This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Putting together your weight loss diet can be a challenge. One of the foods that can cause confusion is rice, is it good or bad for weight loss?
There are many kinds of rice. The differences being their color, nutritional value and taste.
Rice is a big part of the local diet in a lot of countries. It’s a relatively cheap source of energy. However, when you’re trying to lose weight more energy is usually not what you’re looking for.
Can the other nutrients in rice make it good for weight loss?
Difference between white rice and brown rice
It’s very important to know that not all rice is the same. You’ve probably already heard of so called “brown rice”.
All rice starts as brown rice. The difference is that in white rice, its husk, bran and germ get removed.
This process increases the time you can keep rice without it going bad. But in return you lose some of the vitamins, minerals and fiber in it.
To compensate for this, manufacturers can add nutrients artificially. This means nutrient contents in white rice can vary from brand to brand.
Because it is close to impossible to examine all different rice brands this investigation of the question “is white rice good for weight loss?” will continue with the nutritional info of cooked long-grain, brown rice.
Micronutrients in rice
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in rice.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of cooked long-grain, brown rice provides you with approximately (1):
- Manganese: 45% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Selenium: 14% of the DV
- Magnesium: 11% of the DV
- Niacin: 8% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
- Thiamin: 6% of the DV
And some other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. Except for manganese these are not the greatest numbers compared to certain other whole grains like for example oats.
Rice isn’t the go-to food if you’re really looking for optimal micronutrient content. There are plenty of other options to get more vitamins and minerals with less volume of food.
That being said, small amounts do add up.
Fiber in rice for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
This is where the big difference is between white rice and brown rice.
Brown rice contains around 1.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
White rice contains around 0.9 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Compared to both there are better sources of fiber but white rice is half the amount of brown rice. That’s a big difference.
Fiber has multiple benefits. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in rice you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a bit.
Does rice help you lose weight?
You still need a final piece of the puzzle. The amount of calories in rice.
111 calories per 100 gram. 94.7 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (23 g per 100 grams of which 1.8 g fiber). White and brown rice come down to about the same net calories.
You might be able to fit them in but rice is not the greatest option for a low carb diet.
The amount of calories in rice is not that high in general. However, compared to foods like fruits and vegetables it looks a little high.
All in all brown rice can be a decent addition to your weight loss diet. Obviously, it’s a better choice than let’s say cookies and other processed foods high in simple carbohydrates. It’s just that you can find most of the benefits from rice in lower calorie foods or more nutrient dense foods.
It’s probably better to stay away from white rice if you’re looking to lose weight.
How much rice should you eat a day to lose weight?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
If you’re looking to achieve a calorie deficit and getting a good amount of micronutrients without feeling too hungry rice, even brown rice, is not the greatest food for your weight loss diet.
If you do decide to eat rice you’ll have to calculate how much fits within your daily calorie goal.
Best time to eat rice to lose weight
The calories in rice are mainly from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates raise insulin. Insulin in turn can mess with the production of sleep hormones. Sleep is important for your weight loss and health.
That’s why you preferably want to consume them earlier in the day or at least not right before bed.
How to prepare rice
Step number one is often to rinse your rice. The next step involves putting an amount of water in a saucepan with a lid. The recommended rice to water ratio varies between 1 (rice) : 1,25 (water) and 1 (rice) : 2 (water). The amount of water to rice varies because of different brands of rice and personal preference.
Add salt and rice to the water once it starts boiling. Let the rice simmer with the lid on the saucepan. The rice will be good at around 18 minutes. When cooking brown rice the cooking time might go up to 30 minutes.
Rice vs other popular foods
Losing weight is not about adding that one magical food to your diet. It’s more about making smart food replacements every day.
It’s useful to know how rice compares to a few other similar foods. That way you can lose more weight just by making a simple choice.
Rice vs quinoa
You do have to keep in mind that quinoa has more fiber per 100 grams (2.8 grams) vs brown rice (1.8 grams).
