Unlocking The Science: Is Rice Good For Weight Loss?

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is rice good for weight loss

Is rice good for weight loss? | Rice for a weight loss diet | Types | Risks and Considerations | FAQs

Rice is one of the most widely consumed staple foods in the world. With its versatility and affordability, it is a healthy food choice among many cultures. Rice is a popular gluten free grain that is well suited to celiacs or people on a gluten free diet. 

However, with the rise of weight loss diets, the question arises: Is rice good for weight loss?

The answer is not straightforward, but research shows that rice can indeed be a beneficial part of a weight loss diet if consumed in the right way.

Is rice good for weight loss?

A simple answer to this is that in limited quantities, rice is a healthy, low-calorie food that is unlikely to lead to weight gain. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Obesity and Chronic Diseases [1]Journal of Obesity and Chronic Diseases: Effects of Brown Rice on Obesity: GENKI Study I (Cross Sectional Epidemiological Study), a brown rice diet paired with healthy vegetables seemed to prevent obesity and support a healthy life.

However, one needs to remember that rice is also carb-dense. So, unless you are consuming healthy, whole-grain rice in moderation, you may still be at risk for a marginal level of weight gain. 

High in fiber

Whole grains, like unpolished brown rice, can be a rich source of dietary fiber [2]ResearchGate: Rice as a Source of Fibre. Fiber helps to keep you full and satisfied for a longer period of time, which can help in reducing overeating and subsequent weight gain.

Low in fat

Rice is comparatively low in fats. 100 grams of cooked white rice contains as little as 0.21 g of total fat [3]U.S. Department of Agriculture: Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, unenriched. Thus, it is unlikely that rice consumption can cause significant weight gain.

Low in calories

Cooked brown rice has as low as 123 calories [4]U.S. Department of Agriculture: Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked (Includes foods for USDA’s Food Distribution Program) per 100 grams. White rice, too, has a marginally high range of 129 calories [5]U.S. Department of Agriculture: Rice, white, cooked, no added fat per 100 grams. 

Such low-calorie content makes rice an ideal dietary option for those trying to lose weight. Consequently, eating rice while on a low-calorie diet can actually help in creating the calorie deficit required to promote weight loss.

Rich in complex carbohydrates

Complex carbs [6]American Heart Association: Carbohydrates refer to carbohydrates that are broken down slowly by the body, providing a steady supply of energy. Rice is a good source of these complex carbs, which makes it an ideal source of energy for those trying to lose weight and stay fit.

Brown rice which has both the bran and the highly nutritious germ intact, is a great source of complex carbs and, therefore, a good addition to a low-calorie diet for weight loss.

How to incorporate rice into your weight loss diet

If you intend to  include rice in your weight-loss diet, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Choose whole grain or brown rice over white rice 

The type of rice you consume plays a major role in its health value. Whole grain rice, brown rice, or even other varieties like red rice and black rice have higher fiber content than white rice.  This makes them more effective for weight loss.

2. Cooking methods

A plateful of fried rice isn’t going to help your diet, even if it is cooked with brown rice or black rice. Stick to steaming or boiling rice. In fact, it is best to wash the grains and soak them before cooking to reduce the excess starch content. 

3. Portion control

When it comes to rice and weight loss, portion control is key. Depending on the calorie deficit you wish to create, calculate the quantity of rice you can consume in a day. This will ensure that you don’t go overboard with your portions and stay within the required calorie limit for weight loss.

4. Add protein

Protein aids weight loss in two ways. Firstly, it ensures that you stay full for a longer period of time, thus preventing hunger pangs. Secondly, protein also helps to keep your metabolism ticking and burning more calories. So, add some lean protein to your rice when cooking for even better weight loss results. 

Types of rice

According to The Rice Association [7]The Rice Association: Types of rice, there are at least 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice in the world. Each variety has its unique taste, flavor, and nutritional profile.

Here is a brief look at a few of the most common types of rice:

1. Brown rice

Brown rice is unpolished rice that still has its outer bran layer intact. This layer gives brown rice its distinctive nutty flavor and makes it a great source of fiber and other essential nutrients. 

