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Is rice good for weight loss?

Is rice good for weight loss?

Daniel Cheung NowPatientGreen tick
Created on 8 May 2024
Updated on 16 Jul 2024

Rice is a staple food for billions of people globally, but Is rice actually good for weight loss?  This question stems from the Rice Diet of 1939, specifically designed for individuals with heart disease and hypertension. In this article, we will aim to provide you with insights into how and why a balanced diet containing rice can be beneficial for your weight loss goals.

Nutritional profile of rice

As already explained, rice forms a key part of diets worldwide. Let’s start by looking at the nutritional profile of the different varieties of rice; which are brown rice, white rice and red rice. The differences are important because they can help us understand how each variant plays a role in our health.

Brown rice

  • Brown rice is a whole grain with numerous health benefits, as it retains its bran and germ which is rich in fiber. Fiber is essential for good digestive health. Fiber also has a lower glycemic index, which helps to maintain blood sugar levels
  • Brown rice is high in vitamins, such as niacin, and vitamin B6, and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium. These are essential for a variety of bodily functions, such as the production of energy, to helping to defend the immune system
  • Brown rice contains flavonoids and other plant compounds. These chemical compounds support heart, bone, and metabolic health

White rice

  • White rice has less fiber, vitamins, and minerals due to the milling process that removes the bran and germ. However, white rice is often enriched with iron and B vitamins to make up for lost nutrients
  • White rice is ideal for those with digestive problems, as it is easily digested due to its lower fiber content. It is also preferred as a quick energy source post-exercise, due to its high glycemic index

Specialty rices: Red and black varieties

  • Red rice is considered one of the healthiest options because of its high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are excellent at fighting diseases and helping to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Black rice like red rice also supports healthy digestion with its abundant nutrient content. Additionally, it is a great source of protein

Impact of rice type on weight management

  • Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains: Research suggests that whole grains, like brown rice, are better for weight management. They promote better digestion, improve cholesterol levels, and help maintain longer satiety, which can prevent overeating. White rice in contrast has a higher glycemic index, which can lead to blood sugar spikes and potential weight gain if eaten in large quantities
  • Glycemic Index and Weight Gain: The glycemic index (GI) of rice affects how it impacts blood sugar levels. Brown rice has a lower GI compared to white rice, making it a preferable option for those managing their weight or diabetes risk

Portion control and timing

Observing portion control of rice is important if it is part of a weight-loss diet. To aid with a weight loss journey, limiting rice intake to around 1 cup of cooked rice per day, ideally during lunchtime when metabolism is more active, is recommended.

Brown vs. White Rice

Nutritional differences between brown and white rice

  • Nutritional content: Brown rice, overall, is more nutritious, compared to white rice because it contains the bran, germ, and endosperm. White rice is processed to remove the bran and germ. Brown rice is also richer in fiber, antioxidants, and essential minerals, such as magnesium and selenium
  • Glycemic index (GI): Brown rice has a GI value that is significantly lower than that of white rice. Brown rice has a GI of 50, whereas white rice has a GI of 72. Blood sugar levels are better controlled with lower GI foods, making brown rice a preferable option for those monitoring their glucose intake
  • Digestibility and nutrient absorption: White rice, though less nutritious, is often preferred for its ease of digestion and quick source of energy

Health Implications

  • Weight management and diabetes risk: The high fiber content of brown rice contributes to it reducing the risk for heart disease and aiding weight management. White rice can lead to blood sugar spikes due to its higher GI index, possibly increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain, if consumed excessively
  • Heart health and chronic disease: Brown rice contains compounds like flavonoids which protect the heart. These antioxidants help in preventing diseases and maintaining heart health. White rice lacks antioxidants, offering fewer protective benefits against chronic conditions

The role of portion control

Portion control is an important consideration when managing weight and overall health. The Rice Diet, emphasizes the importance of controlling calorie intake for weight loss and health maintenance. Here are some key strategies for portion control.

Portion control techniques

  • A standard serving size for cooked rice is typically 1/2 to 1 cup per person. This amount helps in maintaining energy levels without contributing to calorie excess
  • Use visual aids to gauge serving sizes, for example, a tennis ball for carbohydrates like rice, or a deck of cards for protein portions
  • Visualize your plate in sections. Fill half the plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with carbohydrates, aiding in balanced meals and portion sizes
  • Try to eat without distractions, focusing on the food, and chewing slowly, to better recognize hunger and satiety cues

By integrating these portion control techniques, individuals can enjoy rice as part of a balanced diet, contributing to effective weight management and overall well-being.

How to include rice into a balanced diet

The Rice Diet, initially designed for medical purposes, has evolved into a weight management and lifestyle plan that emphasizes the importance of portion control and balanced nutrition. Here are some key considerations and strategies for including rice in a healthy diet:

  • Choose a mixture of brown and white varieties of rice to benefit from their individual nutritional benefits. Brown rice provides more fiber and nutrients while white rice can be helpful for those needing easier digestion
  • Choose to consume rice alongside a variety of veggies, fruits, and lean proteins. This enhances the meal’s nutritional value and achieves a balanced diet. You can try different types of rice, such as basmati rice, jasmine rice or hearty wild rice, which can add variety to your diet
  • A portion of rice should ideally be about 1 cup, cooked, which aligns with standard dietary recommendations to prevent excessive calorie intake
  • Cook rice without added salt or fat to keep its health benefits and to keep calories down. A useful tip is to use herbs and spices that can improve flavor


Rice consumption in the context of weight loss should focus on the type of rice chosen. Brown, white, or a specialty grain, alongside mindful portion control, plays a crucial role in weight management. By highlighting the distinctions between brown and white rice, you can make informed dietary choices that align with your health goals. When consumed sensibly and as part of a healthy diet, rice can indeed fit into a lifestyle aimed at weight loss or maintenance.


Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information on this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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