Lots of my meals these days include rice. It’s so quick and easy, goes with everything, and in my opinion, there is just nothing better than organic basmati rice with ghee. There are many misconceptions about rice, and carbohydrates in general, but they do so much for our bodies.
CARBOHYDRATE CRASH COURSE
Carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy, and 100% necessary to fuel ourselves properly. Since getting more serious about strength training (check out my 8-week gym guide), I like to use carbs strategically to support performance, recovery, and muscle growth. Eating complex carbs 2-3 hours before strength training is great, or after a workout to support recovery. I like to lean into complex carbs because they require more work for the body to break down, leaving you more satisfied. For example: sweet potatoes, legumes, oats, grains, etc. Simple carbs cause a quicker spike in blood sugar (usually followed by a crash if eaten alone) which isn’t the best choice if you’re sitting at your desk all day, but a great choice if you’re headed to the gym – you’re supplying your body with fast acting glucose as fuel for your workout. Simple carbs include white bread, white flour, sugar beverages, honey, pastries, fruit juices, etc.
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BROWN RICE VS WHITE RICE
There is a super simple difference between white and brown rice. All rice varieties have the same makeup, but are processed differently: brown rice is the entire rice grain, including the bran (the fibrous outer layer) and germ (the nutritious core); white rice is further processed to remove the bran and the germ.
As with anything that is ‘whole grain’ (includes the bran and germ), brown rice is a more complex carb than white rice: it is more nutritionally dense than white rice, including more calories, more fiber, more protein, fat, and carbs per serving. This makes brown rice a great choice for when you need a complex carb – something that will digest slower, keep you fuller for longer, and not cause a spike in blood sugar.
White rice digests as a simple carb – there is less fiber, so it provides quick energy to the body. When paired with a protein, vegetables and high-quality fat sources (a salad, sautéed veggies, broccolini, avocado, olive oil, etc), digestion is slowed and a blood sugar spike is prevented.
IS BROWN RICE BETTER THAN WHITE RICE?
White rice gets a bad reputation – because it’s not a whole grain, and it’s white coloring, it’s often dismissed as the inferior counterpart to brown rice. From my perspective and what I learned as a practicing dietitian, is that the power of pairing foods and balancing your plate is far more influential than a single ingredient, especially a whole-food source like rice.
Long answer short, no – brown rice isn’t inherently better than white. Complex carbs (brown rice) have a place in a balanced diet, just as simple carbs (white rice) do. Personally, I prefer white rice! It’s taste is more appealing to me than brown rice, and I find that I have an easier time digesting white rice, which makes it the better choice for me. I might make a different choice if I were sitting down to eat a bowl of plain rice, but as part of a meal, carbs are a necessary part of providing my body with fuel and energy, and by balancing my plate I can avoid a spike in blood sugar.
So when choosing between brown and white rice, know that both are a good option as a carbohydrate as part of a balanced plate.
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HEALTHY MEALS WITH WHITE RICE
If you prefer brown rice, you can swap that in for the white rice in any of these recipes. Sharing a few of my go-to meals that include white rice to show you how I balance my plate.
Looking for more healthy recipes? Check out my New York Times Best Selling Cookbook, Rachael’s Good Eats. 110+ easy, laid-back, nutrient-rich recipes.