What is Rice Protein Powder?


Protein is known as the nutritional building block for the development and maintenance of muscle in the body. Not only that but protein also helps in maintaining muscle mass during periods of body fat loss by increasing an individual’s protein intake slightly. Consuming protein can be easily done by introducing a protein powder into a person’s daily diet.

Most people think that protein powders are only consumed by athletes, bodybuilders, or hardcore gym-goers, but that’s not true at all. Protein powders can benefit anyone, especially those who need to up their protein intake. Whey protein powder is the most popular protein supplement but it is not the only one. 

These days, there are numerous plant-based food options on the market, including protein powders. It is now easier to ensure a healthy protein intake from vegan sources such as rice protein powder.

Rice Protein Powder: What Is It?

Rice is often thought of as a carb source but it also contains a fair amount of protein. White rice contains around four grams of protein per cup, while a cup of brown rice contains more than five grams. Due to that, most rice protein powders are sourced from brown rice. Additionally, brown rice also features unique peptides that aren’t found in white rice. There are white rice protein powders available in the market though.

Rice protein powder is made by grinding up rice grains and treating them with an enzyme that separates the starch (carbohydrate) from the protein. It is considered a medium-digesting protein. Compared to whey protein, rice protein absorbs more slowly but it’s faster than casein which is the slowest-digesting protein.

How Much Protein Does a Person Need?

The amount of protein a person needs comes into play when talking about rice protein. For most people, 20 to 40 grams of protein per day is a good amount. This is equivalent to 1 to 2 scoops of protein powder. The upper limit is about 3 to 4 scoops or around 80 grams. It should be noted that the amount still depends on the individual and their goals.

Is Rice Protein Powder the Same as Rice Flour?

One common misconception is that rice protein powder is the same as rice flour but in reality, they are not the same thing at all. Rice flour is ground-up rice grains while rice protein powder is a product derived from brown rice. With rice protein powder, the body gets protein, very small amounts of carbs, and zero fat. On the other hand, the body gets only a minimal amount of protein and fat, and a whole lot of carbs from rice flour.

What Is Rice Protein Powder Good For?

As rice protein powder is plant-based, it is a viable supplement option for vegetarians and vegans. Here are some of the benefits of rice protein powder:

Helps in Building Muscle Mass

It is a long-held urban myth that plant-based protein powders do not contain enough protein to stimulate muscle growth like dairy, egg, and meat sources; however, science suggests otherwise. A 2018 study had MMA fighters split into two groups and supplemented with either rice protein or whey protein to determine the effect. After six weeks, both groups had gained muscle and had lost fat. There was no discernible difference between them.

Helps with Weight Management

A lot of people drink protein powder as it helps in packing on mass and improving strength. Many individuals also consume protein powder as it acts as a meal replacement, helping with weight loss. 

Several studies have shown that brown rice protein powder is beneficial for individuals looking to lose weight, similar to animal-derived protein sources. This is because an increased protein intake can help improve body composition while also increasing lean mass and decreasing fat mass. 

Furthermore, regular consumption of protein above a “normal” dietary level (meaning as much as you’d consume through three meals a day) has been proven to boost metabolic rate and reduce appetite, enhancing the calories in and calories out balance and speeding up weight loss in the easiest possible way.

Does Not Contain Allergens or Gluten

Whey protein is the most popular protein powder but one major downside to it is that it contains dairy. Whey is the by-product of cheese production; a watery liquid that sits on top of cheese or yogurt as a result of natural separation. This is then processed into the protein powder readily found on the market.

Many protein powders in the market contain allergens or other ingredients that are unsuitable for those with specific dietary requirements. Like whey, casein protein contains milk too. Soy protein contains soybeans, and other plant proteins contain nuts or may have been cross-contaminated with nuts. 

On the other hand, brown rice protein powder and pea protein powder contain no allergens. Together, they make a fantastic protein blend for those who are unable to consume traditional protein powder.

Additionally, rice protein is also hypo-allergenic and gluten-free. If you take that into account, it trumps other plant protein supplements such as soy and hemp protein powder.

Highly Versatile

Brown rice protein is an extremely versatile protein powder. It can be enjoyed on its own, and it can also be mixed with pea protein powder. Rice protein powder can also be added to other foods and drinks for a healthy nutritional boost at any time of the day. If you want to stick to using brown rice protein powder as a dietary supplement to boost your exercise performance, you can make energy balls or bars with it.

