Rice, oh my. Another contentious issue for the fitness community to argue. Some argue that the color (or kind) of rice doesn't matter, while others argue that brown rice is the preferable choice. Allow me to assist you in getting to the bottom of it all.
So, if you're trying to lose weight, is white rice harmful for you?
The simplest answer is no, it isn't harmful in and of itself. However, depending on your situation, it may not be the greatest option.
For example, if you keep your portions in check, you can lose weight with white rice as a mainstay in your diet. Other whole-grain choices, on the other hand, are less processed and hence include more nutrients.
More questions arise as a result of this.
- Why, for example, isn't it as nutritious?
- Is white rice still considered healthy?
- Is it possible to consume it every day?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Let’s discuss them all, starting with:
Is white rice healthy?
It isn't necessarily unhealthy. After all, carbohydrates are your body's primary energy source, and white rice is just that.
However, it is possible that this is not the best solution.
White rice and brown rice, for example, have micronutrients that are nearly identical (see table below).
|White rice (cooked, 100 g)||Brown rice (cooked, 100g)|
|Calories||130 kcal||123 kcal|
|Carbs (fiber)||28.17 g (0.4 g)||25.58 g (1.6 g)|
|Protein||2.69 g||2.74 g|
|Fat||0.28 g||0.97 g|
Let's take a look at each one individually, starting with:
Is white rice nutritious?
So, picking one or the other makes no difference based on the most fundamental weight reduction principle of energy balance (i.e. calories in vs. calories out).
However, the difference between them is more pronounced in their micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals).
The bran and germ of white rice have been removed, leaving only the endosperm. According to the Oldways Whole Grain Council, the bran and germ are high in antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and a little extra protein and fiber.
As a result, white becomes less nutritious while simultaneously becoming more starchy.
According to the NHS, starchy foods are beneficial to a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. When taken in excess, however, it becomes an issue, as many studies have linked it to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
This takes us to another question about rice's healthiness.
Is white rice bleached?
This has been a problem for folks who are hesitant to consume white rice (and, presumably, white sugar) because, of course, consuming bleached food is probably not all that safe.
The good news is that, in most cases, it isn't. White rice is white because the brown bran has been removed, leaving only the white endosperm. (As an aside, this method dramatically extends the shelf life of white rice while also making it less expensive.)
The final steps in the manufacture of white rice involve polishing the rice to give it a pearly gloss and separating rice with color defects.
This leaves us, as customers, with the perfect white rice available in supermarkets.
Of course, there's always the possibility that some nefarious producers bleach their rice to make it seem better. In this instance, you should probably stick to the brands you know.
Nishiki's medium-grain rice is my recommendation, although other kinds available near you may be just as nice.
Check out this Science Channel video for a more in-depth look at how rice is created.
Is eating white rice everyday good or bad?
Almost any Asian will tell you that eating white rice on a regular basis is beneficial. However, if you ask anyone else, they will most certainly give you a completely different answer.
I, too, am an Asian who grew up on rice, but I'm putting aside my prejudices for the sake of impartiality.
That being said, eating white rice on a daily basis might be beneficial or detrimental.
Rice has a high glycemic index of 78, which means it has a negative impact on blood sugar levels. In comparison to brown rice's moderate score of 68 (according to Harvard), this suggests white rice provides an almost rapid source of energy.
White rice also lacks phytate, an anti-nutrient found in bran that may interfere with iron, calcium, and zinc absorption, according to study.
If you're an athlete or a high-energy person, these benefits make white rice a reliable carbohydrate source that you may take on a daily basis.
However, without a well-balanced diet, such explanations are incorrect.
While white rice is a quick supply of energy, energy levels from high GI foods are also quickly depleted. And, while it lacks the nutrient-blocking phytate, it is also not fundamentally nutritious.
These issues have easy solutions though.
You could always pair white rice with slower-digesting, high-fiber carbs like fruits and veggies for more energy. You might also eat them as snacks to fill the energy gap between your main meals without eating too many calories.
