Rice protein has been discounted by many and even relegated to the ‘second division’ by some as a suitable protein supplement. This, it has to be said, is mostly amongst those who look to supplementation for muscle building. For those looking for a protein supplement to help them reach their weight loss goals, it is extremely popular. Let’s take a look at the benefits and possible drawbacks of making rice powder a regular addition to your diet.
Suitable For Vegetarians and Vegans
Rice protein supplement is an excellent choice for both vegetarians and vegans. Interestingly, it has a higher Protein Efficiency Ratio (or PER) than soy protein. PER is a way of expressing how easy it is for the body to absorb and use the protein contained within it. Although rice comes behind egg which has the highest PER rating at 3.99 and milk protein at 3.45, it significantly outperforms soy with 80% of the protein being digested after four hours, compared with only 57% for soy protein. (Source is here)
Hypo-Allergenic: It is considered to be a hypo-allergenic product making it suitable for anyone with food sensitivities or allergies.
Suitable For Celiacs: For anyone who is gluten intolerant or Celiac, it is also a good alternative to wheat protein supplements because it contains absolutely no gluten. This also makes it a good addition to gluten-free breads to increase the protein content.
Suitable for Lactose Intolerance: The higher PER rating of rice when compared with soy makes it a good choice for those who are not vegetarians or vegans but who have allergies or digestive problems which make consuming egg or milk protein products containing lactose uncomfortable at best, if not downright impossible.
It Tastes Good!
Another point that makes rice a really popular choice as a source of protein supplementation is the fact that it tastes good. You can read many reports about the bad taste of casein and some hydrolyzed whey products. This means that the manufacturers have to work hard to add flavors that will mask the taste – unless you are a purist and insist on taking the unflavored kind like medicine (“it tastes bad but I know it’s doing me good!”).
Often these additions include sugar, artificial sweeteners or other flavorings which those on a natural, organic diet will want to avoid. Rice protein has a naturally mild flavor and can be consumed, just as it is without the need for any other artificial ingredients to make it more palatable.
Having said all that, some people have said that they find rice protein to have a slightly bitter or even ‘chalky’ taste – we have definitely not found this to be the case with our recommended products below, but if it is an issue for you with another brand, you can use it in baked goods to increase protein content or add the plain product to fruit smoothies and shakes.
Which Product Do We Recommend – and Why?
We wholeheartedly recommend the range of rice protein products from Nutribiotics
In addition to their Vegan product, they also make a certified organic product. This, has the same great 80% protein content but also has a Kosher certification and guarantees to be made containing only non GMO rice which has been grown without any pesticides or herbicides.
In addition, their products are very low carbohydrate because the process they use effectively isolates the protein from the rice. However, buyers need not have any concerns about chemicals being used to achieve this, because the process Nutribiotics uses does not rely on chemicals. Instead, natural enzymes are used which ‘digest’ the carbohydrate content, leaving a protein isolate. This method of using enzymes is considered a raw food process which therefore makes the finished product suitable for a Vegan diet.
The Organic product is more expensive than the Vegan product; However, if you are not following a strict organic diet, you can save yourself some money with the reassurance that all Nutribiotics rice products are tested to ensure they do not contain any herbicides, pesticides or PCBs.
Rice is not a ‘Complete Protein’
You will read quite a lot of articles online and elsewhere that states that rice IS a complete protein. This arises from a misunderstanding; Rice does contain all of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need and which go to make up a ‘complete protein’ plus many nonessential amino acids. However, it should be mentioned that Rice is not a ‘complete protein’ source as it does not contain the nine essential ones in the required proportions to be considered a complete protein. It has high levels of the essential amino acid Arginine and low levels of Lysine.
If you are currently using rice as your only protein supplement, you might like to consider adding a separate lysine supplement that you consume at the same time to achieve a better balance. A good way to do this is you are vegetarian would be to add a pea protein supplement as this is high in Lysine.
Is Rice Really A Source of Arsenic?
You may also have concerns about the possibility of rice products containing levels of Arsenic.
Be reassured! According to a research paper published on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website, the Arsenic in rice products (and in other products which you might not think contained rice), comes from Organic Brown Rice Syrup, added as a sweetener as an alternative to fructose.
In their consumer update, the FDA advice is not to stop eating rice! They say:
“Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains – not only for only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food.”
Is Rice Protein The Right Choice For You?
Rice protein is a hypoallergenic product and this makes is suitable for many people who cannot consume other protein sources. It can help you to:
- Stick to a low calorie diet because you will feel less hungry between meals supplemented with protein.
- Lose more fat, particularly belly fat whilst retaining more lean muscle.
- Avoid peaks and troughs in blood sugar and the resultant urge to ‘reach for the cookie jar’
It is a low calorie, low carbohydrate supplement that will help you to reach your weight loss goals without any of the potential allergies or intolerances that can be a problem with other protein sources.