Is Rice Good for Weight Loss?

Jenna Hilton
January 18, 2023

Over half the world’s population consumes rice as a staple food. In Asian countries, which produce around 90% of rice, it forms the basis of almost every meal.

As such a widely consumed cereal, the question arises whether rice contributes to weight loss or causes weight gain.

This article explains the nutritional value of rice, looks different rice varieties, and recommends the best way to eat rice to achieve and maintain optimal weight.

Rice for weight loss

Rice Nutrition Facts

The nutritional value of rice depends on the way it has been processed and which parts of the grain have been removed.

Like all cereals, a grain of rice has three components:

  • Bran – The outer layer of the grain; rich in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids; gives whole rice its distinctive color (brown, red, black, etc.).
  • Endosperm – The middle part of the grain; composed of carbohydrates and protein.
  • Germ – The core of the grain; nutritionally the richest; contains vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, fatty acids, and protein.

White or refined rice is rice that has had the bran and germ removed. Rice that still has these two nutritionally valuable parts is whole or brown rice. While both white and brown rice have the same amounts of calories and carbohydrates, unenriched white rice has significantly smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Below is a table that compares the nutritional value per 100 grams (3.5 oz) of brown and white rice:

White (long grain) riceBrown (long-grain) rice
B1 (thiamine)0.07 mg (milligrams)0.401 mg
B2 (riboflavin)0.049 mg0.093 mg
B3 (niacin)1.6 mg5.091 mg
B5 (pantothenic acid)1.014 mg1.493 mg
B60.164 mg0.509 mg
B9 (folate)8 μg (micrograms)20 μg
Calcium28 mg23 mg
Iron0.8 mg1.47 mg
Magnesium25 mg143 mg
Manganese1.088 mg3.743 mg
Phosphorus115 mg333 mg
Potassium115 mg223 mg
Selenium15.1 μg23.4 μg
Sodium7 mg7 mg
Zinc1.09 mg2.02 mg

Source: FoodData Central (


Rice contains carbohydrates in two forms: starch and fiber.


Starch is a complex carbohydrate that is made up of long chains of glucose. When we eat, the starch in rice is converted into sugar, providing energy to cells. With refined rice, which has been stripped of fiber and other nutrients, this process occurs quickly and causes a rapid blood sugar spike (high glycemic index).

Rice contains two types of starch, amylose and amylopectin. Differing levels of these two starches determine whether the grains will remain separate or stick after cooking. Rice with high amylose levels (such as basmati rice) takes longer to digest and has a lower glycemic index, which is especially beneficial for people who need to watch their blood sugar levels.


Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is essential for overall health and weight management. Fiber takes up space in the stomach and intestine and slows down digestion. This contributes to a longer feeling of fullness, helping with portion control, and eliminating snacking.

By slowing down digestion, fiber regulates the release of glucose from food, preventing sudden sugar spikes and stabilizing levels in the blood. It also lowers the amount of fat and cholesterol that is absorbed from the food we eat. This has a positive effect on health and helps prevent conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Fiber is also essential for gut health because healthy bacteria in our stomach and intestine feed on it. A healthy gut improves the immune response and fights inflammation. Fiber also prevents constipation by speeding up the processing and elimination of waste.

Vitamins and Minerals

Whole grain rice contains B complex vitamins and minerals that promote health, boost energy, and help achieve and maintain optimal weight. These essential nutrients are:

  • Magnesium – Plays a vital role in converting food into energy and in protein synthesis, regulates blood sugar levels, and improves blood pressure.
  • Phosphorus – May help reduce weight, BMI, waist circumference, and appetite, helping manage weight.
  • Manganese – Involved in the production of insulin, it helps stabilize blood sugar; manganese deficiency has been linked with diabetes.
  • Selenium – Promotes thyroid gland health, reducing the risk of a hormonal imbalance that can lead to weight gain.
  • Iron – Helps transport oxygen through the body, affecting energy levels by reducing weakness and fatigue.
  • Vitamin B1 – Essential for all body tissues, it maintains a healthy metabolism and converts carbohydrates into energy.
  • Vitamin B3 – Boost metabolism, improves circulation, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and may help with fat burn.
  • Vitamin B5 – Has an essential role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates to produce energy, maintains a healthy digestive system, and helps the body use other vitamins.
  • Vitamin B9 – Helps build tissue, prevents anemia, and may positively contribute to blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

Types of Rice

There are several types of rice with various health and weight loss benefits. All rice is gluten free and is therefore suitable for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

White Rice

White rice has been processed and stripped of its bran and germ. The process increases shelf life and reduces cooking time but depletes the grain of nutrients and fiber. White rice mainly consists of carbohydrates in the form of starches and is sometimes artificially enriched with B vitamins and iron.

