Brown Rice vs White Rice: Which Is Better For Bodybuilding?


One of the key nutrients for strength and energy is carbohydrates. Which is why rice, seeing as it is a great source of carbs, is a staple in most bodybuilders’ diets. So the question now remains, which type of rice is better for bodybuilding, brown or white?

When it comes to brown rice vs. white rice, brown rice is better for bodybuilding. It contains more fiber, fats, vitamins and minerals. Brown rice is better suited to providing energy and repairing damaged muscle tissue, eliciting more muscular hypertrophy.

This article will discuss:

  • The differences between brown and white rice. 
  • How these differences are relevant to bodybuilding, overall health and performance. 
  • The typical nutritional demands of bodybuilders during the different stages of their peaks and preparations. 
  • The best ways to incorporate brown rice into your regular diet. 

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

What Is the Difference Between Brown & White Rice?

Nutrient Brown Rice
(1/2 Cup Cooked)
White Rice
(1/2 Cup Cooked)
Calories 111 130
Protein 2.6 g 2.7 g
Carbohydrate 23.0 g 28.2 g
Fat 0.9 g 0.3 g
Fiber 1.8 g 0.4 g
B6 7% DV 5% DV
Thiamin 6% DV 1% DV
Niacin 8% DV 2% DV
Sugar 0.4 g 0.1 g
Calcium 10.0 mg 10.0 mg
Iron 0.4 mg 0.2 mg
Magnesium 43.0 mg 12.0 mg
Phosphorus 83.0 mg 43.0 mg
Potassium 43.0 mg 35.0 mg
Sodium 5.0 mg 1.0 mg
Zinc 0.6 mg 0.5 mg
Copper 0.1 mg 0.1 mg
Manganese 0.9 mg 0.5 mg
Selenium 9.8 mcg 7.5 mcg

One of the biggest mistakes a bodybuilder can make is to ignore the differences between brown and white rice. Too many people brush them off as if it’s more or less all the same.

Its far too common bodybuilders will downplay the difference between brown and white rice. They simply go for whichever happens to be in front of them at a given moment.

Bodybuilding is a sport that’s as much about your dietary habits as the work you put in at the gym, if not more so. As such, it would be very foolish to overlook the multitude of nutritional benefits that brown rice has to offer and which white rice lacks.

Truth be told, many bodybuilders and everyday people, in general, will eat white rice simply because it’s what they’ve always done, and for no other reason.

By the time you have finished reading this article, however, you will no longer have any reasonable justification for not making the switch to brown rice.

Let’s take a look at the major differences between brown and white rice.

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Whole Grain vs. Refined Grains

Grains are made up of three different parts: 

  • The endosperm 
  • The bran 
  • The germ

When a grain contains all three of these components, it’s referred to as a whole grain 1.

Brown Rice is a whole grain, but during the refining process of white rice, the bran and the germ are removed, and all that remains is the endosperm. This is done because it extends the shelf-life of white rice by removing the parts of the grain which have a propensity to expire 2.

The endosperm is the part of the grain that contains the carb. Whereas the germ and bran are the part of the grain that house the fiber and most of the beneficial nutrients.

White rice has most of the beneficial nutrients removed, while brown rice has everything you get from white rice plus more. Brown rice is also untampered with, which is why it’s more natural and processable by your body’s digestive system.

White rice will provide you with a boost of energy which you can translate to increased output in the gym. Although why miss out on those essential nutrients you could be getting from brown rice if you don’t have to?

You can only eat so much in a day and plan to reach a high level in the sport of bodybuilder. Therefore, it’s necessary to give yourself every advantage by optimizing each meal you consume.

Let’s now take a detailed look at the nutritional facts of white rice and brown rice side-by-side to further illustrate how vast the difference between them truly is.

The Nutritional Differences

It’s possible you’re still unsold on switching over from white rice to brown. Lets take a look at precisely what you will be missing out on in the nutrition department.

Brown Rice Is a Source of Fiber

For starters, while white rice contains practically no fiber. It’s a nutrient responsible for regulating gut health and controlling blood sugar levels. Brown rice contains roughly 1.8-grams of fiber per-100 grams (1/2 cup). White rice contains 0.4 grams 3.

The fiber in brown rice will normalize your digestive system, boost your metabolism and increase your ability to tone and sculpt.

A study 4 was conducted by the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the Texas Woman’s University. The researchers conclusively determined a high-fiber diet would improve weight loss and help people stick to their diet programs better.

Other Vitamins and Minerals

Besides being a vastly superior source of fiber to white rice, brown rice provides a better source of the following:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Thiamine
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Niacin
  • Fat
  • Natural sugars

All of these nutrients play a role in energy levels, metabolic efficiency and your body’s reparative ability.

The advantages for a bodybuilder who eats brown rice will have over one who eats white rice are not inconsequential or negligible by any stretch of the imagination. Your body needs these things to perform well and function.

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Nutritional Requirements for Optimal Bodybuilding Performance

Let’s take a look at what the typical bodybuilder’s dietary demands entail. Knowing this will allow us to see just how many of these nutritional needs are provided by brown and white rice.

The three macronutrients 5 of a balanced diet are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Together, they make up the bulk of your nutritional consumption and are the most direct nutrients for performance, strength and energy.

Regardless of whether a bodybuilder is in a cutting, bulking or maintenance phase, they need much protein to repair their muscles and elicit a hypertrophy effect. One-half of a cup of brown rice has 2.6 grams of protein compared to white rice’s 2.7 grams.

Bodybuilders need a ton of carbohydrates as well. The majority of their macronutrient balance should be made up of carbs. Brown rice contains 23.0 grams of carbs for every 1/2 cup and white rice contains 28.2 grams 6.

Lastly, we have fats. Brown rice contains 0.9 grams and white 0.3 grams of fat. 

The results for the three macros are almost even across the board with white rice getting the slight nod. The difference is not enough to make up for the difference in vitamins and minerals. The extra magnesium and fiber in brown rice helps control blood sugar levels.

In addition, eating whole grains, like brown rice, has been shown in studies to lower blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes 7.

How To Incorporate Brown Rice Into Your Bodybuilding Diet

While brown rice offers a wide array of bodybuilding benefits. The time of day when you eat it and how you incorporate it into your diet will also play a significant role in its effectiveness.

One of the best times to eat brown rice for peak performance is approximately one hour before a workout. This will give you a marked increase in energy and allow you to crush it during your entire session.

In addition, brown rice is a good post-workout meal for replacing the nutrients lost in the gym. Try avoiding having rice first thing in the morning as it can be heavy on your stomach and don’t eat rice before bed.

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Wrapping Up Brown and White Rice

This article may have put to rest an age-old debate on which is better between brown rice and white rice, specifically for bodybuilding. Brown rice is better than white rice for bodybuilding because it contains everything white rice does, plus much more.

Brown rice has much more fiber. It’s an equal protein source, contains a greater amount of fat and many vitamins and minerals completely absent from white rice.

Make the switch to brown rice to discover a whole new world of bodybuilding gains!

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Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Oldways Whole Grains Council: Definition Of A Whole Grain[]
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Whole grains and public health[]
  3. NutritionData: White Rice[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Macronutrients and Human Health for the 21st Century[]
  6. NutritionData: Brown Rice[]
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of whole grains on insulin sensitivity in overweight hyperinsulinemic adults[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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