Is Quinoa Good For Weight Loss? (Better Than Rice?)

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This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT

Certain foods like quinoa are becoming more popular. Find out whether this specific food option is good for weight loss or not.

Due to its reasonable number of calories and decent amount of fiber, you can say that quinoa is reasonably good for weight loss.

At the same time, just adding quinoa to your current routine without making any other changes can lead to weight gain.

Additionally, there are foods that are more helpful than quinoa for losing weight too.

Micronutrients in quinoa

Types of calories like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates definitely play an important role while trying to lose weight. At the same time, it can be helpful to take a look at the amounts of micronutrients in foods like quinoa.

As their name implies, micronutrients are smaller types of nutrients which include vitamins and minerals.

These nutrients play a role in areas of your health like weight loss.

100 grams of cooked quinoa contains the following amounts of nutrients (1):

  • Manganese: 32% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Magnesium: 16% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 15% of the DV
  • Folate: 10% of the DV
  • Iron: 8% of the DV
  • Thiamin: 7% of the DV
  • Zinc: 7% of the DV

And a few other micronutrients in smaller amounts.

Quinoa does not contain the most impressive amounts of vitamins and minerals but small amounts do add up. Especially if you consume other nutritious foods too.

There are also other micronutrients like antioxidants in quinoa. For now, science does not perfectly know the impact of these on your health and weight loss.

quinoa nutrition for weight loss

Fiber in quinoa for weight loss

When it comes to plant-based foods like quinoa, the amount of fiber per 100 grams influences how weight-loss-friendly the example is.

The first reason for this is that fiber helps you feel fuller without really adding any absorbable calories to your diet.

Many people fail to stick to their weight loss eating plans because of hunger and cravings. Fiber can help reduce these.

Besides that, fiber also tends to be beneficial for your gut health and microbiome. These things seem to play a role in health goals like losing weight.

That aside, 100 grams of quinoa contains around 2.8 grams of fiber.

There are foods with more fiber but at the same time, you can say that quinoa contains this nutrient in above-average amounts.

The fiber in quinoa can help reduce your hunger and improve your weight loss and health in other ways.

Protein in quinoa for weight loss

Most people instantly think about animal meat and fish when they hear the word protein. And while these food categories are indeed high in protein, foods like quinoa also contain this nutrient to some extent.

More specifically, cooked quinoa contains about 4.4 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, salmon contains around 25.4 grams per 100 grams (2).

So 4.4 grams of protein is definitely not too impressive but it still helps with weight loss to some extent.

Protein is generally the most filling type of calorie.

Another benefit of this nutrient is that it helps you build and preserve muscle mass.

Muscle mass helps you burn more calories throughout the day so these things tend to be good for weight loss and health.

Additionally, your body tends to burn more calories while processing proteins compared to processing calories from carbs and fats.

Something else to note about quinoa is that its protein content tends to be considered “complete”. This means that it contains all essential amino acids.

This “complete” label is not necessarily important if you eat a balanced diet but can be important for certain individuals.

All in all, the amount of protein in quinoa is helpful for weight loss to some extent. However, you will need to eat other foods too to get sufficient amounts of this nutrient.

Will quinoa help you lose weight?

Next, you need to know about the total amount of calories in cooked quinoa.

The example quinoa contains around 120 calories per 100 grams.

Food categories like vegetables and fruits tend to contain fewer calories. Additionally, there are better whole grains for weight loss.

At the same time, the number of calories in quinoa is still relatively low compared to many other food options.

85.1 of the calories above come from carbohydrates (21.3 g per 100 grams of which 2.8 g fiber). This makes quinoa suboptimal for low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet.

Overall, you can say that quinoa tends to be good for weight loss.

Consuming more of this food can help you feel fuller without adding that many calories to your diet. This can help you avoid eating too much of foods that are bad for weight loss.

Additionally, you can swap foods that are worse for weight loss with quinoa to see results.

On the other hand, you need to keep in mind that you still have to make these changes. Just eating more quinoa on top of your regular routine will likely lead to weight gain instead.

Will quinoa help you lose weight

Is it OK to eat quinoa every day?

Some people wonder if it is OK to eat quinoa every day. To my knowledge, there is no reason why this would not be OK.

One thing you can say is that it is typically healthier to eat a variety of different foods. This helps you consume enough of different nutrients.

Is it good to eat quinoa at night?

You generally want to avoid eating too close to bedtime. Digesting foods like quinoa tends to reduce sleep quality.

In turn, worse sleep tends to be bad for weight loss and health.

Additionally, carbohydrate-rich foods tend to spike your blood sugar to a lesser extent earlier in the day. This can be useful for health and hunger.

