This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Choosing what foods to eat when trying to lose weight can be challenging. Find out whether rice is good for weight loss or fattening.
The first thing to note is that there are many different types of rice. Some will be better for losing weight than others.
For example, brown rice can be decent for weight loss in the sense that it contains some amount of fiber and is not that high in calories.
On the other side, white rice contains a good amount less fiber percentage-wise. You can still eat this and lose weight but it is not as good as brown rice.
All in all, there are both foods that are worse and better for weight loss than rice. Generally speaking, many people want to consider other foods if this is their main goal.
At the same time, how much you like your diet matters too. If rice helps you stay consistent with your eating plan, it could be worth considering in reasonable amounts.
Difference between white rice and brown rice
As briefly mentioned, not all rice is the same. A big distinction you can make is white rice vs brown rice.
All rice starts as “brown” rice. The way this becomes white rice is by removing its husk, bran, and germ.
One of the benefits of doing this is that you can keep white rice for longer without it going bad. In return, you lose the valuable vitamins, minerals, and fiber from the husk, bran, and germ which can be helpful for weight loss.
Some brands add nutrients to white rice in an artificial way to compensate for this to some extent (but generally not completely).
This in combination with the presence of different rice varieties makes it so not all options you can get are equally useful for losing weight.
The rest of this article will mainly focus on cooked long-grain brown rice and its nutrients.
Micronutrients in rice
The bigger nutrients like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are important for weight loss but looking at the smaller micronutrients in rice can sometimes be helpful too.
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals which are important for your health and typically play roles in the weight loss process too.
100 grams of cooked long-grain brown rice provides you with the following micronutrients (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.
The vitamins and minerals in rice are welcome but at the same time, not that impressive compared to many alternatives.
If you really lack micronutrients, there are plenty of food options that will be more useful than rice. These other foods can even be more helpful for losing weight too.
Fiber in rice for weight loss
When finding out whether the type of rice you have in mind is helpful for weight loss or not, you definitely want to find out how much fiber it contains.
Fiber is a category of nutrients that offers a few benefits for this health goal.
First of all, fiber helps you will fuller without really adding any amount of absorbable calories. This tends to be helpful because so many people struggle with hunger and cravings while losing weight.
Additionally, fiber tends to be beneficial for your gut health and microbiome. These tend to influence your health and more specifically weight loss.
The differences in fiber between white rice and brown rice tend to be relevant when it comes to losing weight.
One example of cooked long-grain brown rice contains around 1.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
The same variety but the white rice version contains around 0.9 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Both examples are not that high in fiber compared to many other options. At the same time, the almost gram of fiber (100% difference) can be enough to consider brown rice.
Differences aside, the fiber in rice is better than nothing when losing weight but the values are not impressive either.
Does rice help you lose weight?
Before deciding whether rice is good for weight loss or not you still need to know how many calories it contains. The type of calories matters too but the number itself can offer some information too.
100 grams of cooked long-grain brown rice contains around 111 calories per 100 grams. The examples of white and brown rice come down to about the same net calories.
The number of calories in rice is reasonable but food categories like fruits and vegetables tend to contain smaller amounts.
94.7 of the calories from the brown rice come from carbohydrates (23 g per 100 grams of which 1.8 g fiber). This makes (brown) rice generally not good for low-carb diets like keto.
The result of these things is that (brown) rice can be a good replacement for many foods that are less helpful for losing weight.
At the same time, you may find it too easy to overeat on rice and actually gain weight.
Something else to keep in mind is that just adding foods like rice and making no other changes tends to make you gain weight. Even if the food is considered to be more weight-loss-friendly.
If you do decide to eat rice while trying to lose weight, the brown ones tend to be the smarter choices.
How much rice should you eat a day to lose weight?
After discovering too much rice can be fattening you may wonder how much you should eat a day when trying to lose weight.
Unfortunately, it is hard to make any general statements about this. Details like your weight, the other foods you eat, and your other lifestyle habits influence this a lot.
You can start by estimating how many calories you need per day to lose weight, how many calories the other foods in your diet contain, and tracking your results.
If you don’t lose any weight, you will have to change what foods you eat, how many calories you eat, and/or other lifestyle habits to start seeing results.
Best time to eat rice to lose weight
Health and losing weight are not only about what you eat. At what time you eat rice can influence your results a lot.
Until the influence of macronutrient timing on these health goals is better understood, the main thing to keep in mind is to avoid eating big meals too close to bedtime.
