Brown Rice vs White Rice: Which Is Good or Bad, Healthy or Unhealthy?

Let me ask you a question. If you had the choice between eating brown rice or white rice, which one would you choose?

Most people would probably pick brown rice. Why? Because it’s often considered to be the good, clean, healthy choice, whereas white rice is considered to be the bad, dirty, unhealthy choice.

Which means if you wanted to lose fat, or avoid gaining fat, or build muscle, or be healthier, or make any sort of positive improvement to the way your body looks, feels and functions, brown rice is supposedly the better choice by far, and white rice should be avoided.

Sound about right? Cool. Now let me show you 5 reasons why this is bullshit.

1. What’s The Difference In Their Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) classifies foods based on how quickly and how high they raise blood sugar levels. The higher a food’s GI value, the faster it will be digested and the faster/higher it will raise blood sugar levels. The lower a food’s GI value, the slower it will be digested and the slower/lower it will raise blood sugar levels.

For this reason, eating in accordance with the glycemic index (eating low GI foods/avoiding high GI foods) is often viewed as a great idea for everything from losing fat or preventing fat from being gained, to controlling hunger, to preventing heart disease, diabetes and more.

And guess what? White rice has a higher GI value than brown rice. Most people know this, and it’s typically the first reason given for why brown rice is the better choice.

Is this true? Yes. Although, the difference in glycemic index can sometimes be less significant than people make it out to be depending on exactly what types of rice are being compared (long grain, short grain, basmati, jasmine, etc.).

But regardless of which type of rice is being compared, brown DOES in fact have an advantage over white in terms of the glycemic index. No doubt about that.

What should be doubted however is whether any of this glycemic index crap actually matters in the real world. For the most part, it doesn’t. Here’s why…

Does The Glycemic Index Actually Matter?

The GI value of a food is determined when it’s eaten in isolation after an overnight fast. As in, this is how this food will affect your blood sugar when it’s the FIRST and ONLY thing you’re eating after a full night of not eating anything.

And this is the point where the glycemic index becomes borderline useless as a means of determining if a food is “good” and “bad.” There’s two reasons why.

1. Eating After An Overnight Fast? Probably Not.

With the exception of your first meal of the day, you’re not eating after an overnight fast. So the majority of the time you eat rice (or whatever else), you’ll be eating it AFTER having already eaten other foods and meals at some point earlier that day.

Why does this matter? Because now there are other foods in your system already in the process of being digested, and this will reduce the speed of digestion of all other foods being eaten from that point on.

So the white rice (or brown rice) you’re eating for dinner tonight will actually digest slower (and therefore have less of an affect on your blood sugar) than the glycemic index says it will thanks to whatever foods you’ve already eaten today.

2. Eating In Isolation? Probably Not.

The much bigger issue here is the fact that, in the real world, the average person is unlikely to eat these foods in isolation.

Meaning, the average person won’t sit down to a big plate of white rice and nothing else (yet this is the scenario the glycemic index is based on).

Why does this matter, you ask? Because when other stuff is eaten along with it like it usually is, it changes everything. It’s now less about each food in the meal and more about the overall meal itself.

And, the protein, fat, fiber, etc. in those other foods will greatly reduce the glycemic index/speed of digestion of the entire meal to the point where there will be no meaningful difference between whether white rice or brown rice was a part of it.

So a meal of white rice + some fiber (like a vegetable), or fat (like various oils or nuts), or protein (like chicken) or all of the above will actually be MUCH lower glycemic and digest MUCH slower than a meal of just white (or brown) rice alone.

And a meal of white rice + some fiber/fat/protein vs a meal of brown rice + that same fiber/fat/protein will digest at virtually the exact same speed and affect blood sugar in virtually the exact same way.

Simply put, when other foods enter the meal, the type of rice becomes irrelevant. It’s gonna digest slowly either way.

What Does This Mean?

While all of this glycemic index stuff may look like it matters a whole lot on paper, the truth is that it matters a whole lot less in the real world. So if that’s your #1 reason for considering brown rice to be the good/clean/healthy choice of the two, you may want to reconsider.

SUMMARY:

They are equal in this category. Why? Because the glycemic index is simply not relevant in the real world, since carb sources like rice are typically eaten with and/or after other foods which contain other nutrients (protein, fat, fiber) that will significantly slow its digestion regardless. For this reason, any difference in the individual GI of white and brown rice doesn’t really matter.

2. What’s The Difference In Fiber, Protein, Micronutrients And Anti-Nutrients?

The next area that brown rice is said to have a huge advantage over white rice is nutritional content. Brown rice has more fiber, more protein and just more “healthy” nutrients overall. White rice on the other hand is just “empty calories” with little to no nutritional value.

So if there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that brown easily beats white in this area. Right?

Right!?!?!?

Not quite. In fact, they’re often either exactly equal or brown just barely beats white. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you.

Carolina Brown vs White

The first rice brand that popped into my head is the brand Carolina. I’m thinking it’s gotta be one of the top few brands here in the US, isn’t it? Now here’s a screenshot from their official website

A nutritional comparison of rice from the brand Carolina.

