Brown Rice & Weight Loss

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A healthy diet for steady weight loss should be made up of a variety of foods -- but it’s true that some can be more effective than others. Although brown rice isn’t especially low in calories, its satiation qualities and unique nutritional profile give it the potential to help you slim down.

Nutrition Facts

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of cooked brown rice, which comes from about 1/4 cup of dry rice, has 215 calories, 5 grams of protein, 1.75 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbohydrates and 3.5 grams of fiber. The same amount of cooked white rice has 205 calories, 4.25 grams of protein, 0.5 gram of fat, 45 grams of carbs and 0.6 gram of fiber. More differences lie in the nutrition content. Brown rice has more than twice the amount of phosphorus as white rice, almost three times the amount of iron and four times the amount of magnesium.

Weight Loss and Satiation

Satiation, the sensation of feeling full and satisfied after eating, is an important factor in weight loss. If you feel satiated, you may not eat as many calories at a meal and you may even experience fewer cravings and eat less throughout the day. The two nutrients responsible for brown rice’s powers of satiation are slow-acting complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. When you eat a food that is rich in fiber, the product expands as it comes into contact with liquid in your digestive system, and you feel fuller and more satisfied. Fiber is also a factor in lowering high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels, both of which are often linked to obesity.

Science Results

In the results of a study published in “Nutrition Research” in 2008, subjects who primarily consumed a mixture of brown rice and whole-grain black rice over a six-week period lost more weight and more body fat than subjects who consumed mainly white rice. There is also evidence that even isolated components of brown rice could have benefits for weight control. In a 2011 “Nutrition Research” article, the authors outlined the results of a study that measured the relationship between byproducts of brown rice fermentation and waist circumference. Subjects who received the brown rice byproduct enjoyed a greater reduction in waist circumference over a 12-week trial period than subjects who received a mixed grain product.

Factors and Limitations

How much weight you can lose and how long you can keep it off depend on many factors, including your age, metabolic rate, overall diet and level of activity. Eating brown rice is only one small part of a successful eating plan for weight loss, and it is affected by how much you eat and what you add to the rice. A big pat of butter, for example, could essentially negate many of the rice’s nutrition benefits by adding calories, saturated fat and cholesterol without many vitamins. Before you make any major changes to your eating plan, consult your doctor.