Is Rice And Beans Diet Good For Weight Loss? From Dietitian

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 7, 2023
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As a medical doctor, I often get involved in my patients' conversations with a dietitian. At a recent meeting, one of them was determined to focus heavily on eating rice and beans daily to lose weight.

It was an interesting idea, but the dietitian raised a few concerns and highlighted that it wasn’t as simple as eating rice and beans.

So, I got him to help me with some background research into a rice and beans diet to see what kind of advice we should give to our clients and readers.

Here's what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Rice and beans diet can support weight loss due to its balanced macronutrient profile and satiating nature.
  • This diet provides essential amino acids, fiber, and other nutrients, making it a wholesome choice for those aiming for health and weight management.
  • One serving of beans and rice offers 19.9 g of high-quality, low-fat protein, which is 40 percent of the daily value, and also provides significant dietary fiber.
  • While rice and beans are a nutritious part of a balanced diet, I believe it's essential to diversify meals with other foods to ensure a comprehensive intake of all necessary nutrients and vitamins.

Are Beans And Rice Good For Weight Loss?

A collection of beans and rice in a bowl

Yes, beans and rice are good for weight loss if taken in moderation, as they contain the right macro and micronutrients.

You should remember that rice and beans are still carbs and combine them with sufficient exercise and not go overboard with the total daily amount.

That being said, they contain many complex carbs if you choose the right ones, which is essential for muscle health.

What that means is that the energy contained in them is classed as having a low glycemic index (GI) [1]. As a result, it takes the body more time to process the carbs and turn them into glucose.

And that will ensure that you don’t end up with blood sugar spikes that would otherwise contribute to weight gain rather than loss [2].

But rice and beans also contain a good amount of plant protein. And the best thing about combining the two into your daily meal plans is that this will give you a complete amino acid profile [3].

“One serving of beans and rice provides 19.9 g, or 40 percent DV, of high-quality, low-fat protein. An excellent source of dietary fiber, beans provide 13.1 g (52 percent DV), but rice also contributes a small amount (1.4 g or 6 percent DV).”

- Sandi Busch, Writer at

What Does This Diet Involve?

A rice and bean diet for weight loss involves adding these two ingredients to as many of your daily meals as possible. I included it at least three times per day when I tried it.

It doesn’t mean you should only eat beans and rice, as that would mean you don’t take in enough other nutrients.

So, you must find clever ways to add them to your meals [4].

For example, you could add a cup of cooked beans to a salad at lunchtime. And then cook some wild rice for your evening dinner.

And maybe some beans can go into your morning green smoothie as well. Just be adventurous, and you’ll find your favorite options.

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Balancing Macronutrients in a Rice and Beans Diet

Rice and beans provide four elements to your diet that are essential for muscle development and healthy habits:

  1. Protein Balance: Beans and rice deliver all the essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth.
  2. Carbohydrate Intake: Rice is your primary carb source. Adjust portions based on your energy requirements.
  3. Healthy Fats: Though low in fat, enhance your meal with healthy fats like olive oil or seeds.
  4. Fitness Goals Approach: For muscle gain, add more beans. For weight loss, be mindful of carb intake.

Best Types Of Rice For Weight Loss

Top view of brown rice

From my research, it's clear that not all rice is created equal when it comes to weight loss.

That white rice from your local store? It's got a high GI, around 69, which is pretty close to sugar [5].

Conversely, brown or wild rice has a GI below 50. Its carbs slowly turn into glucose, preventing those pesky blood sugar spikes. And yep, avoiding those spikes is a biggie if you're trying to shed pounds.

The thing is, whole-grain rice, like brown, wild, and black, is the way to go. Thanks to their natural bran and germ layers, they're packed with essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Plus, the extra fiber keeps you full, making it easier to stick to a calorie-conscious diet.

So, if you're on a weight loss journey, these whole grain options are your best bet to reap rice's benefits.

Best Types Of Beans For Weight Loss

My research gave me similar insights to beans. Some have a higher GI value, and knowing which ones to choose is key to achieving your weight loss goals.

I suggest you start with kidney, black, navy, and pinto beans. They are low GI and easy to introduce into meal plans [6].

I tend to have all four of them in my pantry, along with things like chickpeas. And that helps me change things around daily and not get bored with them.

They are great for adding to salads, stir-fries, and just as a side instead of pasta.

By diversifying your bean options, such as incorporating black beans, you can enjoy a variety of flavors and maximize the nutritional benefits while working towards your weight loss goals.

Digestive Health Benefits

Rice and beans contribute to a healthy digestive system in three ways:

  1. Rich in Fiber: Both rice, mainly brown or whole grain varieties, and beans are high in fiber. This aids digestion, supports a healthy gut, and can help prevent constipation.
  2. Supports Gut Bacteria: The fiber in beans is a prebiotic, nourishing, beneficial gut bacteria.
  3. Prevents Digestive Disorders: Consuming rice and beans reduces the risk of digestive problems like IBS or diverticulitis.


Can You Survive on Just Rice and Beans?

No, you can’t survive on just rice and beans. While they contain plenty of carbs and protein, as well as micronutrients, you’ll be missing essential fat and many types of minerals and vitamins.

Is It Healthy to Eat Beans and Rice Every Day?

Yes, it is healthy to eat beans and rice every day. You can easily add them to every main meal of the day, and they provide a great filler to make you feel full for longer.


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