How many calories are in a 1 lb russet potato?

A 1 lb (450g) russet potato contains around 278 calories. This is the typical size of a single russet potato you would buy at the grocery store. The exact calorie count can vary slightly depending on factors like the potato’s size and where it was grown. But in general, a medium 1 lb russet potato contains approximately:

  • 278 calories
  • 63g carbohydrates
  • 4g protein
  • 0g fat

What accounts for the calories in a potato?

The majority of calories in a potato come from carbohydrates. A 1 lb potato contains around 63g of total carbohydrates. Starch makes up the greatest portion of the carbohydrates in a potato, accounting for over half of the total carbohydrate content. The starch molecules consist of long chains of glucose units. When we digest potatoes, the starch gets broken down into individual glucose molecules that our bodies can absorb.

Potatoes also contain small amounts of other nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals. But the calorie contribution from these is minimal. Protein accounts for around 4g per potato, supplying 16 calories. Potatoes contain almost no fat (0g per potato). So fat does not contribute any meaningful calories.

Does the type of potato impact the calorie count?

Different types of potatoes can vary slightly in their calorie and nutrient composition. For example:

Potato Type Calories (1 lb/450g)
Russet 278
Red 237
Yukon Gold 257
Sweet Potato 180

As you can see, russet potatoes tend to be slightly higher in calories than other common types. But in general, the differences are not huge. On average, most medium-sized potatoes of any type fall within the 200-300 calorie range.

Does cooking impact the calories?

Cooking does not significantly alter the calorie content of a potato. Whether you bake, boil, fry, or roast a potato, the calories will remain roughly the same. However, what you add to the potato during cooking can dramatically increase the calories:

  • Baked potato: A plain baked potato maintains the original calorie count. But loading it up with butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream can add 200 calories or more.
  • Boiled/mashed potatoes: Plain boiled or mashed potatoes keep the same calories. But mashed potatoes made with milk, butter, and cheese can add 150+ calories.
  • French fries: French fries contain about the same calories as a plain potato, but the oil used for deep frying can add over 500 calories per serving.

The bottom line is potatoes themselves are relatively low in calories for the serving size. But what we add to them during preparation or at the table determines the overall calorie count of the final dish.

How do potatoes fit into a healthy diet?

Potatoes are a nutritious, versatile vegetable that can be part of a healthy diet in appropriate portions. Some key points about potatoes and nutrition:

  • Potatoes are fat-free, low in sodium, and cholesterol-free.
  • They are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber.
  • The fiber content helps you feel full with a relatively low calorie count.
  • When eaten with the skin on, the fiber content is even higher.
  • Potatoes have a high satiety index, meaning they help you feel full.

The main caveat is portion size. One medium potato is a reasonable serving that can fit into a balanced plate. But it’s easy to overdo the potato portions, driving up the calories. Sticking to 1 medium baked or boiled potato per meal is a good guideline for most people.

Tips for enjoying potatoes healthfully

Here are some tips for keeping potato calories in check:

  • Watch your portions and stick to a single medium potato, about 1 lb.
  • Leave the skin on for extra fiber and nutrients.
  • Flavor baked potatoes with herbs, spices, salsa, or plain Greek yogurt instead of fatty toppings.
  • Roast diced potatoes instead of frying for lower-calorie home fries.
  • Try cauliflower mash in place of higher-calorie potato varieties.
  • Fill your plate with non-starchy veggies to balance out the potato’s carbs.

What about glycemic index and diabetes?

Potatoes have a moderately high glycemic index (GI), meaning they cause a sharper rise in blood sugar compared to foods with a low GI. For this reason, potatoes are sometimes avoided by people with diabetes or prediabetes.

However, GI is not the only factor to consider. The glycemic load takes into account serving size as well. And potatoes have certain qualities that help slow down digestion and glucose absorption. The fiber content also limits the impact on blood sugar when eaten in reasonable amounts. While potatoes may not be the best choice for every diabetic diet, they can be incorporated in moderation in many cases.

Tips for managing blood sugar with potatoes

  • Consume potatoes as part of mixed meals that include protein, fat, and fiber.
  • Opt for smaller, lower GI varieties like new potatoes or red potatoes.
  • Choose unpeeled, high-fiber sweet potatoes as a lower GI alternative.
  • Spread potatoes out over 2-3 smaller meals rather than one large serving.
  • Monitor your individual response and avoid potatoes if they spike your blood sugar.

