Article contributed by Ressie Jane
Within the fitness community, few foods can divide opinions like rice. Due to its high carbohydrate content, most fitness enthusiasts tend to avoid rice for fear of weight gain. While this concern is not unfounded, reports on Men's Health explain that our bodies rely on carbs for the energy they need to function, especially in highly physical activities. Incorporating rice into a well-balanced meal can thus improve rather than deter a workout routine. So what exact benefits can rice contribute to pre- and post-workout meals?
Provides sustainable energy
Consuming rice pre-workout can provide your body with the energy it needs to operate at its best. Rice has a moderate glycemic index, meaning it is digested slowly and steadily replenishes glycogen levels. Medical studies indicate that this allows the body to power through a sustainable amount of energy with less fatigue, thus boosting performance. As discussed in our guide on "How to Fuel Your Body Before, During, and After Workouts", take care to eat an hour before exercising to ensure proper digestion. Since rice is easy to prepare, this should be no problem. Indeed, appliances like the Cuckoo rice cooker prepare rice and keep it warm with no fuss, so you don't have to worry about hovering over your stove. Since rice cookers can also help you cook larger batches of rice, you can easily meal prep this energy-rich grain.
Promotes muscle recovery
Rice is also an excellent source of nutrients, including protein, vitamins B and E, and potassium. These contribute to muscle health by preventing damage as you exercise and boosting recovery afterward. Think Rice emphasizes that these nutrients keep blood sugar and glycogen stores high, decreasing the likelihood of injuries. This makes a compelling case for rice, but it doesn’t have to be bland. Try pairing rice with other protein-rich food, such as chicken, fish, or eggs.
Alternatively, you can explore protein shakes. It may seem odd to blend rice, but high-powered machines like the Vitamix blender capably produce smooth and silky consistencies. Just throw in some fruit, vegetables, or even our Vegan Protein Powder for an enjoyable drink.
Supports weight management
As part of a healthy and balanced diet, rice can help you reach your ideal weight rather than derail you from it. Among the different varieties, brown rice is especially high in fiber, which can benefit those looking to lose weight. Fiber slows down digestion speeds, making you feel full longer and thus desire to eat less. In addition, since the goal of weight loss is to shed more calories than what is eaten, having a high metabolism rate is important. Including red rice in meals can contribute to this, as it is rich in manganese. This mineral improves the body’s metabolism by burning calories more quickly, giving you extra energy to sweat it out.
Helps moderate health
Rice can also keep your health in check. A Food Science & Nutrition publication found that antioxidants present in rice, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, contain anti-inflammatory properties and reduce the risk of stroke and chronic diseases like heart conditions and cancer. Black rice, in particular, is rich in antioxidants, making it an ideal option for those with digestive issues. This is because it decreases feelings of bloatedness and aids bowel movement. Further, those with diabetes can consume rice in moderation by including brown rice in meals. As a fiber-rich food, brown rice provides better control over blood sugar and helps to lower cholesterol levels.
Including rice in your pre- and post-workout meals doesn’t have to be scary. With the right understanding of its benefits and the right approach, it can be a valuable and versatile source of sustenance to get you going.