The Reason Athletes Eat White Rice Instead of Brown

Consuming Safe Carbohydrates is a Better Choice

Brown rice is good for you and a recommended food to improve eating habits and overall health. However, athletes often follow different nutritional guidelines under sports nutrition. This includes eating white rice as a primary carbohydrate source for quick energy and glycogen replenishment. Athletes are doing more than just trying to lose weight and require lots of carbohydrates to fuel their body. 

Even though eating white rice is considered unhealthy, athletes and weightlifters disregard any negative claims. They regularly consume white rice as an important part of their nutrition plans. The goal of the athlete and lifter is supplying adequate amounts of macronutrients to fuel extreme training and replenish severely depleted glycogen stores. White rice plays a major part of this process and is considered excellent sports nutrition for these athletes.

It can feel like a full-time job for athletes and lifters to beef up athletic performance with nutrition. Carbohydrates like white rice are essential to fuel physical training. Carbs also replenish muscle glycogen stores after extreme workouts. One of the most popular meals for lifters is a large bowl of white rice combined with grilled chicken breast. Endurance runners often carbo load with white rice before their events. It has become a known fact that white rice is acceptable and preferred nutrition for many athletes. 

According to the Journal of Sports Sciences, carbohydrate-rich foods ranking high on the glycemic index provide a readily available source of carbohydrate for muscle glycogen synthesis. Intense workouts significantly deplete sugar (glycogen) in your muscles and eating the right carbohydrates are important to replenish what has been used. Athletes prefer white rice as a great carbohydrate choice to accomplish this goal. 

White rice ranks high on the glycemic index. This is a score given to how foods affect blood sugar and insulin levels. According to an article published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, knowing how to improve carbohydrate availability during prolonged exercise is essential. This is why carbohydrate consumption research to benefit athletes has dominated the field of sports nutrition. 

Why White Rice?

Several types of rice
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Informed athletes and lifters recognize the high glycemic value of white rice to provide quick fuel for hard workouts and facilitate muscle recovery. Unlike brown rice, white rice doesn’t come with negative drawbacks of gastrointestinal (GI) issues, allergy symptoms, and blocking the ability to absorb micro-nutrients.

Brown rice and other whole grains contain phytic acid (phytate). Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient binding to essential minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium preventing our body from absorbing them.

Phytic acid is located in the bran of the grain. The milling process used to change brown rice to white rice removes the phytate. This is probably one of the only times where refining a food potentially has a positive value. This is especially beneficial for carb hungry weightlifters and athletes wanting to refuel without stomach upset.

Continuing research is ongoing for degrading phytic acid in brown rice and whole grains. Some studies are also finding antioxidant benefits in phytate. This could potentially increase the number of safe carbohydrates for competitive athletes.

White Rice is a Safe Carbohydrate

Athletes don't have time to worry about gastrointestinal (GI) issues or allergies that may accompany consuming brown rice. Brown rice has more fiber and those lifters suffering from food sensitivity may have an issue with eating whole grain.

Extreme exercise requires eating lots of carbs. Its recommended athletes consume 60g/h of carbohydrates for prolonged exercise lasting more than two hours. White rice is considered a safe starch to consume prior to exercise, easy on the stomach, and has been shown to meet sports nutrition recommendations.

White Rice for Workouts

According to USA Rice Information, rice contains more carbohydrates than potatoes for the same serving size. Parboiled, converted, and instant white rice is suggested for pre and post-workout meals. Consuming white rice ensures the body is properly fueled for the competitive athlete.

Although white rice is a great alternative for lifters and athletes, it may not be the best option for sedentary people. Also, those training less than 4-days per week or suffering from a metabolic disease, brown rice is considered a better choice.

Brown rice is still a healthy nutrient dense food. It's recommended for the general populous and everyday fitness person tolerating whole grains. Brown rice is a rich source of fiber and nutrients essential to a well-balanced healthy diet

Sources:
Burke LM et al., Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery, Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004

Cermak NM et al., The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid, Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013

Hurrell RF et al., Phytate degradation determines the effect of industrial processing and home cooking on iron absorption from cereal-based foods, British Journal of Nutrition, 2002

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