Can you eat potatoes on a low carb diet?

In this article, I’ll answer the issue “Can you eat potatoes on a low-carb diet?” and provide recommendations on which foods to prioritize on a ketogenic diet.

Can you eat potatoes on a low carb diet?

Yes you can eat potatoes on a low carb diet but only in small amounts.

Potatoes are a starchy vegetable, a root vegetable growing below the ground, thereby containing more carbohydrates  than non-starchy vegetables. They are ideal for those with energetic lifestyles,  maintaining their weight or gaining weight. For those who want to lose weight or better manage blood sugars, potatoes need to be portion-controlled whereas low-starch vegetables can be eaten in abundance.

What is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb diet restricts carbs like those found in grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit, while emphasizing foods high in protein and fat. 

The body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis when carbs are reduced. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, the body begins to break down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies for energy. Most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy once the body reaches ketosis, which will last until you eat carbohydrates again.

Low-carb diets come in a variety of flavors. The types and amounts of carbs you can eat vary by diet.

A low-carb diet is commonly used to lose weight. On the other hand, they may provide health benefits other than weight loss, such as lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

However, it is important to consume the right types of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and include fibers, minerals and vitamins in the diet. Long-term effects of a low carbohydrate diet with typically low plant and increased animal protein and fat consumption have been hypothesized to stimulate inflammatory pathways, biological aging, and oxidative stress. On the other end of the spectrum, high carbohydrate diets, which are common in Asian and less economically advantaged nations, tend to be high in refined carbohydrates, such as white rice; these types of diets might reflect poor food quality and confer a chronically high glycaemic load that can lead to negative metabolic consequences (1).

Low carbohydrate diets are diets that exchange carbohydrates for a greater intake of protein or fat. They have gained substantial popularity because of their ability to induce short-term weight loss. Studies show that low carbohydrate dietary patterns that replaced carbohydrate with animal-derived protein or fat were associated with greater mortality risk, whereas this association was inverse when energy from carbohydrate was replaced with plant-derived protein or fat (1).

What can you eat on a low-carb diet?

The low carbohydrate diet allows an intake of up to 120 g of carbohydrates per day; it is balanced in protein (20% of energy/day) and rich in fat (remaining calories) (2). A low-carb diet often prioritizes proteins and vegetables that grow above ground, while restricting grains, nuts, and seeds. Some low-carb diet programs allow small amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, depending on the carbohydrate percentage. Some low-carb diets may allow you to eat fruits including avocados, berries, and peaches.

Here is a list of the food you can eat on a low-carb diet:

  • Meat, eggs, fish, and other types of seafood
  • Oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and rapeseed oil
  • Vegetables that aren’t starchy (vegetables that grow above the ground): Broccoli, Spinach, Lettuce, Asparagus, Zucchini, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Olives, Tomato, Eggplant, Kale, Cucumber, pepper, Brussels sprouts, Beans, etc.
  • Plant-derived protein and fat sources, such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads (1)
  • Less animal-derived protein and fat sources, such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken (1)

How to eat potatoes on a low carb diet?

For those following a low carb food plan, it is better to eat a small portion of potatoes once a week. But that depends on your definition of diet (2):

  • Very low-carbohydrate (less than 10% carbohydrates) or 20-50 gm/day
  • Low-carbohydrate (less than 26% carbohydrates) or less than 130 gm/day

Ketogenic diets involve eating less than 20g of carbohydrate  a day but a moderate low carb diet allows 50g to 70g a day. 3 baby potatoes weigh about 100g which is just 17g Carb and worth it. On the low carb food plan you can enjoy butter on the potatoes. Fat reduces and slows the rise in blood sugars from the potato.

Most of the nutrients in potatoes are found in the skin which yields good supplies of potassium, B6, Vitamin C, B3, B5 and dietary fiber. If you peel the skin, you are mainly eating water and sugars. I recommend buying organic and eating the skin.

The younger the potato the higher the nutritional content. Eat them young with the skin on, boiled or steamed, in small amounts. When you cook vegetables, the sugars become easier to absorb. I use raw carrot, another starchy vegetable on my low carb food plan because they are such a valuable source of carotenoids.

What kind of potato can be included in a keto-diet?

Sweet potato varieties can be included in a keto-diet. 

Starchy food increases the postprandial blood glucose and insulin responses. However, the response depends upon the rate of digestion of starch. The glycemic index (GI) is the ranking of carbohydrate food based on the glycemic response which is the indicator of the blood glucose-raising ability and it depends on factors such as its particle size, degree of processing, cooking method, starch structure and the number of food components (dietary fiber, protein, fat) present in it. Among starchy vegetables, sweet potato has a lower GI (44–78) compared to potato (55–111) (3). 

Although sweet potatoes include carbohydrates, you can still include them in your meal and enjoy the benefits of their nutrients. Sweet potatoes are often mistaken for normal white potatoes. They are more nutritious than white ones. Despite the fact that sweet potato fries are a popular dish, people are less likely to overeat it compared to white potatoes.

Carbohydrate content is high in sweet potatoes. About 26 grams of carbs are included in a 5-inch sweet potato. One sweet potato contains half of the carbohydrates you’re allowed on a low-carb diet.

However, this is still less than the 35 grams of carbs found in a white potato. That’s also less than the carbs amount of the sweet potato fries. They include roughly 34 grams of carbs.

Simple sweet potatoes can be included in low-carb diets that allow vegetables in moderation. Moreover, studies on sweet potato showed that the GI of baked sweet potato (94.80) was found to be significantly higher than that for the roasted (82.01), fries (76.01) and boiled (46) tubers of the same variety (3).

Potato substitutes for a low-carb diet:

Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to potatoes if you’re seeking something different. They’re nutrient-dense and provide a healthy carbohydrate option.

There are a variety of low-carb vegetables that are even better than sweet potatoes. These are some of them:

  1. Cauliflower: Mashed cauliflower is a fantastic alternative to mashed potatoes. Cauliflower is high in antioxidants, aids in inflammation reduction, and may even slow the formation of dangerous tumor cells.
  2. Celery root: Celery root is an excellent substitute for french fries. In addition, a 100-gram portion has only 7 grams of net carbohydrates.
  1. Daikon radish: Daikon radish is high in vitamins A, C, E, and B6. Potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron are all present. It’s a great substitute for scalloped potatoes if you slice it thinly.
  2. Turnips: They’re high in antioxidants and fiber, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and vitamin K. They’re a great alternative to mashed potatoes, just like cauliflowers.
  3. Kohlrabi: it is high in nutrients and minerals including copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins like vitamin C, B, A, and K. It’s delicious roasted, and is a good substitute for breakfast potatoes.

All of the above-mentioned options are excellent low-carb alternatives if you are on a low-carb diet or simply want to focus on healthy eating.

Other FAQs about Potatoes that you may be interested in.

how to cut potatoes into wedges

Can sweet potatoes be peeled ahead of time?

Can deer eat potatoes?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raw Potatoes?

Conclusion

In this article, I answered the question: “Can you eat potatoes on a low carb diet”. Potatoes can be eaten on a keto-diet if they’re well portioned. Furthermore, there are a lot of other alternatives to replace potatoes in a low-carb diet.

Feel free to contact me if you need additional information on this subject.

References

  1. Seidelmann, Sara B., et al. Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. Lancet Pub Health, 2018, 3, e419-e428.
  2. Oh, Robert, Brian Gilani, and Kalyan R. Uppaluri. Low Carbohydrate Diet. StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2020.
  3. Lal, Milan Kumar, et al. Glycemic index of starchy crops and factors affecting its digestibility: A review. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2021, 111, 741-755.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.