Brown Rice

Apart from carbohydrates, brown rice contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combination of nutrients in brown rice helps you feel full longer, preventing overeating. It is especially beneficial for people with diabetes since it has a low glycemic index and doesn’t cause rapid blood sugar spikes. The nutrients contained in brown rice also decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL).

Red Rice

Red rice is one of the most nutrient-rich of all rice varieties. It contains antioxidants and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Red rice also has a low glycemic index, making it beneficial for people who wish to regulate their blood sugar levels.

Black Rice

Black rice (sometimes called purple rice) is another nutritionally valuable rice variety. It gets its color from the pigment called anthocyanin, which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and prevents heart and brain disease. Black rice also contains more fiber, protein, and iron than other varieties, besides higher levels of amino acids and fatty acids. These nutrients combine to make black rice a powerful aid in weight loss.

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is an aromatic, long grain rice variety mostly used in South Asian cuisines. There are several variations of jasmine rice, including white, brown, red, purple, and black rice. Brown jasmine rice is recommended for glycemic control since it decreases blood sugar levels while remaining an excellent source of energy. Colored jasmine rice varieties contain phytonutrients that have immune-boosting and antioxidant properties.

Basmati Rice

Basmati a long-grain rice variety traditionally used in Indian cuisine. It has a low glycemic index, making it suitable for diabetics and people who are mindful of their blood sugar levels. Brown basmati rice is a good source of fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc, potassium and phosphorus, nutrients which help maintain health and manage weight.

Wild Rice

Wild rice is typically found across Northern America. It’s not technically rice but an aquatic grass related to rice. Recently, wild rice has gained popularity because of its high nutritional value. Wild rice contains fewer calories that other rice varieties and is considered a complete protein (i.e., it contains all the essential amino acids). The high level of vitamins, minerals, and fiber mean that wild rice is helpful at regulating blood sugar and insulin resistance, reducing the risk of diabetes.

Is Rice Good for Weight Loss?

Brown rice is an established healthy food choice and weight-loss aid. Rice is a staple food in many countries that have historically had the lowest percentage of overweight and obese people, such as Japan, Korea, and India. In these countries, rice is typically consumed with other foods rich in protein and fiber that contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice for Weight Loss

Brown rice is more beneficial for weight loss than white rice for several reasons.

  • Maintains its nutritional value – As a whole grain, brown rice remains intact during cooking and keeps all its nutritional value. Unlike its processed counterpart, brown rice contains all the essential vitamins and minerals that promote health and help manage weight.
  • Higher fiber content - Brown rice contains more dietary fiber than white rice. Fiber is essential for maintaining gut health, reducing inflammation, and preventing constipation and other health conditions.
  • Lower glycemic level – All varieties of brown rice have lower glycemic levels than white rice, making it a healthier option. In contrast, white rice can rapidly raise blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Rice for Weight Loss: Best Ways to Consume

Here are some recommendations on how best to incorporate rice in your weight-loss diet.

1. Go for Whole Grain and Color

Whole grain rice is always the better choice for health and weight loss since it keeps its nutritional value during preparing and digestion. Colored varieties such as black, red, and wild rice are also excellent choices.

2. Be Mindful of Portions

Rice is beneficial for weight loss only when it’s part of a balanced diet. For best results, you should combine it with food that is low-calorie and nutritionally dense. It is best to restrict yourself to a single serving of rice in one meal.

3. Don’t Forget the Vegetables

A variety of vegetables on your plate will satisfy your nutritional needs while being low on calories. Government recommendations are that half your plate be filled with different vegetables.

4. Combine Rice with Protein

When you eat rice with food lacking in proteins, you may feel hungry sooner. To prevent this, combine rice with healthy protein sources such as beans and pulses, tofu, lean meat, and fish.

5. Choose the Right Cooking Methods

Keep in mind that the way you prepare food impacts its nutritional value and that overcooking can strip food of its nutrients. Rice is best prepared by boiling or steaming instead of frying.

6. Beware of Additions

When rice is combined with other food, watch the added calories. For example, sushi contains sugar and vinegar, which may contribute to cravings. Risotto is prepared with butter and cheese, which significantly up the calorie count of your meal.


Whole grain rice is a highly beneficial grain packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In combination with other healthy foods, rice can form part of a weight-loss regimen.

Whole grain rice is rich in nutrients and fibers contributing to your health and can prevent heart disease and diabetes. For efficient and long-lasting weight loss results, make healthy rice variants a frequent part of a balanced diet.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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