Sports Nutrition The Reason Athletes Eat White Rice Instead of Brown By Darla Leal Darla Leal Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Darla Leal is a Master Fitness Trainer, freelance writer, and the creator of Stay Healthy Fitness, where she embraces a "fit-over-55" lifestyle. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 27, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Fit articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and nutrition and exercise healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Mia Syn, MS, RDN Medically reviewed by Mia Syn, MS, RDN Mia Syn, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a master of science in human nutrition. She is also the host of Good Food Friday on ABC News 4. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Brown rice is nutritious 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 typically are not trying to lose weight and require lots of carbohydrates to fuel their bodies. Here's what you need to know. Why Do Bodybuilders Eat Rice? The goal of athletes such as bodybuilders is supplying adequate amounts of macronutrients to fuel extreme training and replenish severely depleted glycogen stores. Carbohydrate-rich foods like rice that rank high on the glycemic index provide a readily available source of carbohydrate for muscle glycogen synthesis. White rice plays a major part of this process and is considered excellent sports nutrition for these athletes. Even though eating white rice is considered less nutritious than its brown counterpart, athletes and weightlifters disregard any negative claims. They regularly consume white rice as an important part of their nutrition plans. One of the most popular meals for lifters is a large bowl of white rice combined with grilled chicken breast which provides lean protein. Endurance runners often load up on carbs with white rice before events. 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. For athletes, 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? Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 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 potential gastrointestinal (GI) issues, allergy symptoms, and blocking the ability to absorb micronutrients. 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. 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. For those training fewer 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 populace and everyday active person tolerating whole grains. Brown rice is a rich source of fiber and nutrients essential to a well-balanced healthy diet. 4 Sources Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Thomas DE, Brotherhood JR, Brand JC. Carbohydrate feeding before exercise: effect of glycemic index. Int J Sports Med. 1991;12(2):180-6. doi:10.1055/s-2007-1024664 Melin A, Tornberg ÅB, Skouby S, et al. Low-energy density and high fiber intake are dietary concerns in female endurance athletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016; 26(9):1060-71. doi:10.1111/sms.12516 Burke LM, Hawley JA, Wong SH, Jeukendrup AE. Carbohydrates for training and competition. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S17-27. doi:10.1080/02640414.2011.585473 Liang J, Han BZ, Nout MJ, Hamer RJ. Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitro soluble zinc in brown rice. Food Chem. 2008;110(4):821-8. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.02.064 Additional Reading Cermak NM, van Loon LJC. The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid. Sports Med. 2013;43(11):1139-55. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0079-0 Hurrell RF, Hurrell RF, Reddy MB, Burri J, Cook JD. Phytate degradation determines the effect of industrial processing and home cooking on iron absorption from cereal-based foods. Br J Nutr. 2002;88(2):117-23. doi:10.1079/bjnbjn2002594 By Darla Leal Darla Leal is a Master Fitness Trainer, freelance writer, and the creator of Stay Healthy Fitness, where she embraces a "fit-over-55" lifestyle. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from companies that partner with and compensate Verywell Fit for displaying their offer. These partnerships do not impact our editorial choices or otherwise influence our editorial content.