Does Brown Rice Have Enough Protein?

Many vegan-friendly protein powders list brown rice as their main ingredient. However, rice isn't really one of those foods that we naturally associate with protein. 


If you’re browsing vegan protein powders and wondering if brown rice really has enough protein, keep reading. In this article, we’ll discuss why and how rice is used as a plant-based source of protein. We’ll also go over how protein content varies with different types of rice. 


If you assumed rice protein was an inferior choice before, you might change your mind after reading.

Does Rice Have Protein?

To put it simply, yes. You will find protein in rice. In fact, all grains and most plant-based foods contain at least a small amount of protein. 


We don’t usually think of rice as a protein food because it would take quite a bit to meet your protein goals if you were just eating it in its whole form. However, consuming brown rice as a concentrated protein is a different story.


To make brown rice protein, manufacturers isolate the protein in rice using either enzymes or a mechanical process. 


The result is a powder that provides just as much protein as whey or other more common protein powders. 


For example, each two-scoop serving of our organic brown rice protein powder provides 25 grams of protein.

Isn't Rice a Carbohydrate?


It’s true that rice is usually known as a carbohydrate. 


However, most foods actually contain some amount of all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. 


Rice has protein, carbohydrates, and technically fat, although the amount of fat is so minimal it’s often considered a fat-free food. 


We categorize rice as a carbohydrate simply because that is the primary macronutrient that it provides. 


One cup of cooked, white rice is made up of about 87 percent carbohydrate. There is some protein and a little fat too, but it’s clear that when you eat rice, you’re getting mostly carbohydrates.


This doesn’t mean that brown rice protein is high in carbs. Remember, the protein in rice is extracted during manufacturing, meaning it’s separated from carbohydrates. 


Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Which One Has More Protein?

So all rice has some protein, but the exact amount differs depending on the type of rice you’re consuming. There are actually thousands of varieties of rice, but the most common types here in the US are white and brown. 


First, let’s discuss the difference between brown and white rice. Brown rice is essentially a whole grain, meaning the hull, bran, and germ are intact. White rice is stripped of the bran and the germ, which are the most nutritious parts of the grain.


Brown rice is, therefore, a better source of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients like B vitamins, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and manganese.


Brown rice retains slightly more protein as well. 


One serving of brown rice is about 1 gram higher in protein than a serving of white rice. The difference seems minimal on this scale but has a much larger impact as a concentrated protein powder. 

Does Brown Rice Have Enough Protein?


So we know now that brown rice has some protein, but does it provide enough to compare to animal-sourced protein powders? 


In short, yes. The average healthy person needs about 0.8 to 1 gram protein per kilogram body weight per day – equivalent to 1.76 to 2.2 grams per pound. This means that a 150-pound person needs about 55 to 68 grams per day.


Like we mentioned before, one serving of our rice protein powder, Naked Rice, provides 25 grams of protein, which is the same amount as Naked Whey. 


In order to consume the recommended daily amount of protein strictly via brown rice protein, you’d need to take a little over 2 servings each day. Therefore, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan and enjoy protein shakes, it is indeed possible to get enough protein from brown rice protein for your daily needs.


It’s also important to note that it’s not quite as simple as asking “does rice have protein” or even comparing the gram-to-gram protein content to other sources. 


Protein quality is important too. Although animal protein is usually considered more optimal for absorption, brown rice protein is an excellent alternative.

What is a Complete Protein?


Let’s start by talking about amino acids. When you eat protein, it’s broken down during digestion into amino acids that are absorbed and used in the body. 


There are nine “essential” amino acids that the body can’t make on its own. 


A food is considered a “complete” protein if it contains all nine of these amino acids. A complete protein is the highest quality protein that comes from food.


Animal-based foods like chicken, eggs, beef, pork, and fish are always complete proteins. 


Plant-based foods are typically incomplete, but their amino acid profile varies. Therefore, it’s easy to get all of the essential amino acids even on a plant-based diet with a little variety.

Brown Rice: A Superior Amino Acid Profile


Although most plant-based foods, including brown rice, aren’t considered to be complete proteins, some foods have better amino acid profiles than others. In other words, some foods are only short one or two of the essential amino acids needed to be complete. 


Brown rice is only lacking the essential amino acid threonine, making it one of the highest quality sources of plant-based protein. The concentration of some amino acids (such as arginine and valine) is higher in brown rice protein than even in whey.


