Will Cutting White Rice Help with Weight Loss?

Are you ready to stop eating rice to lose a few pounds? Along with maize and wheat, this is one of the popular foods in the world. More than 40,000 varieties exist, including brown, black, red and white rice. The latter, though, has its fiber and several key nutrients removed during processing. If you're trying to slim down, removing white rice from your diet might help.

If you want to lose some weight, it might be good to remove white rice from your diet. (Image: Hiromi Kudo/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Removing white rice from your diet will help you lose weight only if you stay in a calorie deficit. This grain, however, may increase your risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.

Brown rice is a healthier choice. Rich in fiber, it keeps you full longer and increases satiety.

The Skinny on Rice

Rice is one of the oldest foods on earth. Each country has its own rice specialties, such as sweet rice in Portugal and paella in Spain. Jasmine rice, basmati rice, wild rice, carnaroli, arborio and Japonice rice are among the most popular varieties. These differ in size, color, flavor and other characteristics.

It's not uncommon for dieters to avoid eating rice to reduce weight. Although most types of rice have a similar caloric value, their nutritional content varies, for example:

  • Long-grain white rice (cooked) — 205 calories, 44.5 grams of carbs, 4.2 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of fat and 0.6 grams of fiber per cup (one serving)
  • Medium-grain brown rice (cooked) — 218 calories, 45.8 grams of carbs, 4.5 grams of protein, 1.6 grams of fat and 3.5 grams of fiber per cup
  • Wild rice (cooked) — 166 calories, 35 grams of carbs, 6.5 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber per cup
  • Glutinous white rice (cooked) — 169 calories, 3.5 grams of protein, 36.7 grams of carbs, 0.3 grams of fat and 1.7 grams of fiber

As you see, white rice isn't necessarily the highest in calories and carbs. It does, however, contain fewer nutrients than unrefined varieties.

One cup of white rice provides 0.7 milligrams of zinc, 55 milligrams of potassium, 19 milligrams of magnesium and 16 milligrams of calcium. The same amount of brown rice, by comparison, boasts 1.2 milligrams of zinc, 154 milligrams of potassium, 86 milligrams of magnesium and 20 milligrams of calcium.

When white rice is processed, manufacturers remove the embryo and bran layers, which contain fiber and minerals. This reduces its nutritional value as well as its impact on blood sugar levels. Dietary fiber slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and improves glycemic control. It also regulates digestion and may help reduce cholesterol levels.

Should You Stop Eating Rice?

Not eating rice for a month or two won't necessarily help you get leaner. It's your overall diet that matters. In order to lose 1 pound of fat, you must burn 3,500 calories. Rice is fairly low in calories compared to other foods, so you can enjoy it in moderate amounts without packing on pounds.

Ideally, choose brown or wild rice over refined varieties. The fiber in brown rice will keep you full longer and suppress appetite, making dieting easier.

According to a recent study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism in May 2019, high white rice consumption promotes weight gain, while brown rice has a negligible impact on body weight. Subjects who consumed large amounts of white rice regularly gained more than 6.6 pounds over the course of a year, while the brown/multi-grain rice group did not experience this effect.

Most studies on rice consumption are conflicting, though. A February 2017 meta-analysis featured in the journal Public Health Nutrition has linked white rice consumption to lower mortality rates in men. Surprisingly, this grain may increase the risk of chronic diseases in women. Another study, which appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January 2015 has not found any link between white or brown rice and heart disease risk in men and women.

When consumed in moderation, white rice is unlikely to cause weight gain. However, whole varieties are healthier due to their high fiber content. Refined grains, including white rice, are associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. A February 2015 study featured in the British Journal of Nutrition indicates that white rice consumption may contribute to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome in teenage girls.

Brown Rice Promotes Weight Loss

At first glance, brown rice isn't too different from its white counterpart. It's actually higher in calories and carbs. What makes it stand out is its nutritional value. The fiber in brown rice may aid in weight loss by increasing satiety.

A study conducted on 1,100 subjects and published in the Journal of Obesity and Chronic Diseases in April 2018 assessed the effects of several rice varieties on body weight. Brown rice has been shown to prevent obesity, reduce body weight and promote healthy bowel movements. Dieters who consumed this type of rice had a lower body mass index (BMI) and lost significantly more weight compared to the other groups.

It's not necessary to stop eating rice to slim down. The key is to enjoy it in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Plus, brown rice is more nutritious than white pasta, white bread and processed foods. In addition to fiber, it provides high doses of selenium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and B-complex vitamins.

Manganese, for example, supports bone development, wound healing and enzyme production. Low levels of this mineral may contribute to diabetes and osteoporosis, even though more research is needed to confirm these claims. The daily recommended intake is 1.8 milligrams for women and 2.3 milligrams for men. Brown rice delivers about 88 percent of the daily value of manganese.

This grain is also a good source of phosphorus, a mineral that contributes to energy production and regulates your body's pH levels. Every cell and tissue in your body needs this nutrient to function optimally. Phosphorus deficiency can affect bone health, appetite, energy levels and immune function. One serving of cooked brown rice provides 150 milligrams of this mineral, which is 4.6 percent of the daily recommended intake for adults.

Not eating rice for a month will lead to weight loss only if you're in a calorie deficit. However, there are other foods you can remove from your diet to reduce your calorie intake. Fries, sugary treats, soft drinks, white bread, deli meats and flavored yogurt are just a few examples.

These products are higher in calories and have little or no nutritional value. Brown rice, on the other hand, is packed with vitamins and minerals and fills you up quickly due to its high fiber content.

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