Take note of the area I highlighted in blue at the bottom. That’s their white rice and brown rice. Take a moment to let all of those massive nutritional differences sink in.

Seriously. They’re damn near identical in every area, including exactly the same in protein (3 grams per serving). Brown does have the advantage in fiber though, and what a huge advantage it is… one whole gram more than white. Wow!

Eat a single small piece of broccoli or like 10 little green peas (or some laughably tiny amount of whatever you favorite vegetable is) with your white rice and you’ll instantly have an equal (if not higher) amount of fiber.

This was fun. Let’s do it again.

Lundberg Brown Basmati vs White Basmati

Here’s another very popular brand of rice. It’s also the specific brand and type of rice I’ve personally been eating most often over the last couple of years.

This is partially because A) basmati rice tastes and smells awesome, B) Lundberg makes a great version of it that is conveniently sold where I live, and C) Lundberg’s rice recently tested lowest in arsenic content compared to other brands (more on that later).

Here’s the nutritional info from their official website

Lundberg Brown Rice Nutrition vs White

As you can see, more huge differences. Brown basmati has 1 more gram of protein and 1 more gram of fiber than white basmati. Once again… wow!

So in terms of fiber and protein content (along with calorie/carb/fat content as well) – which are often blindly cited as the differences that make brown “good” and white “bad” – the reality is that they are virtually identical.

And whatever advantage brown occasionally has is so tiny (e.g. 1 additional gram of protein) that it won’t actually matter in the grand scheme of your diet.

Not to mention, if you’re eating rice (which contains a very small amount of lower quality protein) as a primary source of protein in the first place, you should probably reevaluate your diet.

And by the way, if you’re trying to get more protein and/or fiber in your diet, the best option would be to combine your rice with something like chicken (or whatever) and vegetables. Just an idea. Now your meal will digest much slower, have much less impact on blood sugar, AND actually provide a useful amount of protein and fiber (and various micronutrients).

For example, I eat this meal all the time.

Micronutrients And Anti-Nutrients

Alright, so fiber and protein didn’t quite pan out as the huge nutritional differences everyone makes them out to be. But what about all of those micronutrients (various vitamins and minerals) that brown rice contains plenty of that white rice doesn’t?

Four things about that…

  1. First, this is true. Kinda. White rice is essentially just brown rice that has had its outer layers removed, and it’s those outer layers that contain various micronutrients. So when they’re removed during processing, many of those micronutrients are removed as well. For this reason, brown rice definitely does have the advantage over white rice in this area. Kinda.
  2. Second, none of this will have any effect on fat loss, fat gain, muscle growth, muscle loss or anything similar. At this point we’re only arguing about whether one food is more “nutrient-dense” than the other, not whether one will have a more positive or negative impact on body composition than the other, because micronutrients won’t have any meaningful effect on that.
  3. Third, a lot of white rice sold is “enriched,” which basically means the food company has added back in some of the micronutrients that were lost in the process explained above.
  4. Fourth and most entertaining of all is the issue of anti-nutrients. Here’s a quote from a well known nutrition researcher…

White rice actually has an equal or better nutritional yield & also has a better nitrogen-retentive effect than brown rice. This is because the fiber & phytate content of brown rice act as antinutrients, reducing the bioavailability of the micronutrients it contains. Since no one is reading the fricking link, I’ll just lay things out here:

————————————————————————-

Comparison of the nutritional value between brown rice and white rice

Callegaro Mda D, Tirapegui J. Arq Gastroenterol. 1996 Oct-Dec;33(4):225-31.

Cereals are considered an important source of nutrients both in human and animal nourishment. In this paper nutritional value of brown rice is compared to that of white rice in relation to nutrients. Results show that despite higher nutrients contents of brown rice compared to white rice, experimental data does not provide evidence that the brown rice diet is better than the diet based on white rice. Possible antinutritional factors present in brown rice have adverse effects on bioavailability of this cereal nutrients.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9302338

————————————————————————-

Effects of brown rice on apparent digestibility and balance of nutrients in young men on low protein diets

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1987 Jun;33(3):207-18. .Miyoshi H, Okuda T, Okuda K, Koishi H.

The effect of brown rice with low protein intake was studied in five healthy young men. Feces were weighed, the digestibility of nutrients was determined, and blood tests were made. Each subject followed a diet consisting mainly of polished rice for 14 days and one consisting mainly of brown rice for 8 days. Both diets contained 0.5 g protein per kg of body weight. The brown rice diet had 3 times as much dietary fiber as the polished rice diet. On the brown rice diet, fecal weight increased, and apparent digestibility of energy, protein, and fat decreased, as did the absorption rates of Na, K, and P. The nitrogen balance was negative on both diets, but more negative on the brown rice diet. The phosphorus balance on the brown rice diet was significantly negative, but other minerals were not affected by the diet. The levels of cholesterol and minerals in the plasma were not significantly different on the polished rice diet and the brown rice diet. Comparing these results with data on standard protein intake (Miyoshi, H. et al (1986) J. Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol., 32, 581-589.), we concluded that brown rice reduced protein digestibility and nitrogen balance.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2822877

So yeah, if the supposed amazing macronutrient and/or micronutrient content of brown rice is the #1 reason why you consider it to be better/cleaner/healthier than white rice, you may want to once again reconsider.

