Did you know there are 19 different kinds of rice!
Brown, black, red, white, long grain, jasmine white, jasmine brown, and the list goes on.
And, with varieties as diverse as that, it’s no wonder rice is the most widely consumed grain in the world.
But, grains often get a bad rap when it comes to dieting and weight loss.
Why? Well, I suppose it’s because of the often dreaded c-word…you know…carbs. (Though, I’m sure you know by now, all carbs aren’t bad, and all carbs are not the same.)
Rice, being a carbohydrate, is often considered to be “bad” when it comes to weight loss. In fact, some say you should nix this grain altogether if you’re trying to shed some pounds.
On the other hand, some studies actually purport the use of rice for weight loss.
So, which is it, is rice good or bad for weight loss?
Let’s explore this widely consumed grain and let you decide…
The 411 On Rice
Simply put, rice is a grain, and all whole grains are made up of three main parts: bran, germ, and endosperm.
The bran, rich in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, is the hard, outer layer. It protects the inner layer, or the seed.
The germ, or the core, is where all the nutrients are found: carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and more antioxidants.
Lastly, the endosperm is the biggest part, primarily made up of carbohydrates, with just a smidge of protein.
That all sounds good and healthy, right? So then, why does rice often get classified as a no-no when it comes to weight loss?
The problem may lie in the fact that this verdict often comes down on rice as a whole, without consideration to variety or even portion size.
But, as we said earlier, all carbs are not the same…and all rice is not the same.
While brown rice would be considered an “intact whole grain,” white rice has been stripped of both the bran and the germ, basically removing the most nutritious parts of the grain.
This process alone would allow for an obvious observation concluding white rice (entirely made of carbs in the form of starch) to be a less healthy choice than brown rice.
But, frankly, there’s more to it than that…
Noting above that white rice is stripped of most all nutritional value, leaving it a pure starch, and thus ranking high on the glycemic index as your body digests it quickly, even this type of rice may not hinder your weight loss efforts, as some may think.
While it is true that many studies have shown that diets high in refined carbohydrates (like white rice) have been linked to obesity, other studies link white rice with weight loss.
This rice variety’s connection to weight loss exists mostly in those countries where it is considered a daily dietary staple. But, in such areas, white rice has been specifically associated with a reduced risk of weight gain.
Truly, the key with white rice may just lie in portion size.
Most all rice varieties have the same caloric value, but not all types contain the same nutritional value.
White rice, in moderation, may not lead to weight gain, but considering its lack of nutritional value, equal servings of white rice and another variety will result in differing levels of satiety.
In other words, white rice simply won’t fill you up the way other kinds of rice will. And, this can be a problem when attempting to lose weight, which is why many nutrition experts suggest brown rice as a healthier alternative.
Brown rice, containing all of the nutrients listed in the above descriptions of this whole grain, offers a more filling choice.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that people whose diets contain whole grains typically weigh less than those who don’t eat them.
Generally speaking, foods high in fiber, like most rice varieties other than white, make you feel fuller, which results in you eating less. This, of course, is a great aid when losing weight.
Another bonus? Foods high in fiber also are thought to boost metabolism which is also a win for weight loss.
One study taking place over a span of 12 years, showed that women who ate the highest amounts of dietary fiber from whole grains lowered their risk of weight gain by 50%.
Specifically choosing brown rice over white rice has also been thought to both lead to weight loss and better levels of blood fat.
And, since when attempting to lose weight, your overall food (or caloric) intake is generally reduced, so it is also very important to get the most bang for your nutritional buck with the foods you do consume.
Brown rice (versus white rice) contains the vitamins and minerals your body needs as you lose weight.
Other Rice Varieties
We mentioned initially that there were 19 varieties of rice. So, clearly white and brown rice only scratch the surface when it comes to this grain.
Ultimately, of those 19 varieties, many can be categorized as white rice.
However, the other varieties closely mimic the effects of brown rice on weight as they too contain the outer layer of grain, have more fiber, are unprocessed, and are loaded with needed vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Long grain whole grain rice, though the husk is removed in the milling process, still contains the outer bran layer, leaving all the essential nutrients and making it a filling whole grain choice.
Red rice contains a powerful antioxidant that has been linked with weight loss as well as a healthy dose of manganese which is known to boost metabolism.
Black rice, due to its overly dark color, contains even more antioxidants than red or brown rice. Many consume it mixed with another type of rice, but this variety alone contains beneficial micronutrients like zinc, vitamin B6, and folate.
We’ve given some info on the nutrient profiles of many rice varieties, but as the benefit or detriment of rice in regards to your waistline primarily boils down to portion and satiety, here’s a quick caloric rundown on the most popular kinds:
White rice- 150 calories in approximately ½ cup
Brown rice- 111 calories in approximately ½ cup
Long grain whole grain rice- 108 calories in approximately ½ cup
Red rice- 108 calories in approximately ½ cup
Black rice- 160 calories in approximately ½ cup
The bottom line, rice can be a good whole grain choice, containing a variety of needed vitamins and minerals.
You can pair it with protein and vegetables for a balanced meal. And, if you soak and wash it prior to cooking, you can even reduce its overall starch content.
And, as with anything, especially concerning weight loss, moderation is key!
MD: Do this immediately if you have diabetes
Here’s the dirty little secret about diabetes your doctor will NEVER tell you. Read this story to find out more.