Brown Rice vs. White Rice – Which Provides The Most Nutrients for Strength

  • By: Dave Moffat
  • Date: December 13, 2023
Brown Rice vs. White Rice

When it comes to preparing for a bodybuilding competition, many athletes turn to the infamous “chicken and rice diet.” But did you know that there are over 40,000 types of rice in the world?

From classic white to nutty brown, there’s a wide variety of rice to choose from. What’s more, different varieties of rice contain varying levels of fiber, protein, and carbs.

So, whether you’re bulking up or cutting down, there’s a type of rice out there to help fuel your fitness goals.

The debate about brown rice vs. white rice nutrition has been ongoing for many years. Both of these rice types are staples in many cultures and cuisines. However, brown rice has emerged as the healthier option. This is due to its lower glycemic index and higher fiber content.

This makes brown rice a better choice for individuals looking for long-term health benefits. These include better weight management, blood sugar regulation, and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, bodybuilders and powerlifters swear by the muscle and strength gains that come from consuming white rice.

So, is brown rice just a health fad or a real nutritional powerhouse? Which one is the best for muscle building and strength gains?

Let’s unpack the science behind these claims and get some answers.

Is Rice the Best Carbohydrate Source?

For people who do bodybuilding, finding a good and affordable food that helps build muscles is very important.

Luckily, rice can solve both of these problems. It can help refill the body’s energy stores, which makes it a top choice for athletes doing bodybuilding.

You can make many different meals with rice, so it’s a flexible ingredient in any bodybuilder’s diet. Many athletes eat it for breakfast, before and after workouts, and even before bed when they’re trying to gain more muscle.

Rice is a common food for many people around the world because it’s versatile and has lots of health benefits.

This grain has a lot of carbohydrates. This gives quick energy for athletes, bodybuilders, and strongmen who need lots of carbs to perform their best.

Rice also has a lot of calories, which can be good for those trying to gain weight or build more muscle. Some people think white rice isn’t healthy. However, it’s important to remember that it has many carbs. Don’t ignore its health benefits.

Nutritional Value of White Rice

White rice is full of lots of important vitamins and minerals.

One cup of cooked white rice has 205 calories, 4.2 grams of protein, 44.5 grams of carbs, 0.6 grams of fiber, and 0.4 grams of fat. It also gives you a lot of the daily amounts you need for different things: 37% for manganese, 17% for selenium, 7% for phosphorus, 11% for iron, 23% for folate, 17% for thiamin, and 12% for niacin.

White rice is a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, and other small minerals that help keep your body healthy and strong.

Whether you need energy for your workouts or just want to eat better, adding white rice to your meals is a good way to get more nutrients.

What does science say?

When it comes to feeling full and not getting hungry, both white and brown rice work really well and are even better than a sugary drink.

Both kinds of rice have lots of B vitamins like thiamin, folate, and niacin. These are important for giving you energy, helping your body use food, and keeping your brain working well.

One B vitamin, called riboflavin, can help make you less sore after running a really long race if you take it as a supplement. If you don’t get enough B vitamins, it could make you not do as well during hard workouts.

Nutritional Value of Brown Rice

Choosing between brown and white rice can be tricky. But if you want to eat more nutrients, brown rice is the better choice.

Each cooked cup of brown rice has 216 calories, 5 grams of protein, 44.8 grams of carbs, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 1.8 grams of fat. So, brown rice gives you more important nutrients than white rice.

Brown rice has a lot of the daily amounts you need for things like manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, niacin, and thiamin. But remember, whether you should choose brown or white rice really depends on what your health and fitness goals are.

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So, whether you’re trying to build muscle and get stronger, or just keeping track of your nutrients, both types of rice can be good for your diet.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice in terms of dietary fiber

Brown rice is super healthy. Unlike white rice, which has the germ and bran taken out, brown rice keeps all parts of the grain, including the nutritious germs and bran.

Because of this, brown rice has a lot of fiber, giving you 3.5 grams per cup while white rice only gives you 0.6 grams for the same amount.

White rice’s glycemic index (a measure of how quickly food raises your blood sugar) is a bit higher than brown rice’s. But unless you have diabetes, these small differences won’t matter much when you’re thinking about what to eat.

It’s good to know that dietary fiber slows down how fast sugar gets into your body. So, brown rice is the better choice for those who want to keep their blood sugar levels healthy.

Research Studies

Switching from white rice to brown rice can really help your health, especially if you might get diabetes.

Research has found that eating brown rice can lower your blood sugar levels after meals. This can help protect you from problems with your blood vessels if you have diabetes.

Also, a type of brown rice that starts to grow again can improve things like your overall cholesterol, fasting blood glucose (your blood sugar level when you haven’t eaten), and levels of triacylglycerols (a type of fat in your blood) if you have diabetes. This is compared to eating white rice.

White rice has a high glycemic index, which means it raises blood sugar quickly. It also has low levels of fiber, lignans, vitamins, and other nutrients. Eating white rice has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and insulin resistance, when your body doesn’t respond well to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar.