White rice enhanced with folate is becoming increasingly popular in terms of nutritional content. Furthermore, with a well-balanced diet, it is quite straightforward to supplement those nutrients that are deficient.
What you match it with and how much of it you consume ultimately determine whether eating white rice every day is beneficial or bad.
Is it possible to lose weight by eating white rice?
Contrary to popular belief, I'm going to go out on a limb and declare that yes, you can lose weight while eating white rice. After all, skinny Asians all over the world (including me) most certainly continue to consume white rice on a regular basis.
However, the same laws that apply to making white rice nutritious also apply to making it suitable for weight loss. This entails combining it with foods that can compensate for its nutritional deficiency, as well as being cautious of your quantities.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of portions…
How much white rice should I consume if I'm trying to lose weight?
Allow me to quickly return to the concept of energy balance.
The ratio of energy consumed to energy burned determines whether you lose, gain, or maintain weight. In this context, energy refers to calories.
To lose weight, you should consume less calories than you expend.
Losing weight is indeed that straightforward, but as you may well know, it is easier said than done.
This is where the amount of white rice you consume comes into play.
To achieve negative energy balance, you must either lower the amount of calories you consume (e.g., dieting, portion control), raise the number of calories you burn (i.e., increased physical activity), or do both.
Let's pretend for a moment that you don't exercise and that you require roughly 2000 calories each day to stay the same weight.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you'd need to cut 500-1000 calories every day to lose 1-2 pounds, increasing your daily limit to 1500 if you wanted to lose those pounds.
According to the NHS's Eatwell Guide to Healthy and Balanced Diets, starchy foods should account for slightly more than one-third of your daily calorie intake. Based on the 1500 calorie example I just provided you, your daily limit for white rice consumption will be roughly 500 calories.
However, you don't want to waste all those calories on white rice.
Again, it is not as nutrient-dense as whole grains. So, if you only want rice, brown rice is often preferable.
However, if white rice is your only option, you might swap/pair parts of it with more fiber-rich, nutritious items like fruits, veggies, and other wholegrain options to help cover the nutritional shortfall.
Keeping those considerations in mind, below are a few tools/apps that can assist you in determining the various components of energy balance. They should assist you in losing weight while continuing to consume white rice:
- Calorie calculator from Mayo Clinic – Estimates how many calories you need to maintain your weight based on your activity level, age, height, and gender. To lose weight safely, subtract 500-1000 calories from that amount (but don't fall below 1300 calories).
- MyFitnessPal — Has a similar calorie calculator, but it also estimates how many calories you should consume per day to meet your weight loss objectives. There is no need for math. Furthermore, it functions as a meal journal, allowing you to keep better track of your nutrition, including vitamins and minerals that you may not be getting through ordinary white rice eating.
Advantages and disadvantages of white rice
Before we go any further, here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks of white rice. Consider this a review of everything we just discussed.
|Has roughly the same amount of macronutrients as brown rice (except fiber)||Has significantly less fiber and healthy fat with a bit less protein|
|Longer shelf life||Lacks the antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals found in wholegrain alternatives|
|Significantly cheaper||Energy levels crash fairly quickly|
|Its high glycemic index serves as a quick source of energy (glucose)||Excessive intake is associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease|
|No phytate, so it doesn’t interfere with nutrient absorption|
|Enriched versions now saturate the market|
|Starchy, so it can be healthy in moderate amounts|
Let me ask you this after you've digested all of that information:
Is white rice unhealthy?
If I haven't already made it plain, yes, it can be terrible for you, but only in excess.
Moderation, as with most things in life, is the key to reducing weight while still eating white rice. It may not be as nutritious or fiber, but it is a versatile component that can be combined with more nutritious foods to help fill the vacuum.
Goodbye, amigos! Will you please forward this to a friend? While you're at it, give your rice-eating Asian friends a high five!