Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a significant portion of the world's population. It’s a favorite of bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other high-level athletes, and for good reason -- it’s a quality carbohydrate source that is efficiently used by the body.
There is a debate in recent years that’s been brewing over which form of rice is “better” -- brown rice or white rice.
From the “clean eaters” out there, you’ll hear that brown rice is superior on account of it being less processed and “high” in fiber.
And, while brown rice does have more fiber per serving than white rice, it’s a paltry amount. A standard serving of brown rice has between 1-2 grams of fiber, while white rice has ~0.2-0.3 grams per serving.
That’s hardly a “huge” discrepancy.
Furthermore, rice shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your fiber intake either. It should be fruits and vegetables.
Another thing to consider is that brown rice still retains its bran (the brown outer coating). While this does supply fiber, it also contains an “anti-nutrient” called phytic acid which binds to minerals and can limit the body’s ability to absorb them.
White rice has had the bran stripped during processing, so it doesn’t contain phytic acid (which is better for mineral absorption), but the rice is now without B vitamins, zinc, folic acid, and iron naturally found in the bran.
This isn’t a big deal though, since most white rice varieties on the market are fortified after processing with B vitamins, zinc, and other key micronutrients. So, in the end, it basically becomes a wash.
When it comes to fat loss, eating white or brown rice will not make or break you. Brown rice has a gram or two more fiber per serving than white rice, but that’s easily made up for by eating a serving of broccoli, asparagus, or leafy greens.
Even a serving of berries contains considerably more fiber than a serving of brown rice.
So, when structuring your diet for fat loss, eat the type of rice you enjoy eating and don’t get mired down in the minutiae of which one is “better.”
Do I Need to Be Concerned About Insulin “Spikes” with Rice?
Since brown rice retains its bran and fiber content, it is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream compared to white rice. As such, the insulin spike won’t be as fast.
However, this assumes that you’re eating only rice by itself.
Most of the time, rice is consumed alongside other foods like chicken, steak, avocado, beans, cheese, olive oil, and vegetables.
All of these foods will slow down the digestion of the rice due to a combination of protein, fat, and fiber.
Therefore, it’s not worth worrying about the glycemic index of white rice vs brown rice for fat loss. Nobody is eating the food in isolation. It’s almost always as part of a mixed meal with protein, fat, and vegetables.
If you’re really worried about the fast digesting nature of white rice (even in the presence of a mixed meal), you can improve its digestion and starch profile first cooking the rice, then cooling it in the refrigerator overnight, and then reheating it the next day.
By cooking, then cooling, you increase the resistance starch content of the rice, which slows down how fast the body digests it, while also supporting gut health.
- How much arsenic is in your rice? (2014, November 18). Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/how-much-arsenic-is-in-your-rice/index.htm