Is Rice Protein Powder a Complete Protein?

A “complete protein” refers to a protein that contains all nine ‘essential’ amino acids (EAAs), namely histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine+cystine, phenylalanine and tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, which are the building blocks of proteins. Complete proteins offer those amino acids in adequate amounts. Whey, beef, and egg are all proteins derived from animal products; they contain all the essential amino acids in large quantities as well. 

In contrast, plant-based proteins such as pea protein, soy protein, and brown rice protein powder are technically not complete proteins. Although plant proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, they do not contain enough of each to qualify. The vegan diet is often considered inferior compared to the hefty quantities of all nine amino acids in meat, eggs, and dairy. 

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Brown rice protein powder is the closest that one can get to the adequate amino acid profile without artificially creating one. This is because it is only low on one amino acid: lysine. The adequate amount of lysine needed is 51 mg/g, and rice protein contains only 31 mg/g. 

Lysine is vital in supporting calcium production, aiding fatty acid metabolism, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and nurturing connective tissues like tendons in cartilage, making it a very important amino acid to consume. Lysine can be found in a number of other commonly-eaten foods including red meat, pork, poultry, cheese, eggs, soybean, tofu, and the like.
Lysine is also found in another popular plant-based protein: pea protein powder. It contains about 71 mg/g. Interestingly, pea protein misses the mark of being a complete protein as it is low in only one amino acid which is methionine+cystine. Therefore, rice protein powder is often mixed with pea protein powder to create a “super protein” and get all nine amino acids in adequate amounts.

Is Rice Protein High Quality?

Pea protein, hemp protein, and rice protein don’t contain the necessary amounts of all nine EAAs which are tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine + cysteine, phenylalanine + tyrosine, valine, and histidine. Despite not reaching an adequate amount of lysine, rice protein is still a high-quality source of protein. 

Lysine can be found in large quantities in other foods. Taking rice protein alongside healthy whole foods can help boost the amount of lysine you consume. With this, rice protein will be able to deliver the same gains as other protein powder supplements.

Can You Build Muscle With Rice Protein Powder?

Despite being a plant-based protein source, rice protein powder can help you build muscle! A medical study was conducted to directly compare the effect of rice protein powder and whey protein on body composition and workout performance. The study found that the vegan option delivered comparable results to whey even when it isn’t mixed with another protein powder such as pea protein to upgrade its amino acid profile.

Rice Protein vs Whey Protein Powder

When looking for a protein powder to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis and drive muscle growth, the particular amino acid that one needs, in particular, is leucine. It is one of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) but it is the only one that’s been found to stimulate muscle growth on its own. Compared to any other protein source, whey contains a lot of leucine, measuring at 104 mg/g of protein, which is why it is usually considered the best protein for building muscle. 

Rice protein powder contains plenty of leucine at 80 mg/g. While rice protein powders will never match the leucine content of whey, it doesn’t really matter especially if you consume a sufficient amount of protein in your diet overall.

This is because once you reach a certain amount of leucine, which can be achieved only with 1 to 2 scoops of virtually any protein powder, getting more of it has no additional benefit. Therefore, even if whey does the job more efficiently than rice protein, you can be confident that you’re giving your body enough leucine by taking two scoops of rice protein powder post-workout.

Many people also complain that whey makes them feel bloated and gassy. Unlike whey, brown rice protein powder doesn’t cause any bloating or other gastric discomforts. Furthermore, one of the best benefits of rice protein is that it is easier to digest than whey as it has a 90% digestibility rate. The bioavailability of rice protein may not be on the same level as whey but it is still comparable to pea protein powder.

Final Note

Protein helps in building muscle and improving strength. It can also help in weight loss and acts as a meal replacement for a lot of individuals. Going on a protein diet will allow the body to heal faster after workouts. 

Most people consume whey protein powder but there are also other kinds of protein powder supplements in the market. One that comes with a ton of nutritional benefits is rice protein powder. As implied in its name, rice protein is a protein isolate made from grinding up rice grains and treated to separate the starch from the protein.

Despite not being a complete protein, rice protein powder contains enough essential amino acids to make it a great muscle-builder for vegans, vegetarians, or those sensitivities to soy, lactose, eggs, and nuts. It’s easily digestible, it’s effective for weight loss, and it’s extremely versatile that you can add to a whole range of food, giving a boost to your overall health and well-being.