This can mess up your sleep quality and/or duration. These things play roles in your weight loss and health.
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 ratio 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
How good a certain type is for weight loss also depends on how effective the alternatives are.
You may like certain food options that are more helpful for losing weight just as much as rice. In that case, you can see more results by making a smarter choice.
Rice vs quinoa
Many people are interested in how rice and quinoa compare in a variety of areas.
First of all, the example brown rice has a slightly lower number of calories per 100 grams (111 calories) than quinoa (120 calories) (2).
On the other hand, quinoa has more fiber per 100 grams (2.8 grams) than brown rice (1.8 grams).
When it comes to the vitamins and minerals in these foods, you can say that quinoa contains slightly higher amounts.
The extra gram of fiber most likely outweighs the tiny calorie difference. This means quinoa is most likely better for weight loss than rice by a small amount.
Rice vs potatoes
Potatoes are another popular source of healthy carbs. They are a decent amount lower in calories (87 calories/ 100 grams) than brown rice (3).
In terms of fiber content, potatoes are similar to rice which means they contain around 1.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Next, brown rice is slightly higher than potatoes in terms of overall vitamins and minerals in terms of percentages of the Daily Value.
That being said, these foods shine out in different micronutrients. It may be smart to implement both options because of this.
In short, potatoes are typically slightly better for losing weight than rice.
Rice vs oatmeal
Oatmeal is another popular weight loss food option. Dry oats contain about 389 calories per 100 grams (4).
That is a lot higher than the 111 calories per 100 grams of brown rice.
One thing to keep in mind is that these calories also include 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 is hard to predict exactly how the differences in fiber and calories between rice and oatmeal will influence weight loss. This could potentially depend on the person.
For example, if you really struggle with hunger, the fiber in oats could be important. On the other hand, the difference in calories is relatively big too.
Rice vs pasta and bread
You might also wonder how rice holds up against pasta and bread. The problem with these last two foods is that there are so many different brands, versions, and recipes.
Because of this, it is hard to give one answer that always holds.
Bread and pasta tend to be more processed which is generally not helpful for losing weight.
At the same time, there are definitely whole-grain versions of these food categories too. These tend to be decent for weight loss.
Chart of brown rice vs other popular foods
Personal taste preferences aside, potatoes are likely the most helpful option for weight loss from all the examples above.
The chart below offers you a quick overview.
How many vitamins and minerals these foods contain also influences health and weight loss but this information is a bit too detailed for a chart.
|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
Something else to keep in mind is that you can eat rice in many different ways. Some of these will be more helpful for weight loss than others.
Taste matters too but you may prefer the more weight-loss-friendly preparation methods anyway.
Rice cakes and rice crackers
You make rice cakes in a similar way as popcorn. This means heating the rice until it expands. After that, you bond the popped rice gets into a cake.
By heating up rice you reduce the amount of water it contains. This makes rice cakes a lot higher in calories per 100 grams, about 392 calories, and less helpful for losing weight (5).
And that is without considering that there are brands that add sugar and other sweeteners to their products.
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 this fitness goal but rice cracked and rice cakes are typically not good for weight loss.
You can put rice through a process to get rice noodles. The number of calories in one example of these is about the same as brown rice (6).
On the other hand, rice noodles do have less fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Rice noodles can be ok for weight loss but regular brown rice tends to be better.
You make rice pudding by mixing rice with ingredients like water and milk. People also often add sweeteners and sometimes eggs and butter.
Rice pudding that only includes ingredients like water or milk can be good for losing weight (7). The more sugar and butter you add to it, the more fattening the rice pudding becomes
Best way to eat rice for weight loss
If you only look at the nutrition details, the best way to eat rice for weight loss is just boiled.
Other preparation methods like rice pudding can be good too depending on how much butter and sweeteners you add.
Even if they are not as good as the regular boiled version, rice noodles can be decent for losing weight too.
Rice cakes and crackers are typically not that good for losing weight. In any case, there are better snacks for this health goal.
How can rice help you lose weight?
Rice could help you feel fuller without adding crazy amounts of calories to your diet. In turn, you may eat less of other foods that are more suboptimal for weight loss and lose weight.
You could also consciously replace less weight-loss-friendly foods with rice to lose weight.
On the other hand, you want to keep in mind that just adding rice on top of your current diet without other changes will likely make you gain weight.
It is possible to overeat rice. Especially the white versions.
Something else to keep in mind is that other healthy carbs like vegetables and fruit and other food categories can be more helpful for weight loss too.