Finally when you look at vitamins and minerals, quinoa contains slightly more. The extra gram of fiber most likely outweighs the tiny calorie difference. Quinoa is most likely better for weight loss than rice.
Rice vs potatoes
The amount of fiber in potatoes is about the same as brown rice, 1.8 grams per 100 grams.
Finally the amount of vitamins and minerals is very slightly higher in brown rice in terms of percentages of the Daily Value. The thing is that they differ in vitamins and minerals. Since you need many different micronutrients you might benefit from having both foods once in a while.
If you had to pick one of the two for losing weight, potatoes would most likely be the best pick.
Rice vs oatmeal
Oats are not completely the same but often people wonder about this difference anyway. Dry oats contain about 389 calories per 100 grams (4). That’s a considerable amount higher than the 111 calories per 100 grams of brown rice.
Part of this is because of the amount of fiber. Dry oats contain around 10.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams vs the 1.8 grams of brown rice. Oats are also a lot higher in vitamins and minerals.
It’s not entirely clear how these differences in values impact weight loss. The big amount of fiber might stop you from eating any other foods.
Rice vs pasta and bread
You might also wonder how rice holds up against pasta and bread. The problem with these last 2 foods is that there are so many different versions.
It’s too hard to give one clear answer with all the kinds of bread and pasta around. There are both breads that are healthier than brown rice and breads that are unhealthier. The same goes for pasta.
Chart of brown rice vs other popular foods
Besides taste, potatoes are most likely the best weight loss food of these comparisons. Here is a chart to get a quick overview.
The amount of vitamins and minerals in the foods does matter for weight loss and health but you can’t simplify that in one number. You can check out the numbers for brown rice (1), quinoa (2), potatoes (3), and oats (4) to compare.
|Values per 100g||Brown Rice (Boiled)||Quinoa (Boiled)||Potatoes (Boiled)||Oats (Dry)|
|Calories||111 calories||120 calories||87 calories||389 calories|
|Fiber||1.8 g||2.8 g||1.8 g||10.6 g|
Different ways to eat rice for weight loss
Like with most whole foods there is a wide variety of ways to eat apples. Not all of these options are as great for weight loss. If you know the difference you can are better able to make the right choices for your physical goals.
Rice cakes and rice crackers
Rice cakes are made similar to popcorn. Rice gets heated until it expands. After that, the popped rice gets bonded into a cake.
By heating rice up that much you remove components like water which is helpful for losing weight. This also makes rice cakes a lot higher in calories per 100 grams, about 392 calories (5). And that’s without any sweeteners.
Rice crackers are made similar to regular crackers but with rice as the main ingredient. The nutrient contents are similar to rice cakes (6).
There are worse things for losing weight than rice cakes and rice crackers but there are also a lot of foods that are better.
Rice can go through a process to become rice noodles. The amount of calories is about the same as brown rice (6). On the other hand rice noodles do have less fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Rice noodles are ok for weight loss but regular brown rice is better.
Lastly there is rice pudding. This dish is made from rice mixed with ingredients like water and milk. Often people also add sweeteners and sometimes eggs and butter.
Rice pudding without any ingredients besides water or milk can be good for losing weight (7). The more sugar and butter you add to it the less healthy it becomes.
Best way to eat rice for weight loss
The best way to eat rice for weight loss is just boiled. Rice pudding is alright too, depending on how much butter and sweeteners you add. Rice noodles can be decent too, just not as good as regular brown rice.
Rice cakes, rice crackers are not that great for losing weight. It’s easy to find better snacks for weight loss.
How can rice help you lose weight?
If you have to choose between brown and white rice for weight loss, brown rice is the best option. It contains about double the amount of fiber. Fiber is extremely helpful for weight loss.
Brow rice can benefit weight loss by helping you feel fuller without adding too many calories to your diet. It also provides you with a alright amount of vitamins and minerals.
All in all, even brown rice is decent for weight loss. It’s not that great compared to certain other healthy carbs, vegetables and fruit. It might be possible to gain weight from brown rice if you don’t watch your portions but chances are you will feel too full to eat before that happens.