SUMMARY:

They are equal in this category. Why? Because white and brown rice are virtually identical in terms of calories, fat, protein, carbs and fiber. Any differences that do exist are too small to actually matter in the context of someone’s overall diet. In addition, the antinutritional properties of brown rice will hinder the body’s ability to absorb many of the vitamins and minerals it contains.

3. What’s The Difference In Digestibility?

I’m not talking about speed of digestion here. We covered that already. I’m talking about your ability to digest a food.

And in terms of which is least likely to cause any digestive issues and/or just make you feel a bit crappy in general (gas, bloating, nasal congestion, lethargy, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, etc…. all the fun stuff), white rice has an advantage over brown.

It’s one of the most well tolerated foods on the planet.

Now sure, many people will feel just fine eating both types of rice and have no issues as far as they can tell. In those cases, this advantage is irrelevant.

But for the people who DO have food intolerances, allergies or digestive issues and DO have mild to significant issues with certain types of foods (like grains), this advantage is relevant.

So how can you tell if you have any issues with brown rice (or any other food for that matter)? Try this:

  1. Eat that food consistently for a few weeks while keeping your overall diet the same… and pay attention.
  2. Then, remove that food from your diet for the next few weeks while still keeping your overall diet the same… and pay attention.
  3. Then, reintroduce that food back into your diet for the next few weeks while keeping your overall diet the same… and pay attention.

So, what happened? Did you notice any differences? Did you feel better/worse with or without that food? Or was everything exactly the same?

If everything seemed exactly the same with and without that food, then cool. Feel free to keep on eating it.

If however you noticed that you feel better without it and worse with it, you may want to consider eating that food less often or maybe even not at all.

And while rice in general tends to be one of the least problematic foods in this regard, the simple fact is that brown rice WILL cause some issues for some people, while white rice most likely never will.

Those people should adjust accordingly.

SUMMARY:

White rice wins in this category. Why? Because it tends to be one of the most easily-digestible foods there are, whereas brown rice is a common cause of digestive issues (gas, bloating, etc.) for many people.

4. What’s The Difference In Arsenic Content?

Hey look, another thing brown rice is higher in! Only this time that’s probably not a good thing.

You see, ALL rice contains some amount of arsenic (yes, the same toxic arsenic you’re thinking of), as do many of the other things we consume on a daily basis (water, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.).

It just so happens that rice contains more arsenic than the other stuff.

And, brown rice just so happens to contain a whole lot more arsenic than white rice does. Separate 2012 reports from Consumer Reports and the FDA both show this.

This is actually a topic I wrote about (Arsenic In Rice) back when that first report originally came out. Allow me to quote myself…

Literally all of the products that came back with the highest levels were brown rice products. And every time they tested a brown and white rice from the same brand, the brown version always had a lot more than the white.

Why is this? Well, you know that outer layer brown rice has that contains all of that extra nutritional value that supposedly makes it better than white rice? It turns out this outer layer also allows it to retain more arsenic.

The next obvious question here is what risk does this all pose? Is this something to worry about? Is this a reason to avoid brown rice and eat white instead? Is this a reason to avoid all rice completely? Is this a reason to avoid fruit, vegetables and water too?

The last question isn’t serious of course (and I say “of course” knowing that there are people who already spilled out their water and threw out their vegetables), and the question before that is a huge overreaction in my opinion. But the first 3 questions? We honestly don’t know enough to answer them. All I can do is give you the information and leave the decision making to you.

As for me personally, as someone who eats a shitload of rice on a regular basis, I viewed this report as another reason for me to stick primarily with white rice (digestibility is the other).

And by the way, the article of mine that I quoted above also covers some good recommendations for reducing the amount of arsenic in your rice. In you’re interested, feel free to check it out. And as mentioned earlier, the brand I eat (Lundberg, especially their white basmati) tested lower than everything else.

SUMMARY:

White rice wins in this category. Why? Because while ALL forms of rice are likely to contain some amount of arsenic (as does a lot of the other foods/drinks we consume… it’s kind of unavoidable), independent lab testing has consistently shown that brown rice contains a significantly larger amount of it.

5. What About Personal Preferences?

And finally we have that one tiny, minor, super unimportant aspect of choosing foods that people like us (those eating to improve their bodies) tend to forget about or ignore completely.

Whether or not we actually like that food.

And please note the sarcasm in that first sentence. Describing personal preference as being “tiny, minor, super unimportant” is a joke despite it being the way many of us realistically treat it.

So, which type of rice do you like better? The taste. The texture. How it goes with other foods you’re eating it with.