Brown rice is famously rich in complex carbohydrates, B vitamins,  and essential minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and iron. This makes it one of the healthier varieties of rice and an excellent choice for people aiming to achieve weight loss.

2. White rice

Refined and polished brown rice, with its bran and germ layer stripped off, leaving behind the starchy, carb-rich endosperm, is commonly called white rice. 

White rice is marginally high in calories than other whole-grain rice varieties like red, brown, and black rice. 

Since white rice is a refined grain, it is also low in fiber, making it less nutritious than other types of rice, like brown and red rice. 

Nevertheless, it is still the most popular staple carbohydrate in many parts of the world. 

3. Red rice

Red rice is a  variety of unpolished rice with a reddish-brown color. It is packed with antioxidants and has a distinct nutty flavor. 

The red color of red rice comes from anthocyanin, a pigment that lends blue, red, or purple tones to several varieties of fruits, vegetables, and tubers. 

Anthocyanins [8]National Library of Medicine: Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits have anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Consequently, eating rice rich in anthocyanins can also provide these benefits, apart from weight loss. 

4. Black rice

Unlike brown, red, and white rice, black rice is dark purple in color. This, again, is a result of the presence of anthocyanins in a high concentration.

Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, is a nutrient-packed powerhouse in comparison to other varieties of rice. It contains the highest amount of fiber, the most vitamin E, and the least amount of calories. 

5. Jasmine rice

Jasmine rice is a fragrant, long-grain variety of rice that is widely used in East and Southeast Asian cuisines. It is slightly sticky when cooked and has a sweet, nutty flavor. 

Jasmine rice is similar in nutritional value to other varieties of white rice. However, it is higher in calories compared to brown and red rice.

6. Wild rice

Wild rice is technically not considered to be a variety of rice, as it is not from the Oryza genus. It is the seed of a semi-aquatic variety of grass native to North America.

Wild rice is a nutrient-dense grain that contains significantly high amounts of protein and dietary fiber. It is also considerably lower in fats than other varieties of rice.

Risks and Considerations

Despite the fact that rice is an excellent source of energy-providing carbohydrates, it comes with its own set of drawbacks. Here are some of the risks associated with consuming rice:

1. Rice contains arsenic

Arsenic is a toxic substance that can accumulate in rice over time due to its absorption from the soil. While the levels of arsenic in rice are typically low, long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic can increase the risk of cancer and other health problems. 

To minimize your exposure to arsenic, it’s recommended to rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking it and to avoid eating rice too frequently.

2. Rice can be high in carbohydrates

While rice is a good source of complex carbohydrates, it can also be high in carbohydrates, which can make it challenging to lose weight if consumed in excess. To avoid consuming too many carbohydrates, it’s essential to practice portion control and pair rice with other weight-loss-friendly foods.

3. Causes blood sugar spikes

Rice has a high glycemic index, which means that it can cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop after consuming it. This, in turn, can make you feel hungry again soon after eating. 

To avoid this issue, combine rice with low-glycemic foods like vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds. Additionally, choose whole-grain varieties of rice over white, as they are much lower in glycemic index. 

4. Rice alone is not a complete meal

While rice is a nutritious food, it alone is not a complete meal and may not provide all of the essential nutrients your body needs. To ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs, it’s important to pair rice with other healthy foods such as vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.


Rice can be an excellent addition to your weight loss diet due to its high fiber, low-fat, and low-calorie content. It is also rich in complex carbohydrates and provides energy for workouts.

By incorporating rice into your weight loss diet in a balanced and healthy way, you can reap the many health benefits that it has to offer.


Here are a few common questions people have about rice and its relationship with weight management:

Does rice make you fat?

Rice alone does not make you fat. However, consuming too much rice or pairing it with unhealthy foods can contribute to weight gain. To avoid consuming too many calories, practice portion control and pair rice with other weight-loss-friendly foods.

How much rice should I eat a day to lose weight?

The amount of rice you should eat per day depends on your individual calorie needs and weight loss goals. Generally, a serving of rice is about 1/2 cup of cooked rice, which contains around 100-130 calories. It’s important to practice portion control and pair rice with other healthy foods to ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs while still achieving your weight loss goals.

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