Rice is mostly comprised of simple carbs, which have consistently been linked to obesity and Crohn’s Disease. However, countries with a high rice intake have low levels of these diseases. So what’s the deal with rice then? Is it fattening or is it weight loss friendly? That’s the topic of this article. It’s important first to understand what rice is and the difference between white rice and brown rice.
So brown rice is a intact whole grain that contains the bran, the endosperm and the germ. Now the bran and germ contain the vitamins, antioxidants and the fiber.
White rice on the right side and has both the bran and the nutritious germ removed, ultimately stripping it of all its nutritional parts.
This is generally done to improve its taste, prolong its shelf life and enhance its cooking qualities. So with white rice, we’re left with the carbs and a little bit of the protein. Now because of these variances in nutrient composition, different types of rice can have very different health effects. The effects of rice on weight loss are conflicting.
While the effects of brown rice on weight loss are pretty well established, the effects of white rice are not. People who eat whole grains like brown rice have repeatedly been show to weigh less than those who don’t, as well as be at a reduced risk of weight gain. This could be attributed to the fiber, nutrients and plant compounds found in whole grains.
They may increase feelings of fullness and help you eat fewer calories at a time. It has also been suggested that eating brown rice instead of white may lead to weight loss, low blood pressure and more favorable levels of fats in the bloods like LDL cholesterol.
However, when it comes to white rice, the findings from studies are a little bit more inconsistent. Numerous studies have show that a dietary pattern high in refined grains, like white rice, is linked to weight gain and obesity. At the same time, other studies have not found a link between white rice or refined grain consumption and weight gain or central obesity.
In fact, white rice consumption has even been linked to a reduced risk of weight gain, especially in countries where it’s a staple food. One study in overweight Korean woman showed that a weight loss diet that included either white rice or mixed rice, which is brown and black, three times per day, resulted in weight loss. Now the mixed rice group lost 14.8 pounds or 6.7 kilos over a six-week period, while the white rice group lost 11.9 pounds or 5.4 kilos, so not too bad either.
Look, it appears that both types of rice can be included in a weight loss eating pattern, so to speak. However, brown rice is superior if you eat a lot of rice. Rice is staple food in many countries. Let’s also keep in mind that rice is a staple food for more than half of the world’s population, particularly in Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea and India. These are all countries that, until recently, had relatively low percentages of people who were overweight or obese. White rice is the predominant source of carbs in those countries.
For example, Koreans consume almost 40% of their total calorie intake from rice. In these countries, rice may be consumed an average of 20 times per week and up to six times per day. Even so, rice consumption seems to protect against weight gain and high blood pressure in these populations. In elderly Chinese people, a dietary pattern high in rice and vegetables seems to help prevent weight gain, large waist circumference and obesity. The same results were found in a study including over 200 overweight Iranians. No association between the frequency of white rice consumption and body mass index or belly fat was found.
However, unfortunately, these trends are changing as diets in these countries are becoming more influenced by the Western diet. But at this point it seems that rice itself has a neutral effect, while its health effects, either positive or negative, depend on the person’s overall diet. Any food can be fattening if portion sizes aren’t controlled. As with almost all things in nutrition, the dose determines the poison.
There’s nothing inherently fattening about rice. So its effects on weights actually have to come down to your portion size and your overall diet. Studies have repeatedly shown that serving food in a large container or dish increases intake, regardless of the food or drink being served.
This has to do with the perception of the serving size. Serving large portions has been shown to increase calorie intake significantly, without people realizing it. Also, since people don’t realize that they’re eating more than usual, they generally don’t compensate by eating less at the next meal. This interesting study showed that participants who didn’t know they were eating soup from a self refilling bowl ate 73% more soup than those eating from normal bowls.
Most importantly, they didn’t realize that they ate more than the others or perceived themselves as more full than those eating from normal bowls. At the end of the day, brown rice is healthier than white rice. But there’s nothing specifically fattening about rice overall. It can be fattening if eaten as part of an unhealthy diet, or in excessively large portions, but it can also be weight loss friendly as part of a healthy and well-balanced diet.