Potato Varieties

There are over 200 varieties of edible potatoes. Each type has slightly different characteristics, nutrient contents, textures, and best uses. But most potatoes fall into one of five main categories:

Russet Potatoes

  • High starch content
  • Fluffy, dry texture
  • Best for baking, mashing, frying
  • Included Burbank and Russet Burbank varieties

Red Potatoes

  • Moderate starch content
  • Firm, waxy texture
  • Best for boiling, roasting, potato salad
  • Includes Norland, Chieftain, and Red La Soda varieties

White Potatoes

  • Lower starch content
  • Dense, creamy texture
  • Best for soups, stews, boiling, roasting
  • Includes White Rose and Superior varieties

Yellow Potatoes

  • Medium starch content
  • Buttery, firm texture
  • Best for mashing, roasting, baking
  • Includes Yukon Gold and Yellow Finn varieties

Blue/Purple Potatoes

  • Low starch content
  • Rich, moist texture
  • Best roasted or in cold potato salads
  • Includes Purple Majesty and Blue Congo varieties

Within each of these types, the specific potato variety can also impact the precise nutrition profile. But generally the differences are not significant enough to make one variety better than another.

Healthier Ways to Prepare Potatoes

How you prepare potatoes makes a big difference in the nutrition and calorie count. Here are some of the healthiest cooking methods:

Baked Potatoes

Baking brings out the natural flavor of potatoes. Enjoy a plain baked potato with just a sprinkle of chives or parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Or try:

  • Greek yogurt, garlic, and dill
  • Broccoli and cheddar
  • Chili and cheddar
  • Salsa and black beans

Mashed Potatoes

For lower-calorie mashed potatoes:

  • Use skim or low-fat milk instead of heavy cream
  • Limit butter or swap in plain Greek yogurt
  • Flavor with garlic, herbs, spices, or horseradish
  • Try adding roasted garlic or caramelized onions

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted potatoes are crispy on the outside and tender inside. Season with:

  • Lemon, garlic, and rosemary
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • Cumin, chili powder, and paprika
  • Za’atar or Italian herb blend

Potato Nutrition Facts

Here is the full nutrition breakdown for a standard medium-sized russet potato weighing 173g (6 oz) according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 161 8%
Carbohydrates 37g 13%
Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 4g 8%
Vitamin C 20% 24%
Vitamin B6 22% 25%
Potassium 630mg 14%
Iron 3% 6%

As you can see, potatoes provide a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber. The percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Cooking Tips for Potatoes

Here are some helpful tips for preparing potatoes:

Picking Potatoes

  • Choose firm, smooth potatoes without bruises or green spots.
  • Smaller potatoes are best for roasting or boiling whole.
  • Larger potatoes work well baked or mashed.
  • Try new varieties like purple or fingerling for salads or roasting.

Storing Potatoes

  • Keep potatoes in a cool, dark place. Too much light causes greening.
  • Don’t refrigerate raw potatoes. Cold converts their starch to sugar.
  • Store baked or boiled potatoes in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

Prepping Potatoes

  • Scrub potatoes clean rather than peeling when possible to retain nutrients.
  • Cut out any eyes, sprouts or green spots before cooking.
  • Soak cut potatoes in cold water 10-15 minutes to remove starch.
  • Pat boiled or roasted potatoes dry before mashing or roasting for fluffier texture.

Seasoning Potatoes

  • Fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme and dill complement potatoes.
  • Spices like paprika, cumin and chili powder add warmth.
  • Lemon juice and zest brighten up roasted potatoes.
  • Garlic, onions and chives add savory flavor.

Common Questions

Are potatoes healthy?

Yes, potatoes can be a nutritious part of a balanced diet. They are low in fat and calories, contain no cholesterol, and provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The fiber content helps you feel full. The key is watching your portions and avoiding high-calorie toppings and preparation methods.

Are potatoes high in carbs?

Yes, the majority of calories in potatoes come from carbohydrates in the form of starch. A medium potato contains around 37g total carbs. But it also contains fiber (2g per serving), which helps slow digestion and control blood sugar. The high carb count is why portion control is important.

Are potatoes gluten free?

Yes, potatoes are naturally gluten-free. However, some processed potato products may contain gluten-containing additives. Always check the label if following a gluten-free diet.

Are potatoes Paleo or Keto?

Potatoes are not permitted on strict paleo or keto diets due to the high carb content. People following these diets aim to lower carb intake in favor of higher protein and healthy fat. Potatoes don’t fit this macronutrient profile.

Can potatoes cause weight gain?

Eating too many potatoes could lead to weight gain over time, especially if consumed with high-calorie toppings and sides. But potatoes themselves are not fattening when eaten in appropriate portions. Their fiber helps fill you up. Just be mindful of your serving size.


A medium 1 lb russet potato contains about 278 calories and 63g of carbohydrates, most of which comes from starch. Potatoes also provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While high in carbs, potatoes can be part of a healthy diet when prepared with minimal added fat and calories and eaten in moderation alongside other non-starchy vegetables. A serving of 1 medium baked, boiled, or roasted potato is a good guideline for most people. Following basic potato prep and cooking tips allows you to enjoy the taste and nutrition of potatoes while keeping calories in check.

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