When it comes to nutrition, understanding complex and starchy carbohydrates becomes crucial; read for a comparison of the nutritional profiles and weight loss implications of three staples: rice, pasta, and potatoes.

Last week we covered simple sugars in and hopefully removed some confusion around the complexity around the simplest form of carbohydrates – simple sugars. Moving on from that, we are now going to turn our focus on ‘Complex Carbohydrates’. These are starches which are composed of multiple amounts of these sugar units bounded together.

This makes them longer to digest and provide a more sustained release of energy.

Commonly, they are found in:

  • whole grains
  • vegetable
  • legumes.


Starches are broken into glucose during digestion. The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body’s cells as an energy source.

As the starches are digested more slowly than simple sugars, they provide a steady supply of energy which will help to regulate blood sugar levels over time.

Read on for a detailed starchy carbohydrates comparison!





Rice comes in many varieties- including white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice and basmati rice. Brown rice is a whole grain and is higher in fibre, vitamins, and minerals compared to white rice.

White rice has had the bran and germ removed, which reduces its fibre and nutrient content. Brown rice, due to its higher fibre content, is digested more slowly than white rice, leading to a steadier release of energy.

As you can see however, they are both almost identical in calories meaning brown is no better for weight loss.


Long grain white rice


starchy carbs white rice

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 339
  • Protein = 7.3g
  • Fat = 0.90g
  • Saturated = 0.20g
  • Carbohydrates = 74g
  • Sugar = 0.10g
  • Fibre = 0.80g


Medium Grain Brown Rice


starchy carbs brown rice

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 346
  • Protein = 7.9g
  • Fat = 3.1g
  • Saturated = 0g
  • Carbohydrates = 69.1g
  • Sugar = 1.1g
  • Fibre = 3.5g






Pasta comes in various shapes and sizes. This includes spaghetti, penne & fusilli. Generally speaking, the shape will make little difference to the nutritional content. It can be made from different types of flour, such as wheat, whole wheat, and even gluten-free alternatives. The same as rice, whole wheat pasta contains more fibre, vitamins, and minerals compared to traditional refined pasta. It also provides a slower release of energy due to its fibre content.

Whole wheat pasta is digested more slowly than refined pasta, leading to better blood sugar control and sustained energy. Pasta is a great source of carbs that can easily be paired with various sauces vegetables and proteins. The content of fat in these sauces however may make pasta and unhealthy choice.

As pasta is also more calorie dense than potatoes which we will see soon- portion control will be important in weight loss is your goal! The Vetta protein pasta is an excellent choice if you are somebody struggling to get your protein in and also contains 10g of fibre per 100g!!

Spiral pasta


starchy carbs spiral pasta

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 365
  • Protein = 12g
  • Fat = 2g
  • Saturated = 0.5g
  • Carbohydrates = 72g
  • Sugar = 2.5g
  • Fibre = 3g



Wholemeal pasta


starchy carbs wholemeal pasta

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 348kcal
  • Protein = 12.6g
  • Fat = 2.3g
  • Saturated = 0g
  • Carbohydrates = 64g
  • Sugar = 2.5g
  • Fibre = 8.9g


Protein pasta


starchy carbs protein pasta

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 343kcal
  • Protein = 24.9g
  • Fat = 2.20g
  • Saturated = 0.30g
  • Carbohydrates = 50.50g
  • Sugar = 2.4g
  • Fibre = 10g






Potatoes have also sparked debate in the past with many people believing that sweet potatoes were better for weight loss. Sweet potatoes are particularly rich in vitamins A and C. Regular potatoes provide carbohydrates and potassium. The nutrient content varies depending on the type and preparation.

As you will see below, per 100g of potatoes you will get much more bang for your buck in comparison to the pasta and rice – making it an excellent choice for those on a fat loss journey. Potatoes can be boiled, baked, mashed, or fried – this may be negatively influenced if prepared in large volumes of milk, creams or butter. Known as one of the major starchy carbohydrates, we hope the below comparison helps to shed some light on the treasured potato.

Spud light


A personal favourite for weight loss!! 5 times this amount would equal the same number of calories as pasta – that is what you call bang for your buck especially if you are somebody who likes to go back for seconds..

starchy carbs spud lite

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 49kcal
  • Protein = 1.4g
  • Fat = <0.1g
  • Saturated = <0.1gg
  • Carbohydrates = 8.9g
  • Sugar = 1.1g
  • Fibre = 1.4g


White Potato


To be fair – normal potatoes are not much more calories per 100g and the majority of white potatoes should be similar!


starchy carbs white potato

Per 100g

  • KCAL = 66kcal
  • Protein = 2.3g
  • Fat = 0.1g
  • Saturated = <0.1g
  • Carbohydrates = 12.6g
  • Sugar = 0.7g
  • Fibre = 1.8g


Sweet Potatoes



Sweet potatoes as you can see are generally on par or slightly more in calorie content than white potatoes busting every myth about ‘sweet potatoes being great for weight loss. However as mentioned, they are a great extra source of vitamins A and C.


starchy carbs sweet potatoPer 100g

  • KCAL = 71kcal
  • Protein = 1.9g
  • Fat = 0.1g
  • Saturated = <0.1g
  • Carbohydrates = 14.1g
  • Sugar = 5.6g
  • Fibre = 3g


In summary


All of these starches offer different types with slight variation in nutrient profiles. Brown rice and brown pasta are whole grain options with more fibre and nutrients. Potatoes are also available in different types and can be a good source of nutrients depending on the type. Despite popular belief, the caloric content of white potato is less than sweet potatoes however both contain useful vitamins and minerals.

When incorporating these foods into your diet, consider choosing whole grain options and preparing them in ways that retain their nutritional value. As always, moderation and variety are key to a balanced diet. We hope this starchy carbohydrates comparison has helped.


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