Because it's a nutrient-rich food, you may be wondering if rice is good for weight loss. Different types of rice have different nutrients in them. In the right portions, white and brown rice can be incorporated into a weight-loss diet.
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Rice is an easily digested, gluten-free grain that's relatively inexpensive and versatile in recipes. It can be a good choice when you're trying to lose weight.
Brown rice may be a better choice for weight loss than white rice because it has more fiber, a nutrient with anti-obesity benefits, per the Mayo Clinic.
Diets high in refined grains, such as white rice, have been tied to weight gain and metabolic conditions.
Other types of rice, like wild rice and black rice, also have high amounts of fiber and can be part of a weight-loss diet.
Can You Eat Rice for Weight Loss?
Eating rice, or any one food for that matter, in order to lose weight is never a good strategy. To maintain a healthy weight, focus on eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet made up of lean proteins, fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats.
That said, if you're planning your diet around weight loss, rice can be incorporated in your meal plan. Be mindful of your portions when eating rice for weight loss, as rice is high in carbohydrates and the calories can add up no matter which type you choose.
Carbs should make up 45 percent to 65 percent of your total daily calories, which is between 225 and 325 grams per day if you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
White Rice for Weight Loss
White rice has been eaten in cultures all over the world for thousands of years. It comes in short, medium and long grain varieties, including:
- parboiled, or precooked rice
- basmati and jasmine, two types of long-grain rice
- arborio, a type of short-grain rice used in Italian dishes like risotto
All of the white rice varieties have one thing in common: They've been refined in a process that smooths the grain, and in doing so, either the bran or germ or both have been removed. This leaves just the soft endosperm, giving the rice a more tender texture and mild flavor, but also removing nutrients.
According to the USDA, a cup of white rice has 205 calories, 45 grams of carbs, about half a gram of fat and about 4 grams of protein. While white rice can be "enriched" with vitamins and minerals during processing, the fiber content cannot be replaced. For this reason, white rice might not be the best for weight loss.
The main nutrient in rice is carbs, and because there's no fiber in white rice, those carbs are digested and absorbed quickly, causing your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. This is partly why refined grains are less satiating than whole grains and have been associated with weight gain, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Diets high in refined grains have been linked to more abdominal fat, per a November 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This specific kind of fat has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health issues.
To maintain a healthy weight while eating white rice, be sure that at least half of your daily carbs come from whole grains, per the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Brown Rice for Weight Loss
When you're trying to lose weight, you have to be mindful of the amount and quality of the calories you're taking in. Brown rice isn't exactly low in calories, but it can still add nutritional value to a weight-loss diet.
A 1-cup serving of cooked brown rice has 218 calories, 45 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein, per the USDA. Not only that, but brown rice offers high amounts of B vitamins and minerals like manganese, magnesium and copper.
On top of being a nutrient-dense food, brown rice may aid weight loss thanks to the fiber in it. While making multiple lifestyle changes is best for weight loss, just eating more fiber has been linked to healthy changes in weight, according to a February 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
There's also some evidence directing linking brown rice to weight loss. People with type 2 diabetes that switched out white rice for brown rice lost weight and improved their blood pressure in one January 2014 study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.
Another study found that swapping out white rice for brown rice helped improve visceral fat loss, the metabolically active belly fat that surrounds your organs and poses a serious health risk. per results in the January 2014 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition. Interestingly, they also found that switching back to white rice caused people to gain the weight back.
Brown rice is often served plain as a healthy-but-boring side dish — but it can be livened up. Mix your brown rice with lemon juice and basil and mint chiffonade for a more flavorful side, or make a mini grain salad by mixing in a spoonful of cranberries and chopped walnuts, then topping your rice with an orange and balsamic vinaigrette.
Use brown rice as a base for grain bowls, and top it with black beans, toasted corn, red peppers, tomatoes and avocado for a healthy, Mexican-inspired dinner. Add a handful of cooked brown rice to your favorite vegetable soups to infuse them with more complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy.