Is Rice Good for Weight Loss?

Different types of rice

With countless diets, trends, and theories at your fingertips, knowing which foods to eat for weight loss can be difficult.

White rice consumption is typically seen as “bad”, but it’s packed with nutrients that are essential for your overall health.

However, it’s important to know how to incorporate rice into a healthy diet for safe and sustainable weight loss.

In this article, we’ll look at how rice can help you slim down and share some expert-approved tips for adding it to your meals to promote weight loss and improve your overall health.

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The Science Behind Rice and Weight Management

Rice is a staple ingredient in many households due to its low cost and versatility. But it may also help promote weight loss.

The relationship between rice consumption and weight loss has been a popular topic since the emergence of ‘The Rice Diet Solution’ study in 1939.

This study examines a diet that was initially designed to treat life-threatening cases of hypertension and kidney disease.

However, participants also showed improvements in weight and overall health.

It’s important to note that while individuals lost weight on this diet, it’s largely due to consuming low-sodium and low-fat foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, instead of rice alone.

Foods like these will help you lower your calorie intake, which is essential for sustainable weight loss over time.

Nutritional Profile of Rice

One cup of cooked long-grain brown rice contains:

Calories: 248 kcal

Fat: 2 g

Sodium: 8 mg

Carbohydrates: 51 g

Fiber: 3.2 g

Protein: 5.5 g

Manganese: 2 mg

Magnesium: 79 mg

What are the benefits of consuming rice?

May improve cholesterol levels

Some research suggests that consuming brown rice can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels.

This is due to brown rice's high fiber content, which allows it to bind with cholesterol in the digestive system, preventing the substance from damaging the body.

Can help promote satiety

Another benefit of rice’s high fiber content is that it can help you feel fuller for longer. This is because rice slows digestion and expands the stomach, creating a feeling of fullness.

Over time, this effect can help you naturally reduce your calorie intake to support your weight loss.

Can improve your nutrient intake

When you eat rice more regularly — particularly whole-grain rice versions — you can boost your intake of essential nutrients like fiber, protein, and magnesium.

These nutrients support various essential bodily functions — like the digestive process and muscle building — that are crucial for long-term weight loss.

White rice is also high in nutrients that are vital for a healthy immune system, such as:

  • Iron

  • Niacin

  • Folic acid

Can Rice Really Help You Lose Weight?

Various factors can influence how effective rice may be at helping you lose weight. We’ll take a closer look at them in this section.

Balancing your calories

To ensure sustainable and long-term weight loss, you should create a continuous calorie deficit — meaning that you consume fewer calories than you burn.

White rice, in particular, is often high in carbohydrates and calories, which can spike your blood sugar.

Frequent blood sugar spikes can cause insulin resistance and weight gain.

However, when consumed in moderation, white rice can be safely included in a weight-loss diet. We’ll go into more detail about this a bit later.

Choosing between different types of rice

Brown and black rice is usually considered the healthier choice, but it contains the same number of calories and carbs per serving as white rice.

Variants like wild rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice also all contain a similar amount of calories.

However, some variants are slightly higher in carbohydrates and nutrients. For example, white rice contains more protein and healthy fats than brown rice.

When choosing which rice option you want to include in your diet, strike a balance between your nutritional needs and weight loss goals.

How to Incorporate Rice into a Weight Loss Diet

Pay attention to portion size

Portion control is key when incorporating rice into a weight-loss-friendly diet.

Both brown and white rice are dense in carbohydrates, which can contribute significantly to your daily calorie intake, especially if consumed in large amounts.

A healthy portion of rice is generally about ½ a cup (cooked), which contains around 100 to 120 calories.

To ensure you maintain this portion size, use measuring cups or smaller bowels when preparing your meals.

This will guard against overeating but still allow you to enjoy rice as part of a well-balanced diet.

Combine rice with proteins and vegetables

A well-balanced meal will ensure you consume various foods, vitamins, and minerals essential for weight loss.

When including rice in your diet, always pair it with vegetables and lean proteins — like chicken breast, fish, or tofu.

Proteins are packed with essential nutrients to build and repair tissue and can also promote satiety to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber and other nutrients that support your overall health while keeping you full.

Use healthy cooking methods

The way you prepare your food can impact its nutritional value and its effectiveness in helping you lose weight.

For example, cooking your rice in fats like butter or coconut oil increases the overall calorie content of your meal without you realizing it.

On the other hand, using water or vegetable broth helps the rice to retain nutrients while cooking without additional calories.

You can also enhance the flavor of the rice by adding herbs and spices to it instead of using large amounts of salt or butter.

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Alternatives to Rice for Weight Loss


Quinoa is a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate that also contains protein. This food contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent alternative to rice.

It’s also high in fiber and other nutrients, including magnesium, B vitamins, iron, vitamin E, and various antioxidants.

Due to its high fiber content, quinoa can increase feelings of fullness, helping you to consume fewer calories.

Quinoa is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in salads, side dishes, or as rice substitutes in many recipes.

You can even use it to make breakfast as an alternative to traditional porridge or oats.


Barley is a nutrient-dense whole grain packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

It’s particularly rich in soluble fiber, which forms a gel-like substance in your gut when consumed.

This can help slow digestion and promote satiety to reduce hunger and lower your calorie intake.

Barley’s fiber content also promotes a healthy gut by increasing the production of beneficial bacteria. This can help maintain a healthy digestive system and reduce bloating.

You can incorporate barley into your diet by adding it to soups, stews, and salads, or as a tasty alternative to rice and pasta. You can also make porridge from barley flour for a nutritious and filling breakfast.

Bulgur wheat

Bulgur is a staple whole grain in Middle Eastern cuisine that’s known for its nutritional health benefits.

Not only is bulgar wheat high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it also has a low glycemic index (GI).

Foods with a low GI don’t cause blood sugar to spike and can make you feel fuller for longer, aiding weight loss.

Bulgur wheat is also quick to prepare, making it a great choice for individuals on the go. It can be used as a base for salads, as a side dish, or in stuffings and casseroles.

When Should You Consult a Doctor About Weight Loss?

While embarking on a weight loss journey doesn’t usually require a trip to the doctor, there are certain circumstances where consulting a professional is recommended.

These include:

  • Experiencing significant unintended weight loss

  • Having pre existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure

  • Struggling with weight loss plateaus or regaining weight

  • Considering weight loss surgery or medication

  • Experiencing eating disorder symptoms

  • Developing mental health issues

Consulting a doctor under these circumstances can help you ensure that you lose weight safely while taking care of your overall health.

Your doctor can also recommend any dietary and lifestyle adjustments or medications that may be necessary to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Where Can You Learn More About Healthy Eating Habits and Weight Loss?

If you’re looking for more information on creating healthy eating habits or want to learn about other ways to lose weight, LifeMD has got you covered.

We can connect you to a team of medical professionals who can provide support on dietary strategies to help you lose weight effectively and take control of your health.

With the LifeMD Weight Management Program, you’ll also have access to innovative GLP-1 medications like Ozempic, Wegovy and others if you qualify.

Joslin Ruiz, APRN, FNP-C

Joslin began her healthcare journey as an ER nurse, where she fine-tuned her expertise in both pediatric and adult care over the years. She’s spent years in family practice and telemedicine, finding immense joy and fulfillment in her work.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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