How to cook quinoa

The first step depends on the brand of quinoa you buy. Unprocessed quinoa has a bitter layer around it. If the quinoa you have is not rinsed, you can quickly do that yourself for a better taste.

A common quinoa-to-water ratio is 1 part uncooked quinoa to 2 parts water. You can make the portion as big as you want.

Once you have measured out both you can combine the water and quinoa in a saucepan. First, you bring the mixture to boil over a medium to high heat.

After that, you can decrease the heat a bit and let it simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water, the cooking time will be about 10-20 minutes. In general, the more you have the longer it will take.

Then you can take the pot off the heat. You can let it sit for a few minutes, add some salt and you’re good to go.

How to cook quinoa

Quinoa vs similar dishes for weight loss

The nutrients in quinoa itself are not the only thing that matters when it comes to weight loss. How these compare to other food options matters too.

Find out how quinoa compares to (brown) rice, oatmeal, and couscous for people who are trying to lose weight.

Quinoa vs brown rice

Many people are interested in comparing quinoa and white and brown rice for weight loss.

In terms of calories, brown rice tends to be a bit better per 100 grams (9 calories lower).

That being said, when it comes to other nutrients, quinoa tends to be better. It has more fiber (2.8 grams) than brown rice (1.8 grams) per 100 grams (3).

Quinoa also has slightly more protein (4.4 grams) than brown rice (2.6 grams).

These things mean quinoa will leave you fuller for longer than brown rice. This is a big point for people who struggle with hunger.

Quinoa contains slightly bigger amounts of vitamins and minerals in terms of daily value percentages.

That being said, quinoa and rice tend to be high in different nutrients which means it could be helpful to implement both into your diet.

In short, quinoa should be slightly better than rice for weight loss but only by a tiny margin. It might be good to eat both from time to time.

Quinoa vs brown rice

Quinoa vs oatmeal

Raw oats are a lot higher in calories than quinoa with 389 calories vs 120 calories per 100 grams (4). You do want to keep in mind that most people eat oats in combination with ingredients like water or milk.

The same raw oats also tend to contain more vitamins, minerals, protein (16.9 grams), and fiber (10.6 grams) than cooked quinoa

It’s hard to say whether quinoa or oatmeal is better for weight loss.

The number of calories in quinoa is a lot lower but protein and fiber help you feel a lot fuller and are helpful in other areas of weight loss.

Quinoa vs couscous

Couscous is slightly lower in gross calories (8 calories lower per 100 grams) (5). The thing is that this dish is also lower in fiber (1.4 grams vs the 2.8 grams of quinoa).

So the net calories are about the same since fiber doesn’t get absorbed as regular calories.

The protein levels from these two dishes are very close too. Couscous contains around 3.8 grams of protein per 100 grams vs the 4.4 grams in quinoa.

Quinoa is richer in vitamins and minerals than couscous. All things considered, quinoa is likely slightly better for weight loss than couscous.

Comparison chart

The chart below can help you choose between all the foods mentioned when trying to lose weight.

Vitamins and minerals in food still matter for weight loss and health but these details are harder to condense into a small chart.

You can check out the amounts of vitamins and minerals in quinoa (1), brown rice (3), oats (4), and couscous (5) to compare.

Values per 100gQuinoa (Boiled)Brown Rice (Boiled)Oatmeal (Dry)Couscous (Boiled)
Calories120 calories111 calories389 calories112 calories
Fiber2.8 g1.8 g10.6 g1.4 g
Protein4.4 g2.6 g16.9 g3.8 g
Popular quinoa comparisons chart

What is the best way to eat quinoa for weight loss?

Similar to many other foods, the best way to eat quinoa is as close to its whole form as possible.

In simpler words, you preferably just want to cook quinoa and potentially add it to a healthy smoothie.

The cooked quinoa can be a base of a salad with vegetables to add some taste and nutrients.

When trying to lose weight, you typically want to avoid foods like quinoa flour, quinoa cake, and quinoa bread.

Can you use quinoa to lose weight?

Whether you can use quinoa to lose weight effectively depends on details like the rest of your diet, your body, and your other lifestyle habits.

That being said, many people will be able to lose weight with the help of quinoa.

Its protein and fiber can help you feel fuller without adding that many calories to your diet. This can help you avoid foods that are suboptimal for losing weight.

You do want to keep in mind that the rest of your diet and lifestyle habits stay important when it comes to losing weight and being healthy.

There are not many cases where one food is the single cause of weight loss or gain.

Lastly, some people have a quinoa allergy. These individuals want to stay away from this food option.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.