I personally like the taste of white and brown rice damn near equally. So, I’ve eaten both on and off for years because I happen to like both. Although, for reasons mentioned in points #3 and #4 above (digestibility and arsenic content), I’ve gone entirely with white rice for quite a few years now.

But that’s just me… what about you?

Your answer can be more important than you think. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Take someone who thinks brown rice tastes horrible. Now tell them that in order to lose fat, be healthy or whatever else, it’s the only type of rice they should ever eat because it’s beneficial for those goals while white rice is detrimental to those goals (which you know by now is complete bullshit).

Now this person goes and forces himself/herself to start regularly eating a food they don’t actually enjoy eating. So even if it did provide magical benefits over white rice or other carb sources (which it doesn’t), those benefits would soon be overridden by the fact that they’re just not going to stick to a diet that they hate.

And if you’ve never been there before, forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t like on a daily basis will eventually become something you hate. Or maybe even an eating disorder as well.

Which is why I saved this point for last. People get all nuts about meaningless crap like the glycemic index and 1 extra gram of protein and clean vs dirty and blah blah blah, but seem to forget that the key to improving your body is actually sticking to your diet. And the key to sticking to your diet is designing it around your specific needs and preferences so it’s as enjoyable and sustainable for you as possible.

Additional details here: How To Choose The Best Foods For Your Diet

And here: The Best Superfoods

SUMMARY:

There is no winner in this category, as it depends on the individual preferences of each person. Only you can decide which one you like better.

Which Is Better: White Rice or Brown Rice?

Alright, so… what’s the final conclusion here? Here’s how I’d sum it all up.

Brown Rice vs White Rice

Are there differences between white rice and brown rice? Yup, definitely.

Are those differences likely to make any significant difference whatsoever in terms of body composition or health with all else (overall diet, training, consistency, etc.) being equal? Nope.

In fact, when you really compare the two, any differences that might be even close to significant (for example, digestibility and arsenic content) actually favor white rice over brown.

So which one is better? It’s a tie, and that tie is likely best broken based on your own personal needs and preferences. The rest doesn’t matter. Eat the one you like best and/or have less issues with eating.

If that’s white, awesome. If it’s brown, awesome. If it’s both… awesome.

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154 thoughts on “Brown Rice vs White Rice: Which Is Good or Bad, Healthy or Unhealthy?”

154 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. Both amusing and informative in equal measures. I’ve grown to like brown rice but definitely agree (and kind of suspected) that white rice isn’t bad at all plus in my opinion it tastes far better. So thanks for liberating me from the evil clutches of the brown rice 😉

    Just out of curiosity, what about wholemeal flour Vs white flour? I’m assuming “no contest” there?

    • White vs whole wheat/whole grain/brown (bread, flour, pasta, anything) would be pretty much exactly the same as this comparison. Every point (expect possibly arsenic content) would stand just about the same except for the issue of digestibility which would actually be worse (again… for some people) when it comes to foods like wheat.

      • Maybe there is more significance in this difference when we look specifically at white bread vs brown bread – considering what you said about eating after an overnight fast, and isolation… many people may have JUST white bread toast in this situation.

        What you said about how hardly anybody would eat a plate of white rice for breakfast is true, but just some white bread is more feasible – in this situation and this situation only, maybe the difference is more important? Would this be right?

  2. So if I’m taking what you’re saying further, should I even care about the glycemic index of things I eat as long as I’m balancing everything (i.e. not 100% pasta diet)? Or is this more specific to rice?

    I mean, it doesn’t affect me much anyway, but still after reading everything on both your diet and workout guides I for some reason still have that little bit of guilt when I choose the high GI stuff. Especially since I’m now baking breads and stuff, and that is much, much more difficult with non white flour.

  3. +1 for white basmati here (although I love brown rice).

    By the way, it never stops to fascinate me how many people I know are eating tons of brown rice while hating it only because of the “superior benefits”. I can’t guess how are they going to stick to their diets after 10 years hating 1, 2 or 3 of their meals every single day.

    Great article (as always) 🙂

    • Exactly, and you’ll see people doing this with all kinds of foods. And with all kinds of methods of eating (paleo, 6 small meals, IF, low carb, clean eating, etc.).

      It’s people doing things they don’t actually like (or need to be) doing to get benefits that don’t actually exist.

  4. This is AWESOME! I’m posting on my page, and in my bodybuilding group. Looking forward to all the bro-science attacks. People will make up anything to confirm their superior beliefs. Including, making up stuff that isn’t scientifically proven LOL!

