Can Rice Make You Fat & Cause Weight Gain?

Boiled, fried, steamed, or sticky, rice is the world’s favorite staple dish to gorge on.

Studies show that its popularity is so huge that it provides over 20% of the world’s calories consumed, and is most prevalent in Asia and Latin America.

The consumable quality of rice is high as it is offered in many types, colors, and consistencies, appearing as a celebrated dish in many cultures.

Some of the most popular rice dishes in the world are biryani, omurice, risotto, rice pudding, and flavorful garlic rice.

Aside from offering a variety of ways to be prepared, rice, especially white rice, is fairly easy to cook and eat, and is also cheap to buy. Add to the mix its long shelf life, and there’s little question about why it is such a popular food option.

However, as more and more people research diets in order to be mindful of their health, it’s good to evaluate its role in nutrition and see how it contributes to a typical diet.

White Rice Vs Brown Rice

There are typically two types of rice that are commonly consumed: brown rice and white rice.

Brown rice is the intact whole grain of the rice cereal, containing both the bran and the germ, which makes it full of fiber, nutritious and filling.

While on the flip side, white rice is the form of rice that has had its bran and germ removed.

This is simply done to enhance its taste, extend its shelf life, and make it easier to cook, but it comes at a high price because doing so essentially removes the parts of the rice that make it most nutritious.

Whole grain rice is a significant source of the following nutrients:

  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • manganese
  • selenium
  • iron
  • folate
  • thiamine

Does rice cause belly fat?

White rice gets a poor reputation for being the ultimate fattening food. However, here’s a nugget of wisdom: there are no fattening foods, there are simply fattening diets.

If you consume a balanced portion of rice whilst maintaining the calorie count and burning the excess, then you will not gain weight.

However, there are several reasons carb-rich foods are harder to portion.

Apart from being easier to eat, the sugar content makes them addictive and creates cravings, which can contribute to overeating.

If you eat a sustained calorie surplus, you will probably gain weight.

Plus, when you eat an excess of carbs, your body uses them as an energy source instead of using the fat stores.

Because of the high carb content in rice, there may be a surplus of energy left after your body burns the rice calories, and these get stored as fat, adding to your body’s fat reserves.

Is rice good for weight loss?

Rice comprises two kinds of starch: digestible starch and resistant starch.

Resistant starch is the part that is indigestible by human enzymes, so it could promote weight loss through appetite improvement, hormone regulation, and preservation of lean body mass.

The latter leads to increased metabolism and therefore increases weight loss.

The table below shows the estimated nutritional content of 3.6 ounces (100 grams) of white, brown, and red rice, which may vary upon the brand and preparation method.

White rice Brown rice Red rice

Calories 123 123 111


(grams) 26 25.6 23.5

Fiber (grams) 0.9 1.6 1.8

Protein (grams) 2.91 2.74 2.3

Fat (grams) 0.37 0.97 0.8

Potassium (mg) 56 86 78.5

Iron (mg) 0.24 0.56 0.54

Calcium (mg) 19 3 2.4

Eating brown rice, which is a whole grain, shows results of weight loss quicker in people rather than those who do not consume it, and carries a lower risk of weight gain.

The American Heart Association (AHA) advises choosing brown rice over white rice as it is an excellent source of fiber and offers many benefits for digestion, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing risk of heart disease, obesity, and stroke.

The fiber can make you feel full faster and leave you satisfied with consuming lower calories.

This can help you control your portions and eat less overall, and help you reduce weight.

It’s also chock full of essential vitamins and minerals that boost your immune system, improve thyroid function, and benefit other body functions.

But that’s about brown rice. What about white rice?

White rice has lower nutritional value than its counterparts and may be thought of adding empty calories, since it does not negatively affect the body but doesn’t help it much either.

So how do you make white rice a healthy inclusion in your diet?

Well, besides portion control, you can opt for a version of white rice called enriched white rice, undoubtedly a healthier white rice option.

Since white rice is processed, it only has minute amounts of nutrients.

Enrichment involves adding vitamins and essential nutrients that were lost during the refinement of the whole grain rice.

By supplementing the rice with essential nutrients, one can make white rice a healthier option to eat!

Specifically, enriching white rice increases the content of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • iron
  • niacin
  • folic acid

While white rice has some health benefits, the consensus on its direct weight gain is murky-the only thing we can say for sure is that brown or whole grain rice may be more suited to support weight management.

What happens if you eat too much rice?

Research shows that eating too much rice could put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, since it provides you with too many carbohydrates.

In Asian countries, where rice is most popular, rice is frequently consumed in many forms, be it sushi, fried rice, or even soup!

Regardless, when it is eaten with a well-balanced diet of protein, vegetables, and in small portions, it seems to protect against weight gain in these populations.

Moderation is always key to a balanced life.

For recommended serving sizes, we did some digging and found out the correct portion of rice for a person looking to consume 2000 calories in a day.

One cupcake wrapper equals ½ cup cooked rice, which is the recommended portion per serving.

Tip #1: If you’re looking to cut down on sugar, be careful about the sauces you add to your rice.

Tip #2: Serve your food in a smaller container or dish. This will help you reduce your portions, regardless of what you eat!

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