Protein powder is just for getting fit, right? Not anymore. Did you know that that there’s a type of protein dietary supplement that can improve liver and heart function and regulate your cholesterol, in addition to supporting your weight loss and muscle-building efforts?
It’s time to introduce brown rice protein powder. From hardcore athletes to the casual gym-goer, many people looking to enhance their fitness results now have more than benefit-rich whey protein to choose from.
If you seek to avoid dairy or are a vegan, there’s another reason to use brown rice protein. Recent research indicates that brown rice protein includes unique peptides that reduce weight gain more than those in white rice protein or soy protein.
What Is Brown Rice Protein Powder?
While brown rice protein powder has long been surpassed by whey protein as the most popular form of protein powder, it has recently gained more popularity as a top vegan protein powder, especially since the benefits of a plant-rich or completely plant-based diet have been made known.
With science backing the claim — a 2013 Nutrition Journal study — that brown rice protein is just as effective as whey protein in supplementing body composition and exercise performance, it’s not a shock that more health-conscious people are turning to it as a staple of a high-protein, plant-rich diet. (10)
Brown rice protein is packed with incredible antioxidants and nutrients to support weight loss. It’s the perfect protein supplement for the vegan diet as well. Depending on which brand of powder you choose, the nutritional value changes slightly.
Whether you are vegetarian/vegan or just cutting animal products out of your diet for a day, it is still important that the body receives the same protein and amino acids that animal proteins provide. Luckily, plant-based proteins can still do just that.
Alone, brown rice does not provide all of the nine essential amino acids that the body needs. That’s why brown rice protein powders often also contain quinoa or chia proteins to compensate for what the brown rice lacks. When you are buying a brown rice protein powder, check the label for these proteins as both quinoa and chia proteins are complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids.
Hypoallergenic brown rice protein, packed with plant-based nutrients, will aid in muscle recovery, fat burning, stabilizing blood sugar and more. (2)
One scoop (about 25 grams) of Sunwarrior’s brown rice protein powder contains: (3)
- 100 calories
- 2 grams carbohydrates
- 20 grams protein
- 2 gram fat
- 2 grams fiber
- 5 milligrams iron (30 percent DV)
- 39 milligrams calcium (4 percent DV)
- 44 milligrams vitamin C (70 percent DV)
1. Increases Weight Loss
Protein supplements, in general, support weight loss by speeding metabolism and decreasing food intake. But even more importantly, recent research suggests that brown rice protein in particular includes unique peptides that reduce weight gain more than those in white rice protein or soy protein. (4)
Most people trying to lose weight fast fail to do so because of a lack of protein. Don’t forget, the protein in brown rice protein powder should supplement a diet already high in protein. However, because of its unique properties, brown rice protein may do double duty in helping you reach your weight loss goals!
2. Reduces Glycemic Response
Every time you consume any type of nutrient, whether high or low on the glycemic index, your body elicits a glycemic response. Simply stated, nutrition affects your blood sugar levels, meaning your blood glucose and insulin levels rise after eating and then return to “fasting” levels after a couple of hours.
It’s important to maintain a healthy A1C blood glucose level (average blood glucose over a period of two or three months), especially for individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions, and women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. That’s why you want to be aware of blood sugar spikes, which can cause you to feel fatigued after eating, blur your vision and give you a general ill feeling all over. Long term, these spikes can lead to an elevated A1C level, which can contribute to heart disease, as well as other serious health complications.
Sprouted grains, and brown rice protein in particular, have been shown in multiple studies to reduce glycemic response across the board. (5a)(5b) That means this supplement may significantly impact the severity of blood sugar spikes and help you regulate glucose levels.
3. Improves Liver Function
Brown rice protein is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help prevent specific types of cell damage, especially damage caused by oxidation (free radical formation caused by oxygen molecules traveling freely in the body), which can cause liver disease.
One 2015 study found brown rice to prevent some oxidative stress on the liver and protect against injury from further oxidation. (6) Another study tested rice protein in particular and found the same antioxidant qualities in the protein as it exhibited “hepatoprotective” effects — put simply, that it protects your liver against oxidative damage. (7)
4. Regulates Cholesterol
While there are many conflicting ideas regarding cholesterol levels, it is important to note that healthy cholesterol levels can be reached by eating diets high in healthy fats and cholesterol. Yes, you read that right! (Low cholesterol levels are actually more dangerous than high levels.)
Brown rice protein is a great step in achieving your goal of cholesterol regulation. Studies show that the peptides in brown rice protein, in addition to increasing weight loss, help your liver to synthesize the cholesterol created by the liver itself and by other cells in the body. (8)
5. Great for Heart and Kidney Health
It’s no surprise, then, that this protein is also associated with heart health! Over the last couple of decades in the 20th century, a study was conducted with over 29,000 postmenopausal women, following them to discover incidences of cancer, coronary heart disease and death.
Participants who developed coronary heart disease (CHD) over the course of the study had a 30 percent lower mortality rate when they consumed vegetable proteins over animal proteins! A higher mortality rate of CHD patients was associated with high consumption rates of dairy products. (9)
6. Hypoallergenic and Easy to Digest
I mentioned above that sprouted brown rice protein powder is both gluten- and dairy-free. Very few people are allergic to brown rice protein, unlike whey, which is not generally recommended for people with lactose or gluten intolerance.
In addition to its hypoallergenic qualities, sprouted brown rice protein is extremely easy to digest and is unlikely to bother your stomach.
How to Use
Protein powder is generally consumed in shakes and smoothies. Brown rice protein has a very mild, sweet flavor and mixes well into smoothies.
One interesting thing to note about brown rice protein is that, while it is technically a complete protein source (meaning it contains all essential amino acids your body needs), it’s lower in the amino acid lysine than whey protein. Therefore, it’s common to combine brown rice protein with pea protein for a superior amino acid profile. I like to rotate brown rice protein with a whey protein supplement to ensure maximum benefits.
Here are some recipes to try:
For a chocolate and mint flavor, try my recipe for a Thin Mint Protein Smoothie, substituting a scoop of brown rice protein for the whey protein mentioned in the recipe.
If you’re looking for something with more of a fruity taste, you can also try my Berry Smoothie, again substituting sprouted brown rice protein powder for whey.
Smoothies aren’t your only option — you can mix protein powder into some guiltless desserts to curb cravings for sweets! Some of my favorites are Dark Chocolate Protein Truffles and Lemon Protein Bars. No one at the gym will complain if you pull a box of either of those treats out of your bag, I can assure you.
Risks and Side Effects
While sprouted brown rice protein has no proven side effects, excess protein (more than one gram per pound you weigh) has been suspected to cause diarrhea when consumed over long periods of time. There are also some unfounded claims of liver damage, although no scientific evidence has backed these claims.
However, it is important to follow serving directions for all supplements and to consult your physician if you experience any adverse physical effects after starting a new fitness or dietary regimen.