  5. This was a very detailed and informative article. Thank you for posting it! I appreciate your candor and will definitely be enjoying some white rice in my future… that is, when I actually eat rice as my carbohydrate choice. : )

  6. I have been eating 1 cup of Basmati rice with 2 cups of EXTRA LEAN Hamburg with 2 cups of veggies for years…. Its the best meal for me a few hours before gym time…

  7. Wow… did not know that about arsenic content in rice. Raised in Louisiana, naturally we ate a lot of rice growing up. Interestingly enough, I cook for our older golden retriever (white rice and turkey) to go with her kibble. The kibble contains brown rice as an ingredient. We tried cooking brown rice for her, but she simply did not digest it well (and was often seen undigested in her poop). Switched to white rice and she’s fine with that. But, now I wonder about the brown rice in her dog food… and the potential arsenic content. Pet food companies (even the better ones) have such low standards and don’t even get me started on Chinese pet products that literally poison our pets. I like brown rice ok, but don’t know that I want to eat it and slowly poison myself now.

    • Yup, you’ll sometimes see it go the same way with humans.

      And if there’s only one thing I know about pet food… it’s that you should never buy anything that came from China.

  8. Thanks for the informative article. I’ve kinda drifted away from rice altogether in the last few years because I never much liked brown rice and white rice was supposedly bad. I’d like to include it back into my diet because it’s so damn versatile!

  9. I read this article while eating a bowl of white rice with my teriyaki chicken… yup, arsenic poisoning. See you at the hospital

  10. Regarding arsenic, how is the level of Lundberg brown rice cakes and nutribiotic brown rice protein powder? I eat these several times a day

    • Don’t remember off the top of my head (not sure if those specific products were tested)… check the links to the reports included earlier.

      If they weren’t tested, then you can assume it was lower than other brand’s similar products, but still higher than every white rice product.

  11. Amazing as usual. I’ve been having sushi -with white rice, of course- on most days and my results are spectacular!

  12. I’d be very careful with white rice. the biggest issue is that it has been bleached. I also would make sure it is not Gmo garbage. I’m also curious about wild rice. yes I do know it’s technically a grass…

  13. nice article.isn’t this site generally for training related stuff and acaloriecounter for nutrition? you seem to be writing only here

    • That was the original plan a few years ago, but it started to become a bit annoying/confusing after a while. New plan is I’m probably going to be writing most stuff here (training and nutrition), with the occasional nutrition related thing on A Calorie Counter.

      Or something like that.

  14. Great stuff. I’m looking forward to a comparison of sweet potatoes/yams vs. red or white potatoes. Even more interested in “chicken breasts with rib meat” vs. “99% fat free chicken breasts”. Seriously. The chicken debate could end up saving me money if it’s the one I’m rooting for. Thanks for educating us again.

    • Regarding potatoes, this one is quick and easy. Eat whatever the hell one you like best. I personally eat a ton of white potatoes every training day. Here’s an example. I eat sweet potatoes every once in a while, but I much prefer white over sweet… so I eat white way more often. Always with a vegetable and protein source… often a fat source too.

      Actually have some roasting as I type this. 😉

  15. Nice article man!

    To me white is better for 2 reasons. I get a little paranoic about the heavy metals and poison i eat, so the arsenic part is a big concern, the 2nd is that is much easier to me to come up with tasty meals that contain white rice, and brown rice is not that versatile.

    Regards!

  16. hey jay !! i would like to ask you a question ..
    I read a lot of articles about the cow joint or cartilage saying that the cartilage contains about 31 gram of protien for each 100g of cow cartilage so is it okai for a bodybuilder or an athlete to replace their source of protein which is for eg (skinless chicken breast and turkey) with these cartilage or joint ???

  17. hello, I have a question is it alright to still eat white rice at dinner if your trying to lose weight?

  18. i eat white rice more just because its more convienient as a side dish (and because my mum cooks it). If i eat brown rice it is usually the centre of the dish.

  19. awesome! thanks for writing this. this is the second article that says there is no significant different between nutritional values of white rice and brown rice, and it gives me a sense of relief because i’m from the philippines, and we eat rice every day. it’s difficult to find brown rice here. i don’t eat as much white rice now as i used to because i’m now limiting my intake of calories. it’s difficult to do away with white rice here in the philippines because it’s like our chief source of carbohydrates.

  20. I was an ardent believer in the supremacy of brown rice over white rice before this article, thOught it had more fiber, protein, and was overall better for you. This article was a great eye-opener, really well written and informative. Glad I stumbled across it

  21. What about the studies linking white rice with an increased risk in Type II diabetes and brown rice with a reduced risk?

    • I don’t know what specific study you’re referring to, but I can guarantee you that anything supposedly linking white rice to something bad and brown rice to something good is purely correlation, not causation.

  22. Good post i was wondering if you would recommend the keto diet and what is your preference on it. If you could make a page on it that would be killer. thanks man

  23. When I was young a foolish I actually believed brown rice was superior, nowadays I know better and I eat only white as I like the taste better anyway.

  24. Thanks for actually making more than 1 valid point. Too often people write and solely focus on one point. After all things considered in the information presented here, I can finally say I will now eat white rice.

    I never really liked brown rice by itself (But I do like noodles made from brown rice). So, I wouldn’t want to cook the brown rice everyday, hence skipping those calories, and having to get it from another source (which sometimes isn’t a healthier / better alternative for what I am looking to accomplish).

