Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Which One is Better for You?

We’re often advised to skip white potatoes, bread and rice and instead opt for the healthier sweet potatoes, whole grain bread and brown rice. But what exactly makes “brown” better than “white,” and is the difference really that substantial?

White rice nutrition

White rice is often labeled as “empty calories” because it offers little nutritional value. But when comparing the nutrition facts on white and brown rice, both types have nearly the same amount of calories, total fat, carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Brown rice does contain more protein and fiber and less calories than white rice, but don’t get too excited. For most brands, it usually only provides about one gram more of protein and fiber and 10 calories less than white rice.

Calories in white rice

The calories in a serving of white rice will vary depending on the kind of rice. A typical serving size of jasmine white rice is 0.2 cups dry. One serving of white rice is 160 calories. One serving of white rice macronutrients are 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0.5 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein.

Brown rice nutrition

So why do we hear so many good things about brown rice? Well, brown rice contains the hull and bran, which gives the rice that nutty texture and makes it rich in protein, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber and potassium. The refining process white rice goes through strips away the outside shell, taking most of the nutrients with it.

Brown rice calories

The caloric and macronutrient breakdown of brown rice will depend on the type of brown rice. The calories in 0.8 cup of cooked brown rice is 150 calories. The macronutrients of 0.8 cup of brown rice is 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fat and 3 grams of protein.

Brown rice vs white rice

Although their nutrition labels are seemingly similar, the differences between white and brown rice add up. Those two less grams of carbohydrates and one gram more of fiber in brown rice can pay off when it comes to fueling our bodies the right way. Of course, rice alone doesn’t provide the nutritional benefits your body needs after a trip to the gym, so add some protein and fiber to the mix for a mighty, balanced meal. 

Emily is a recent graduate and proud Midwesterner who just moved to the big city to start her career in magazine journalism. When she isn't commuting between Brooklyn and Manhattan, she enjoys browsing bookstores for her next read, sipping chai tea lattes at local coffee shops, and playing tourist in the city she always dreamed of living in.