You've probably heard that rice is a high-carbohydrate food that can make you gain weight, but is this really true?
Is rice fattening?
The answer is… potentially.
Weight gain and weight loss both work via the calorie balance equation, or Calories in Vs. Calories Out.
That is, if you take in more calories than you burn, you gain weight.
If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.
So, rice is not necessarily fattening- unless you eat too much of it.
In fact, rice can actually be good for you, and in some instances, help you lose weight.
Rice is a complex carbohydrate and an excellent source of energy. It's low in fat and calories and brown rice is high in fiber.
Brown rice is especially nutritious, containing thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, and manganese.
It's also a good source of selenium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
That's all great stuff.
But, here's where the weight loss magic happens:
Resistant Starch In Cooked and Cooled Rice
Cooked and cooled rice is especially nutritious because it contains high levels of resistant starch (also known as “indigestible” or “unavailable” carbohydrate).
A small portion of the carbohydrates found in rice escape digestion in the small intestine and make their way to the large intestine, where they act as a dietary fiber.
When it accumulates in the gut, resistant starch serves as food for beneficial bacteria that ferment it into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate and acetate.
Research has shown that these acids promote fat burning and prevent metabolic issues.
The Benefits of Fiber in Brown Rice
In addition to resistant starch, brown rice contains significant amounts of other types of dietary fiber.
Together these fibers help slow down the pace at which food passes from the stomach into the small intestine, which allows glucose to be released gradually into the blood and reduces spikes in blood sugar after meals.
This is especially important for people with insulin resistance, for whom sharp increases in blood sugar can be dangerous.
The Cons of Eating Too Much Rice
Rice is a filling and easy-to-eat food that is often consumed in large quantities.
While this may be satisfying, it can also lead to excess calorie intake and, as a result, you gain weight over time.
So, rice is not inherently bad for you, but eating too much of it can cause an increase in body fat.
White Rice Is A High Glycemic Food
White rice is a high glycemic food, which could trigger hunger soon after eating it, if not paired with protein.
This is because white rice is quickly digested and converted into sugar, which spikes blood sugar levels.
- When blood sugar levels spike, the body releases insulin to bring them back down.
- Insulin tells the body to store any excess sugar as fat, so if you eat white rice often, you're more likely to gain weight.
When you pair a moderate-sized serving of rice with a protein such as lean chicken or salmon, the glycemic index isn't of much concern because the protein (and slight amount of fat) slow down the digestion of the meal.
When Is White Rice Beneficial To Eat?
White rice with whey protein is a great post-workout meal.
Right after an intense workout, when your muscles are in repair mode, and your glycogen stores are low.
Because combining white rice with protein offers all the nutrients and carbs your body needs to recover after an intense workout.
It's also helpful for endurance athletes on long-distance runs or swims!