    It’s funny how little the actual difference really is as far as say protein. I have an easy solution for that, just take another bite of white rice and you are just about equal lol.

    Anyway, thanks again.
    Scott

  25. I have never enjoyed reading an article of any kind more than I did with this one. You won a fan girl here! I probably will read all of your articles now 😉 thanks for taking the time to do the research and write in such a pleasent, funny/sarcastic but great way! 😀 Greatings from Mexico 😉

  26. One of the finest and mind opening article to put an end to this debate.
    I am from India and white rice is staple in all Asian countries diet.

    White rice + chicken + veggies = BEST Post workout meal = GAINS

  27. So because white rice digests faster, is it safe to assume that people who don’t track calories and macros should avoid it because they’ll be hungry again sooner and therefore end up eating more calories throughout their day? Is it better for the average person to stick with brown rice because it keeps you fuller longer?

  28. I’ve become a huge fan of this website because I turned 30 and looking to stay led a healthier lifestyle. So far everything I have read on here is extremely well thought out with amazing writing and research to back it all up! Thank you so much!!!

    Chad

  29. Thank you so much for writing this article. Very informative, with a perfect dose of sarcasm.
    So glad to know that I can eat white rice with a clear conscience again!

  30. Hi, I’ve read some of your articles and they’re very useful. Thank you very much. Should I eat rice for breakfast and if I want to lose weight, should I eat white rice?

    • If it fits in with what your total calorie and macronutrient intake needs to be for fat loss to occur, then it’s fine. The same thing applies to pretty much every food, really.

      • Thanks. But I still feel confused if I should eat rice for breakfast because of the point “eating after an overnight fast” in your article.

  31. Not all white rice is good!
    In Asia, where the diabetes cases are high, we are told that white rice is bad because of the amount of starch in it,especially thai fragrant rice.
    Best white rice is long grain Basmati rice, which is less starchy

  32. Great comments!!!! I’ve been a rice eater for most of my life…we grew up on black beans and rice….I didn’t fall so quickly for the brown rice scam…..I appreciate the no bullshit view on the rice topic 🙂

  33. Very good comparision From childhood I am a white rice eater (afternoon and nights). Knowing brown rice is almost equal to white excites me. I am not a big fan of brown rice. Reduced my intake by almost one third inthe lunch time and not eating any rice for dinner.

    Thank You for the very nice comparisons.

  34. FANTASTIC!!!! Great article – – Great research! Most wonderful advice! I was influenced greatly by all the health hype to choose brown over white because of my health issues. But even though I’ve tried several times & cooked brown rice in the best possible way to make it softer, I still can’t get my taste buds to enjoy it. I grew up on white rice & LOVE white rice – and now because of your magnificent revelations – I can happily stay with WHITE! Universal thanks to you! 😉

  35. Amazing article. Well written. It has cleared some of the common misconceptions that we tend to have and are forced to believe. Thanks for this nice article.

  36. Your article, and a couple of others I have read, confirm that what was plaguing me all along was brown rice. Bloating, loss of energy, and sinus problems all disappeared when I switched back to white rice. Thanks for the contrasting point of view from the standard hype.

  37. Great article! I’m just going to comment on the glycemic index thing. It is measured that way as a control to determine the glycemic effect of a particular food. It is isolated determination as to not confound the results. Because if you take glucose after a meal with mixed variety, you can’t determine the exact GI of each and every food type. It has to be done one food type at a time and after a fast (or empty stomach) to isolate it’s effects.

    The effects of these in the grand scheme of things? Not so much if you also eat some other food other than brown or white rice that has the ability to increase your blood glucose dramatically.

    • Of course. But my issue isn’t with why the GI of a food is determined this way. It’s why this method of determining GI makes it virtually meaningless in the context of a typical mixed meal.

  38. I just mix white and brown equally and cook it that way. I love rice and have decided that is my best solution.

  39. One quick question for you…. what about those anti nutrients that are in brown rice. Don’t they prohibit us from being able to absorb the nutrients in the other foods that we are eating? Hense, making the white rice a better choice? Or is that again an insignificant amount of nutrients that we are talking about? I’m new to this debate. I’ve been eating brown rice for years and bad mouthing the white, only to recently find out that maybe I’ve had it all wrong.

    • Or do the anti nutrients prohibit us from being able to absorb the micronutrients of the brown rice only? So confusing…. so if that is the case, the the anti nutrients offset against the micronutrients that are in the brown rice giving it basically no nutritional value to us. Do I have that right?

  40. Let me guess, you have always liked white rice and didn’t care for brown………and it makes you emotionally vested.

  41. Thanks for the clarity, really good blog. Have been eating brown rice at home for ages (following low GI diet) but with a niggling doubt about all the people worldwide who survive well on white rice. Then I read that the Bulletproof diet recommends white rice only because of the phytate content of brown rice. You have covered the low GI aspect of this issue and added lots of other interesting info.When I eat in Indian restaurants they always serve white rice and now I can enjoy it without that little question mark hovering over the dish. I will be switching to white basmati after reading your blog, it is cheaper and quicker to cook too! One last question, which I shall google next, why is brown rice more expensive when it is the white which undergoes extra processing to remove the fibre?