Brown rice protein is also rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), a unique group of amino acids that have been shown to exhibit special benefits when it comes to building and repairing muscle fibers. 


It should also be noted that the essential amino acids do not have to be consumed all at once to be beneficial.

How to Complete Brown Rice Protein?

It’s easy to complete brown rice protein with a varied diet. Simply include foods that provide the missing essential amino acid: threonine. Some plant-based sources of threonine include: 

  • Soybeans
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin seeds

If you’re making a shake with brown rice protein, you can complete the amino acid profile by combining it with pea protein powder, like Naked Pea.

What are the Benefits of Brown Rice Protein?


The benefits of brown rice protein aren’t necessarily all about its actual protein content. 


What sells people on this type of protein comes down to making it easier to achieve a high protein diet and reaching your fitness goals faster. 


If you’re still not sold on brown rice protein, here are some of its other benefits. 

Easy to Digest


The most common struggle for people taking protein powders or eating a high protein diet is digestive issues. However, rice protein powder tends to be much easier to digest, making it an ideal choice for people who want relief from these problems without sacrificing their protein goals.  


One reason rice protein is easier on the stomach is how quickly it is digested and metabolized. Rice powder gets to work quickly, which is a huge plus for post-workout recovery.

Hypo-Allergenic


If you have an allergy to dairy, soy, wheat, or egg, your selection of protein powders becomes fairly limited. However, there are no concerns with allergies when it comes to rice protein powders. 

Subtle Taste


The most common turn-off for some plant-based protein powders is taste. Some vegan proteins like pea protein have a distinct flavor that people just can’t tolerate. This isn’t the case for brown rice protein, which is basically tasteless. 


The subtle taste makes it easier to not only tolerate on its own but also use many different recipes. It’s easy to add a scoop to basically anything from smoothies to baked goods. You’ll amp up the nutrition profile of your food without affecting taste or texture.


Brown rice protein is also resilient to heat. If you cook or bake with it, you don’t need to worry about destroying the protein. This isn’t always the case with other protein powders.

Improves Body Composition


One of the biggest reasons someone decides to include a protein powder in their routine is to improve body composition. High protein diets combined with appropriate amounts of exercise help reduce body fat and increase muscle mass. 


Protein keeps you satiated between meals and is a necessity for building and repairing muscle after a workout. Without enough protein, you can’t support all of the hard work you’re putting in in the gym. Protein is the fuel your muscles need to grow strength and bulk.


Brown rice protein is one of the highest quality plant-based proteins because it provides a high amount of protein per serving, and nearly all of the amino acids you need to support muscle growth and other protein functions in the body.

Normalizes Blood Sugar 

Protein also helps to reduce the severity of insulin spikes and the resultant blood sugar crash that sometimes comes along with high-carb meals. When eaten with carbohydrates, protein slows down the absorption of these foods and can prevent feelings of exhaustion or mental fog that sometimes results.

Brown Rice Protein for Vegan Athletes

Vegan athletes typically go through a lot of trial and error to find the perfect protein powder. Obstacles with taste, texture, and quality can make this difficult.


Brown rice powder is completely vegan, meaning it is totally free of animal products and by-products. As we discussed earlier, it has a very subtle flavor and works well in almost any recipe without changing the texture or taste. 

What's the Best Way to Include Brown Rice Protein in My Diet?

Brown rice protein can be taken like any other protein powder. It digests and absorbs quickly, making it perfect for post-workout recovery.


It’s mild taste also makes it great for cooking or adding to a quick smoothie for a high-protein snack throughout the day. 


To make a shake or smoothie, just add brown rice protein to any type of milk or your beverage of choice. You can also blend it with fresh fruit, greens, or other smoothie ingredients. 


Brown rice protein mixes well into oatmeal and virtually any baked good. A two-scoop serving of Naked Rice provides 25 grams of protein, making it very easy to boost your favorite muffin, waffle, pancake, or bar recipe. 

Final Thoughts

There are a number of reasons why someone may need an alternative protein to meet their protein goals. Finding a high-quality protein that meets a specific dietary preference and/or allergy requirement may result in a lot of frustrating trial and error. 


Not only does brown rice have enough protein to make a great supplement, but it is also one of the highest quality sources of plant-based protein. It’s also hypoallergenic, easy to digest, and mild in flavor.


Brown rice protein may not strike you as the obvious first choice for a plant-based protein powder, but perhaps it should.