When it comes to potato chips, there are more than enough varieties to choose from. With entire aisles dedicated to chips at the grocery store, the choices can be overwhelming.
What is it about potato chips that makes them so addicting? They’re thin and crispy, have a touch of salt, and offer a satisfying crunch. Just as some individuals have a sweet tooth, some people just can’t bear the thought of giving up their crunchy, salty snacks.
If potato chips are one of your favorite foods, here’s a bit of unfortunate news: All forms of potatoes, including chips, are off-limits on keto.
Below, you’ll find out why they should be avoided, and a few low carb snack options you can enjoy instead.
Why Aren’t Potato Chips Keto-Friendly?
Before potato chips are sliced up and fried until crispy, they are naturally a root vegetable. Potato chips have been huge in Western countries for centuries, first appearing in an 1817 cookbook called “The Cook’s Oracle.”
In 1910 they came into mass production, with Mikesell’s Potato Chip Company in Dayton, Ohio formally recognized as the first company to serve the crispy treat.
There are two main reasons potato chips aren’t low carb friendly.
First, they are heavily processed and contain unhealthy ingredients that should be avoided by the general population (not just those on a low carb diet). Secondly, are simply too high in carbohydrates to fit within a keto diet, even homemade versions.
#1: Potato Chips Are Heavily Processed
Big-name commercial brands transformed potato chips into a heavily-processed food over the years. Once the potatoes are sliced, they typically go through a process of being chemically colored, then fried in hot oil for several minutes. Once this process is completed, they are laid out to cool and dry.
Unfortunately, the oils used to fry potato chips are not keto-friendly. Most brands use corn, soybean, or canola oil to fry their potato chips — none of which are permitted on keto.
#2: Potato Chips Are a High-Carb Snack Food
One bag of plain, Lay’s classic potato chips contains 160 calories. The same bag contains 10 grams of total fat, 2 grams of protein, and 15 grams of total carbohydrates[*]. Other popular potato chip flavors, like sour cream and onion potato chips and salt and vinegar, also contain 15 grams of carbs[*][*].
But what about other, healthier versions of potato chips? Unfortunately, they’re still too high in carbohydrates to be considered keto.
One serving size (a small bag) of oven baked Lay’s potato chips comes in at fewer calories than the traditional version (120 versus 160), but actually contains more carbohydrates — 23 grams, in fact[*].
Kettle cooked potato chips have 16 grams of carbohydrates, and the exact same amount of calories as the original[*].
And while you’re hopefully avoiding anything advertised as “low fat” on keto, it must be said that a bag of Lay’s Kettle Cooked 40% Less Fat potato chips have 20 grams of carbohydrates in a single bag[*].
Even if you make homemade potato chips in the comfort of your own kitchen, add a keto-friendly oil (like coconut or avocado), and stick to the three main ingredients (potatoes, oil, and sea salt) this snack still wouldn’t be low carb friendly.
Potatoes, like other root vegetables, are high in carbohydrates (usually 24 grams of net carbs per serving) and rank high on the glycemic index. In fact, potatoes have the capacity to spike your blood sugar more than a slice of white bread[*].
Crunchy Snacks to Consume Instead of Potatoes
As a general rule of thumb, most salty, crunchy snacks should be avoided on keto. These include healthy substitutes to potato chips, including corn chips, tortilla chips, plantain chips, sweet potato chips, and yes, those green bean “chips” you find in almost every grocery store nowadays.
If you’re really craving a crunchy snack, your best option is to consume raw vegetables with a side of hummus or guacamole. You can also try making these homemade keto kale chips.
Potato Chips Should Be Avoided on a Low Carb Diet
While chips may be delicious, they are far from being classified as low carb friendly. Along with having negative effects on your health, you can easily go over your carb intake with these crispy, salty treats.
Even homemade potato chips should be avoided on keto, as well as tortilla, corn, and plantain chips. Instead, consume raw vegetables or make your own kale chips. For other snack ideas to replace your favorite bag of chips, see these keto-friendly recipes.