  42. I think it important to remember that every grain of brown rice has white rice on the inside. I have always thought that the logic that white rice is empty carbohydrates devoid of nutrition is flawed; I always would eat jasmine rice with mounds of nutrient and fiber rich vegetables. I think your advice of seeing how your own body does is excellent. I find myself usually eating quinoa in the place of either type of rice for its protein content, speed of cooking and tender fluffiness. But I do enjoy brown rice especially short-grain brown and various varieties of white. They are all awesome foods.

  43. Thankyou so much for this well informed and written article. My parents are south asian and ive grown up with white rice all my life.
    Its a massive staple in my diet along with curry. I’m on a mission to lose weight and change my lifestyle and for ages i have been seeing people (mostly instagram fitness pages) brag about the benefits of brown rice and how its a good carb vs white rice. So i restricted myself from rice because i couldn’t stomach brown rice, and white rice was apparently bad. But i can’t live without my regular intake of rice and curry, so i thought okay in order to lose weight sacrifices will need to be made. So while meal planning i checked how much calories where in white rice vs brown and i was shocked that white rice had less calories than brown! The fibre content wasn’t significantly different either as you say. After reading this article i’m much more happier now knowing i don’t have to sacrifice my lovely white rice. Just learn to use it with other healthy foods to get the best out of its nutrition. Thankyou again

  44. Thank you for this article. Very well written and extremely easy to understand and follow. I love jasmine and basmati rice and will feel much better about eating it. I don’t dislike brown rice but definitely prefer jasmine or basmati. I was disappointed to learn about the arsenic…geez!

  45. Thank you so much for this intelligent article. I was recently diagnosed with malnutrition from not having enough protein. I started eating quinoa and brown rice because I read that they were better for you than white rice. Well my body does not digest either one of them. I have now developed constipation. After reading this article I am going back to my white rice. I will be taking my amino acids as well. Thanks again.

  46. What about the fact that brown rice is a source of complex carbs and white rice is a source of simple carbs? That seems to be the most important difference – slow energy burn vs a fast burn.

  47. Thanks for writing so clearly about this issue! I ate brown rice for decades and suffered from GI problems. Finally figured out it was the fructans in brown rice that caused the problem. Now I eat white rice and have good digestion and a happy tummy. I think brown rice goes rancid more quickly than white rice and that is not good either. Seems to me Asians figured this out ages ago and that’s why they favored white rice…it was the healthier choice! Makes sense to me to pay attention to ancient cultures and what they ate.

  48. Great article. I was sold on it being a toss-up. Then a few clicks below I saw WebMD article that said..
    ———-
    June 14, 2010 — Replacing white rice in your diet with brown rice may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

    The finding is important because the consumption of white rice in the United States has increased dramatically in the past few decades, and about 18 million Americans have type 2 diabetes.

    Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say eating two or more servings of brown rice weekly seems to be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, they report, eating five or more servings of white rice per week is associated with an increased risk.
    ——
    Are the risks based around the GI? Eating it alone and with nothing in your stomach?

    Or is this where brown rices wins this discussion?

    • The study this shitty webmd article is referring to is what scientists call a correlation study rather than a causation study. Meaning, there is a “correlation” between these things rather than a direct cause and effect.

      The reason why this matters is because you can find meaningless correlations between all kinds of things (e.g. if I punch you in the face today and you win the lottery tomorrow, I can write a paper showing a correlation between getting punched in the face and winning the lottery… even though we both know one did not cause the other.)

      In the context of this specific rice study, think of it this way:

      Who is most likely to eat brown rice? The answer is health-conscious people (not entirely, but certainly a majority). The kind of people who exercise and try to eat well (and probably think brown rice is healthier, which is why they are eating it) and live an overall healthier lifestyle than the average person does. AND are more likely to be at a healthy weight as a result of this lifestyle.

      Now, who is most likely to eat white rice? The answer is everyone else, including the average person who doesn’t exercise, try to eat well, or live an overall healthier lifestyle than most. AND are more likely to be overweight as a result of this lifestyle.

      Which means, the brown rice eaters are likely to have less health issues/be healthier in general as a result of ALL of the good things (exercise, eating well, etc.) they do every day, while the white rice eaters are more likely to represent a portion of the population that has more health issues/are less healthy as a result of ALL of the not-so-good things (lack of exercise, improper overall diet, etc.) they do everyday.

      Which means, a study showing that people who eat brown rice are healthier than people who eat white rice is only showing a correlation rather than causation… and what is actually causing this result is most likely to have nothing whatsoever to do with the type of rice people were eating and everything to do with everything else.

      • Can we dive into more about Type 2 diabetes and the GI in regards to the races of rice?

