Potatoes are one of the most highly-consumed side dishes in North America. From french fries to baked, scalloped to potato salad, and tater tots to mashed potatoes, every variation is American family favorite comfort food. Given its versatility, it’s almost impossible to get bored of this delicious starch.
If you’re starting the keto diet (or any other low carb diet), you’re probably wondering, “How many carbs are in potatoes?” Below, you’ll learn how many carbs are in potatoes, and whether they hold a place on the keto diet.
Are Potatoes Low Carb?
Not one bit.
White potatoes are an extremely high-carb food. They are one of the few foods that rank higher than white bread on the glycemic index — a tool that measures a food’s impact on blood sugar. On a scale of 0–100, a boiled potato has a glycemic index of 78 while a slice of bread comes in at 75[*]. It has a glycemic load of 28 while white bread has a glycemic load of 10, and white rice, 33[*]. When you eat a potato you spike your blood sugar more than when you eat bread.
One medium potato contains 36.6 grams of total carbohydrates and just 3.8 grams of dietary fiber, giving you a net carb intake of 32.8 grams[*]. It contains a little more than 4 grams of protein and less than a gram of fat. Most individuals consume roughly 20 grams of carbs per day to stay in ketosis — so a single potato would take up your entire carb allotment for the day.
But What About Sweet Potatoes? Are They High-Carb as Well?
Potatoes are a starchy vegetable known as a “tuber.” They grow below ground and are known for being a high-carb food. Different kinds of potatoes (red, sweet and russet potatoes) all have different micro- and-macronutrients.
Both regular and sweet potatoes originated from central and South America. There are about 4,000 known varieties of potatoes and about 3,000 varieties of sweet potatoes.
Both white and sweet potato varieties can vary in size, texture, carb count, micronutrients and taste. Here are a few ways they differ.
Sweet Potatoes Contain Fewer Carbs Than White Potatoes
One medium sweet potato contains roughly 23 grams of total carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber, giving you 20 grams of net carbs[*]. While this is significantly less than a white potato, sweet potatoes still rank high on the glycemic index, with a score of 63[*].
Sweet Potatoes Contain More Vitamins Than White Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain over 400% of your daily values for vitamin A, 37% for vitamin C and 16% for vitamin B6[*]. By comparison, white potatoes contain 0% of vitamin A, 28% for vitamin C and 27% for vitamin B6[*].
White Potatoes Contain More Resistant Starch Than Sweet Potatoes
Compared to sweet potatoes, regular potatoes have more resistant starch, which means the starch isn’t able to be completely digested. Most starches, like bread, cakes and cereal, are rapidly digested by your body. Resistant starch, on the other hand, “rejects” digestion — it goes straight to the colon rather than being digested by the small or large intestine[*].
While research is still being gathered on resistant starch, white potatoes have more resistant starch than sweet potatoes. This means it might impact your blood glucose less than originally believed[*].
The Benefits of Potatoes
Contrary to what you may have heard in the past, potatoes do have some benefits. They:
- Improve bone health
- Improve blood pressure
- Fight inflammation
Improve Bone Health
Improves Blood Pressure
The potassium in potatoes can help improve an individual’s blood pressure due to potassium’s ability to widen blood vessels[*].
Potatoes are strong source of choline. In fact, potatoes contain about 57 milligrams of choline. Choline helps fight off inflammation as well as maintaining the structure of cell membranes, absorbing fats and helping early brain development[*].
What Can You Substitute for Potatoes on a Low Carb Diet?
There are other low carb vegetables that offer an even better alternative than sweet potatoes. These include:
- Cauliflower: Mashed cauliflower makes an excellent substitute for mashed potatoes. Cauliflower is filled with antioxidants, helps fight inflammation and could even prevent the growth of cancerous tumor cells[*].
- Celery root: Celery root makes a great alternative to french fries. Plus, a 100-gram serving contains just 7 grams of net carbs.
- Daikon radish: Daikon is also a good source of vitamins A, C, E and B6. It contains potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron[*]. If you slice it thin with a mandolin, it makes a great alternative to scalloped potatoes.
- Rutabaga: Rutabaga is perfect for individuals on a low carb or ketogenic diet, containing only 5 grams of net carbs and 35 calories per 100 grams[*]. Shred with a cheese grater then fry in a skillet with a little olive oil for a great hash browns substitute.
- Turnips: Turnips are a great source of antioxidants and fiber, but those aren’t the only benefits they provide. Turnips are loaded with vitamin C, iron, calcium and vitamin K[*]. Like cauliflower, they make a great alternative to mashed potatoes.
- Kohlrabi: Kohlrabi is full of nutrients and minerals such as copper, potassium, manganese, iron and calcium along with being rich in vitamins including vitamins C, B, A and K[*]. It tastes great roasted, similar to breakfast potatoes.
If you are on low carb diet, or simply want to make healthy eating a priority, all of the above options make excellent low carb alternatives.
Potatoes Are Not Low Carb — Luckily, You Have Plenty of Alternatives
White potatoes are an extremely high-carb food, and should be avoided on a ketogenic diet. While they do contain several health benefits, the carb count is simply too high.
To maintain a healthy diet, choose a low carb alternative to white potatoes, such as cauliflower, rutabaga or turnips. While sweet potatoes are known as a good carb option, even they are too high in carbs for keto. The alternatives mentioned will not spike your blood sugar, and can be used in several keto recipes. And the best part — they taste just like regular potatoes.