight
  • Brown rice contains a high level of antioxidants which means it may help to fight against chronic disease
  • The complex carbs in whole rice forms help to boost glycogen levels after exercise, helping your body to repair sooner
  • High-fiber rice, such as brown and red rice, have the ability to promote good digestive health
  • The carbs within rice help to support energy levels, which may help with times of high energy needs, including exercise routines
  • Some forms are gluten-free, which means that the rice is an anti-inflammatory food
  • The B vitamins in whole rice, including black, wild, and red rice, help to support brain function and health
  • Rice has minimal calories, which makes it a good option for those who want to use a low-calorie diet to lose weight

It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about the best type of weight loss for you, especially if you have diabetes, heart disease, or a high body mass index (BMI). It may not be beneficial for some people to include this food group at all, especially if your diabetes is not controlled yet.

patient speaking with doctor during an appointment

Is Rice the Right Choice for Your Diet, Then?

Take the time to consider how rice fits into your healthy diet. For most people, it is necessary to change the type of rice consumed. Instead of white rice group varieties, which offer very little nutrition and spikes blood sugar, choose a whole grain form including wild, black, and red varieties. These do taste a bit different, so it may be a change for you.

However, you can include healthy fats, ample types of vegetables, and even various proteins along with it to improve the flavor. Also, cooking it longer (through steaming or boiling) may help to soften it. Add in the spices, too.

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