        We know that white rice does indeed have a higher GI and we also know that eating it with a meat causes an even higher overall spike in blood sugar/insulin. (taken from nutritionfacts.org)

        It is possible that the second part of the paragraph above is incorrect, but for the sake of my precious question, let’s say it is. Eating brown rice with meat would be safer for diabetics, no?

        Part 2

        Person A and Person B are about to eat dinner on a fed-state. If person A is eating white rice at dinner and Person B is eating brown (regardless of isolation), you are saying the GI doesn’t matter based on the fact that both persons have already eaten that day. That doesn’t make sense, because once the rice finally does start getting digested, depending on the color, insulin will respond differently.

        Please correct me if I am wrong.

        By the way, I do wish the fitness and nutrition community were more like you. This is the first place I visited that I did not feel like I was being forcefed a product or service. Thanks batman

        • 1. Eating any rice with with other foods (e.g. a source of protein, fiber, fat, etc.) will slow down the digestion and reduce the effect it has on blood sugar to the point where the type of rice that is a part of the meal isn’t going to matter because it’s now less about the GI of the rice and much more about the GI of the meal as a whole.

          2. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, I’m saying the way the GI’s of these foods were measured in the first place is in isolation after an overnight fast. So, if you’re eating rice with other foods while in a fed state, the actual GI of the rice in the moment you are eating it will be lower than the amount it was measured to be because the circumstances are much different.

  49. Fantastic article. I have been eating mainly brown rice for many years thinking that it was much better for me than the dreaded white stuff. I just returned from an amazing trip to Indonesia where I observed that white rice consumption during every meal was the norm. I also noted that the Indonesian people are not falling over dying due to their 3x/day intake of the white stuff. By the way, spent some time watching what it takes to plant, grow and harvest their rice. Almost all of this work is done by hand. The farmers work very hard from sunrise to sunset daily to eke out a barely livable wage. Rice is a food that is revered by the Indonesians (as well as other eastern cultures) for its historic and present day nourishing qualities.

    I would appreciate your comments about the topic of Gaba Rice. I understand that Gaba is a form of sprouted rice. Do you feel that this type of rice has any unique nutritional benefits that make it worth intentionally including it in my diet?

    Thanks and all the best…

    • Glad to hear it!

      Regarding Gaba rice, it’s not something I’ve ever eaten before, so I really couldn’t tell you much about it. Although, even without knowing a single thing about it, I can all but guarantee there’s nothing too special about it… nutritionally speaking.

  50. Hey Aworkoutroutine,

    what do you think of this take on white vs. brown rice? I’m no expert, and precisely because of that, I tend to
    see what the doctors, who are experts on nutrition, have to say about these things. And at least in this case a quite good case is made in favor of brown rice:

    • I didn’t look at the link, because I can all-but-guarantee it only mentions things I’ve already covered in this article or in the comments of this article.

      I will however add that you said “I tend to see what the doctors, who are experts on nutrition, have to say about these things.”

      One thing you should know about doctors… they are often the complete opposite of “experts on nutrition.” Some of the worst nutritional information I’ve ever heard in my life has come from the mouth’s of doctors. Feel free to consider them an expert in their chosen field of medicine if you’d like. But nutrition? They typically don’t know any more than the average person. Sometimes even less. Laughably so.

  51. First of all, great points! And I’m sorry if I’m going to repeat a point, that someone else have commented on already… I haven’t read all the comments…

    I couldn’t help noticing, that brown rice have 1gram more caloric content coming from fat than white rice have… So I would like to know why this isn’t worth mentioning, when it’s worth mentioning the fiber intake?

    I’ll assume that you most likely would reach the same result as with the fiber… That it doesn’t really matter… But knowing that most people are having diets that contains, much more fat than recommended… I would say, it’s worth mentioning… Even though it really doesn’t matter…

    Best regards and keep up the good work

    • 1 single gram of fat is completely meaningless in the context of someone’s overall diet and will not make any difference whatsoever one way or the other… so there’s no reason to mention it as a good or bad thing (or really even mention it at all).

      The same applies to fiber, which is why my mention of the 1 gram difference was nothing but sarcasm. 😉

  52. THANK YOU for telling me all this! I am not super smart to have known about all this research or Arsenic (who knew!?) but I am smart enough to read the macros on everything I eat, and when I read it on the both white and brown, I just wasn’t sure why this hullabaloo about brown rice being better! In the end, I would def prefer something that cooks in 15 minutes vs. something that takes 40.

  53. So after an overnight fast, consuming pure carbs ONLY such as rice or any other pure carb for that matter on meal 1, the GI Index would play a role and may effect body comp negatively?

    • It would effect blood sugar more that way, but as long as a person’s total calorie and macronutrient intake was what it needs to be for the day, it’s still not going to make any difference to body composition.

  54. I know this comment is coming way after this article was published, but what about soaking brown rice to reduce the phytic acid/anti-nutrients? I’ve recently discovered that I have slight digestive issues with brown rice compared to white rice, but rinsing and soaking seems like it would kill multiple birds with one stone (lowers arsenic content, improves digestibility and absorption of nutrients).

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