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Does Rice Help You Build Muscle Mass?

Last updated April 29, 2016

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Rice-based protein products may be a good source of building exercise-induced muscle mass in vegetarians.

Americans have seemed to develop a liking to protein in association with exercise. They have added powder-rich powder to smoothies, sprinkled it on foods, and even added it as an ingredient in cereals to build muscle mass. Current protein products on the market, such as whey protein, may cause problems for those who refrain from using animal products. Soy proteins may not be tolerated by individuals as well. These realizations have led to a need for a plant-based protein, such as derived from rice.

You might think of rice as a food rich in carbohydrates. However, about 8% of each grain of rice is made of protein. Rice protein is made by extracting and concentrating the protein to be used in powder form. Rice is rich in the amino acid leucine, which has been used to build muscle.

A study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2013 examined the effect of whey protein versus plant-based protein, such as rice, on body composition and recovery when taken after exercise. The researchers found that subjects who exercised using rice protein and whey protein experienced the same performance, elicited improved indices of body composition, and recovery. This indicates that rice-based protein may have similar beneficial effects compared to whey protein, when it comes to building muscle mass.

The study, however, was only conducted on 24 college-aged males. This small group, although it showed significant results, indicates the need for much larger studies to verify this finding.

In summary, rice-based protein products may be a good source of building exercise-induced muscle mass in vegetarians.


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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: April 29, 2016
Last updated: April 29, 2016