Do potato skins have less carbs?

Quick Answer

Yes, potato skins do have slightly fewer carbs than the potato flesh. However, the difference is quite small. An average medium potato with the skin on contains about 21 grams of carbs, while an average potato skin contains about 15-20 grams of carbs. So removing the potato flesh decreases the carb content by about 5-6 grams.

What Are Potato Skins?

Potato skins are the outermost layer of a potato. They are the thin, brown peel that surrounds the white potato flesh.

Potato skins are often removed before cooking and eating. However, some people enjoy eating baked or fried potato skins as a snack or appetizer.

When preparing potato skins to eat, the potato is baked or boiled whole. Then, the flesh of the potato is scooped out, leaving just the intact skin behind. The skins are then brushed with oil, salted, and baked or fried until crispy. They make a tasty, crunchy snack or accompaniment to meals.

Nutritional Profile of Potato Skins

Here is the basic nutritional profile of potato skins (for 100 grams or about 28g of skins):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 93
Carbohydrates 18 g
Fiber 2 g
Fat 0.1 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin C 16% DV
Iron 3% DV
Potassium 12% DV

As you can see, the majority of calories in potato skins comes from carbohydrates. Potato skins also provide small amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Carb Content of Potato Skins vs. Potato Flesh

So how does the carb content of potato skins compare to the carb content of the potato flesh?

On average, here is the carb breakdown for different parts of a medium potato:

– Whole medium potato with skin: 21 grams carbs
– Potato flesh only: 15-17 grams carbs
– Potato skin only: 3-5 grams carbs

So as you can see, there is a difference in carb content between the skin and flesh, but it is fairly small.

The potato flesh contains the majority of the carbohydrates. This makes sense when you consider that the flesh is the starchy, energy storage portion of the vegetable. The skins are a protective barrier and contain more fiber.

However, keep in mind that these numbers can vary depending on the specific potato. Factors like the potato variety, whether it is a Russet vs. red or yellow potato, and how it was cultivated can affect the carb content. Larger potatoes also tend to have more carbs than smaller potatoes.

Why Do Potato Skins Have Slightly Fewer Carbs?

Here are some of the reasons why potato skins contain slightly fewer carbs than the flesh:

Fiber content: Potato skins are higher in fiber than the flesh, which displaces some of the starchy carbs. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate but does not count toward net carbs because it is indigestible.

Density: The skins have a looser structure with more air pockets compared to the dense, starchy interior of the potato. This lower density equals fewer carbs per gram.

Moisture: Potato flesh is made up of about 80% water, while the drier skins contain less water weight and more potato solids by weight.

Processing method: Some potato products like potato chips contain skins that have been processed and ground up more finely, releasing more starch and increasing the carb content.

So while potato skins only contain slightly fewer carbs than potato flesh, they do provide more fiber, vitamins, and texture from their plentiful skins.

Do Potato Skins Have a Lower Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels.

Low GI foods (GI less than 55) are digested more slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. High GI foods (GI 70 or greater) are digested quickly and cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.

Most potatoes have a high GI between 70-90. So do potato skins have a lower GI than potato flesh?

Unfortunately, no. Potato skins do not appear to have a significantly lower GI than the flesh. They still contain starch and carbohydrates that are fairly quickly broken down into glucose during digestion.

However, eating potato skins with the filling fiber-rich flesh would result in slower digestion and absorption overall. This means leaving the skins on potatoes results in a slightly lower glycemic response compared to peeling.

Health Benefits of Potato Skins

While potato skins don’t offer a huge carb or calorie reduction, they do provide some additional health benefits:

Fiber: Potato skins contain 2-3 times more fiber than the flesh. Fiber supports digestive and heart health.

Vitamins: Potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 are concentrated more heavily in the outer peel. These support immune function and energy levels.

Antioxidants: Potato skins contain antioxidant compounds like polyphenols, katacine, and chlorogenic acid. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals.

Probiotics: Some of the fiber and resistant starch in potato skins functions as prebiotic to feed the good bacteria in your digestive system.

Texture: The skins add more variety to the potato’s texture and give dishes more visual appeal.

So while the carb content may be similar, potato skins provide nutritional benefits you miss out on if you peel your potatoes. Leaving the skins on when preparing potatoes is an easy way to add nutrition and fiber.

Ways to Include More Potato Skins

Here are some ways to add more potato skins to your diet:

– Leave the skins on when cooking whole baked, boiled, roasted, or mashed potatoes. Just give them a good scrub beforehand.

– Add sliced potatoes with skins to omelets, frittatas, and stir-fries. The skins add fiber and texture.

– Make baked potato skins as an appetizer. Top with cheese, bacon, broccoli, or whatever you like.

– Make homemade potato chips or fries. Slice with the skins on, toss in oil, and bake until crispy.

– When making potato salad or home fries, leave some of the peel on for visual appeal and fiber.

– Add unpeeled diced potatoes to soups, stews, and boiled dishes like corned beef and cabbage.

So don’t feel like you always have to peel away those nutritious skins. Keep them on your spuds whenever you can.

Should You Avoid Any Potato Skins?

Potato skins are edible and healthy in most cases. However, there are a few situations where you may want to remove the skins:

– If a potato is sprouting, remove any sprouts and green skin which can be toxic.

– Peel potatoes if the skin looks damaged, bruised, or rotten.

– For mashed potatoes with a silky texture, peel the skins first.

– If a recipe specifically calls for peeled potatoes, follow the instructions.

– People with digestive issues like IBS may tolerate peeled potatoes better since the skins are high in insoluble fiber.

Aside from these cases, most people can tolerate and benefit from eating the skins. Just take care to wash potatoes well before cooking with the skins on.


While potato skins contain slightly fewer carbs and calories than the flesh, the difference is minimal. On average, potato skin has 3-5 grams less carbs than the same weight of potato flesh.

However, potato skins provide important fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, texture, and visual appeal. Leaving the skins on potatoes when cooking boosts their nutritional value significantly.

Aim to include unpeeled potatoes in recipes like baked potatoes, home fries, soups, casseroles, roasted potatoes, and more. Potato skins add valuable nutrition and texture that you don’t want to miss out on.

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