The debate between white rice and brown rice has been on for decades, and it looks like it won’t subside any time soon either. Brown rice is often recommended by nutritionists and dieticians because it is a simple whole-grain choice, whereas white rice is not as great given its high glycemic index and low fiber content.
But this is not the opinion in the world of sports nutrition, where the white rice variety is preferred over the brown one. Bodybuilders, especially, are required to eat white rice as a primary carbohydrate source and also to replenish their muscle glycogen content.
Also, there is the very important fact that bodybuilders are typically not looking to lose weight, and they need lots of carbohydrates after their intense workouts. For them, white rice is the most suitable option.
- White rice is preferred over brown rice by bodybuilders because white rice does not contain phytic acid. Phytic acid can cause gastrointestinal issues.
- White rice is an easier and better source of easy digestible carbohydrates.
- White rice helps in restoring muscle glycogen concentration lost during workouts.
- It is an ideal meal for pre and post-workout as it provides the athlete’s body with enough fuel to burn for optimal training and muscle growth.
- Most bodybuilders often rely on a diet containing white rice.
Is White Rice Good For Bulking?
Yes, white rice is good for bulking up. Bodybuilders who are looking to bulk up have to consistently keep their bodies in a calorie-surplus state. Increasing fat intake for the sake of consuming lots of calories is not a wise practice and neither is the consumption of some types of carb foods such as sugary or sweet stuff.
This is where white rice comes in as a safe carb source. It is also a versatile food option that is easily digested and happens to be quite affordable. Due to its high GI score and fast absorption rate, it can be consumed before and after intense workout sessions.
In terms of macronutrients, white rice is high in carbohydrates and low in protein or fat.
Eating lots of carbs and keeping the glycogen stores replenished is absolutely necessary for bulking up. In simple words, if you do not have the energy to perform well in the gym, progressive muscle gain will be a problem.
There is also the issue of digestibility of a meal that can aid in muscle growth. White rice happens to be a processed version of brown rice and has a low fiber content. While fiber is essential, it is also more challenging to digest. Especially for some people like hard gainers or those with stomach problems like bloating, white rice is easier to digest while also not making one feel too full.
Is it Good to Eat White Rice after a Workout?
Yes, rice happens to be an ideal carbohydrate for after-workout consumption. Want to know why? The answer is simple.
An intense workout generously expends muscle glycogen to fuel your body and also increases levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol. This means that it is the ideal time to have a meal that will replenish your glycogen stores quickly. And for that, you need to have something that is easily digested. White rice checks out all the boxes for a perfect post-workout meal.
Some fitness enthusiasts and sports dieticians may even advise you to concentrate your carb intake before and after workouts so that it can get easily spent and digested. According to this review,  posted in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, consuming carbohydrates before and after a workout can improve the effectiveness of the workout and aid in recovery afterward.
Why do Bodybuilders Eat White Rice?
The goal of bodybuilders who train hard daily is to supply their bodies with enough macronutrients to support their hardcore workout sessions and replenish all the glycogen that is lost through it. Here are a few reasons why bodybuilders eat white rice:
Good Carbohydrate Source
White rice is an easy source of carbohydrate that is also easily digested, and this makes it an ideal meal for muscle glycogen synthesis. That is why it is important to consume carbohydrates before and after a workout. The amount of consumption should be determined according to the intensity of the workout and your fitness goals.
The goal here is to quickly replenish the athlete’s endogenous (present within the body) carb storage. Carbohydrates play a crucial role in high-intensity workout sessions that last for more than 90 minutes. Additionally, they are proven to enhance performance in shorter bursts of exercise as well .
Unlike Brown rice, white rice does not pose any potential gastrointestinal issues, allergy symptoms, or blocking the capacity to absorb micronutrients.
Brown rice contains phytic acid, which acts as an anti-nutrient binding agent and prevents our body from absorbing essential minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Better for Food Sensitive Athletes
White rice has a much lower fiber content than brown rice which makes it ideal for food-sensitive athletes. It is considered a safe carbohydrate and bodybuilders do not have to worry about Gastrointestinal issues often associated with consumption of high amounts of fiber.
The required amount of fiber can easily be taken in small amounts from other food sources. This aspect makes white rice a better food source to eat for carb loading that bodybuilders often do shortly prior to competitions. Although, carb loading before matches only has a theoretical rationale but remains understudied .
The easy digestibility of white rice makes it a really convenient meal that can be eaten around the workout window. Practically speaking, 2 hours or more of moderate physical activity significantly lowers muscle glycogen stores and you need plenty of rest along with a high-carb meal to restore the lost glycogen.
This is why white rice is a much better pre and post-workout alternative to complex carbs such as whole-wheat pasta, oats, and such. While these also have macronutrients, they cannot be digested as easily and do not contribute much to recovery after a workout. Some vegetables are also a carb source but they also contain fiber which slows down digestion.
Thus, no matter what you eat throughout the day, the window just before and after a strenuous workout should be reserved for an easily degestible carb and protein rich food, especially when your goal is to bulk up and build more muscle.
- Helms, E. R., Aragon, A. A., & Fitschen, P. J. (2014). Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11, 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
- Thomas, D. E., Brotherhood, J. R., & Brand, J. C. (1991). Carbohydrate feeding before exercise: effect of glycemic index. International journal of sports medicine, 12(02), 180-186. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-1024664
- Burke, L. M., Hawley, J. A., Wong, S. H., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2013). Carbohydrates for training and competition. Food, Nutrition and Sports Performance III, 17-27. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20