So, even eating just one serving of white rice per day could raise your risk. But by switching to brown rice, you can make a simple but helpful change to your diet that could really benefit your health.

More Fiber Doesn’t Always Mean Better

For athletes, eating the right foods is super important to do their best, but sometimes the wrong foods can slow them down.

Foods with a lot of fiber, for example, can cause tummy troubles and make athletes perform worse. It’s thought that 30–50% of athletes have digestion problems before races or sports events. This often happens because they ate foods high in fiber or fat, had caffeine, or were stressed.

Fiber can help slow down how fast sugar gets into your bloodstream. However, athletes need to eat fast-acting carbs like dextrose, glucose, or honey after workouts. This will refill their glycogen (stored form of glucose) and help their muscles grow.

Choosing low-fiber, high-simple carb foods like white rice can be a better choice for quick energy. Brown rice, which digests slower, is an alternative. By being careful about what they eat, athletes can make sure they’re giving their bodies the best fuel to perform at their best.

White vs. Brown Rice B Vitamins

When you’re deciding between white rice and brown rice, think about the vitamins they have.

Brown rice has a lot more vitamin B than white rice. One cup of brown rice gives you 15% of the daily amount you need of niacin, 14% of vitamin B6, 12% of thiamin, and 6% of folate.

These vitamins are super important because they help make red blood cells, hormones, and cholesterol. Even though white rice doesn’t have as much of these B vitamins (except for folate), remember that one cup still gives you 23% of the daily amount you need. In comparison, brown rice only gives you 2%.

Choosing brown rice can be an easy way to get more nutrients and take advantage of the health benefits these essential vitamins offer.

What does science say?

Regular exercise is super important for keeping your heart healthy. You should know that doing a lot of intense workouts can raise your homocysteine levels. This can make you more likely to get heart disease.

A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that high-intensity workouts can deplete folic acid in your body. This shows that some athletes might need to take extra folic acid.

Folic acid is really important because it helps make DNA and helps your body break down amino acids. This can stop you from not having enough of certain nutrients and might even lower your risk of getting heart disease.

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It’s important to balance exercise and eating the right nutrients to keep your heart in the best shape. For people who don’t do really hard physical activity, getting folic acid from a balanced diet might be enough.

Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?

Did you know that about half of people in America don’t get enough magnesium? Magnesium is a super important mineral that helps with over 300 different reactions in your body.

It helps your body use calcium, keeps your bones strong, and can even make athletes perform better and have more energy. Brown rice has more magnesium than white rice, and people who are very active need even more magnesium than others.

If you want to do better in sports, some studies show that taking magnesium supplements could help lower your levels of cortisol and insulin. It might even help you jump higher and swing your arms better.

Magnesium also helps your body use glucose, which can help you feel less tired when you exercise. So, if you want your body to work its best, it might be a good idea to eat more foods with magnesium.

What about the Phytic Acid and Arsenic in Brown Rice?

Foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are often said to be good for you. But, it’s important to know they can also have some downsides.

These foods have something called phytic acid. This is an anti-nutrient that sticks to minerals and can stop the enzyme amylase from working. This might cause problems with your digestion, like bloating, constipation, and other tummy troubles.

Even though brown rice has more minerals than white rice, it also has more phytic acid. This takes away a lot of its good points. Plus, brown rice can have up to 80% more arsenic than white rice.

When you’re deciding what to eat, it’s important to think about the good parts and the bad parts and make smart choices.

Arsenic is a poison that’s naturally found in the environment. It’s been linked to some bad health problems. It can increase your risk of getting certain types of cancer, hurt your reproductive organs, and make you more likely to get heart diseases.

It can even affect how your brain works and stop certain reactions in your body. Even though it’s hard to completely get rid of arsenic from our food, even when we cook it really well.

Brown rice, which a lot of people think is healthy, is especially hard to get rid of arsenic from. It’s important to know about this problem and try to limit how much of this harmful substance you’re exposed to.

Our Verdict

Rice is a food that many people around the world eat all the time, and there’s been a lot of talk about whether white rice or brown rice is better.

The truth is, both kinds of rice have good things about them. White rice has been processed and doesn’t have as many nutrients, but it also has less arsenic and phytic acid, which can be bad for your health.

On the other hand, brown rice has more fiber and is more nutritious, but it also has some stuff in it that isn’t good for you. But, it’s good to remember that a lot of the nutrients you get from brown rice can also be found in other foods that don’t have arsenic and phytic acid.

It’s all about balance, and having either kind of rice can be a good part of a balanced diet. Whether someone likes white rice or brown rice better really depends on what they like and what their body needs.

Dave Moffat

Hi, I'm Dave Moffat the founder and Chief Editor of and certified International Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritionist. My passion has always been bodybuilding but with 15 years' experience in weight loss programs too, it's hard not to mention all that when you're working at your fitness level fullest (I hope). When Im not in the gym or spending time away from my family i often think about what advice would help others achieve theirs goals just like these inspired mine.