Is a baked potato good for a low carb diet?

Quick Answer

A baked potato is not ideal for a low carb diet. A medium-sized baked potato contains around 37 grams of carbs, which is quite high for a low carb meal. However, there are some ways to modify a baked potato to make it lower in carbs, such as skipping the skin or replacing starchy fillings with low carb alternatives like cauliflower or cheese. Overall, potatoes are a starchy vegetable that are best limited on a low carb diet.

What is a Low Carb Diet?

A low carb diet limits carbohydrates to help manage blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. The amount of carbs allowed per day or meal varies, but common ranges are:

  • Very low carb: Under 50 grams of carbs per day
  • Moderate low carb: 50-130 grams of carbs per day
  • Liberal low carb: Up to 150 grams of carbs per day

On a very strict low carb diet, one meal may contain only 15-30 grams of carbs. More relaxed low carb diets may allow up to 45-60 grams of carbs per meal.

The primary sources of carbs to limit on a low carb diet include:

  • Grains like bread, pasta, rice, cereal
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, peas
  • Fruit and fruit juice
  • Sugars including table sugar, honey, syrup
  • Processed snack foods and desserts

Low carb diets focus on eating more protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables. This way of eating helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. It may also reduce appetite and lead to sustainable weight loss over time.

Carb Content in Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are high in carbs relative to the amounts allowed on a low carb diet.

Here is an overview of the carb content in different sizes of plain baked potatoes with skin:

Baked Potato Size Grams of Carbs
Small (5 oz) 26 grams
Medium (7 oz) 37 grams
Large (10 oz) 57 grams
Extra Large (12 oz) 73 grams

As shown, even a small baked potato contains over 25 grams of carbs. That could easily surpass the amount allowed for a single low carb meal.

The majority of carbs in a baked potato come from starch. Potatoes are an underground storage organ for plants, and contain a high concentration of starch to provide energy.

One medium baked potato with skin provides about:

  • 37 grams of total carbs
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 34 grams of starch
  • 3 grams of sugars

So over 90% of the carbs in a potato come from starch alone. This makes potatoes a very dense source of carbohydrates.

Ways to Make Baked Potatoes Lower Carb

There are some modifications that can be made to baked potatoes to reduce their carb content:

Skip the Skin

About half of a potato’s fiber and nutrients are found in the skin, but it also contains roughly 50% of the carb content. Removing the potato skin lowers the carbs by about 13 grams for a medium potato.

Scoop Out the Insides

You can scoop out the fluffy inner potato flesh after baking, leaving just a potato shell. Replace the insides with lower carb fillings like cauliflower, broccoli, cheese, Greek yogurt, etc.

Portion Control

Stick to a very small baked potato, around 3-4 ounces. This provides about 13 grams of carbs.

Change the Cooking Method

Boiling or steaming potatoes causes less starch gelatinization compared to baking them. This may slightly lower the carb content.

Use Lower Carb Substitutes

Replace potatoes with lower carb vegetables like cauliflower, turnips, radishes, jicama, or zucchini. For example, make twice-baked zucchini boats instead of twice baked potatoes.

Health Concerns with Low Carb Diets

Although low carb diets can be healthy for some people, there are some drawbacks to consider:

  • May be low in fiber without enough non-starchy vegetables
  • Can be unbalanced if focused on high protein and fat without carbs
  • May increase risk of nutrient deficiencies over time
  • Reduces intake of beneficial plant compounds found in carbs
  • May cause low energy levels, headaches, cramps in some people as body adapts

To follow a low carb diet safely long-term, it’s important to work with a healthcare provider and focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods like:

  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lean proteins
  • High-fiber, low glycemic index fruits like berries
  • Healthy fats from oils, avocados, fish
  • Herbs, spices, and condiments for flavor

Food Alternatives to Baked Potatoes on a Low Carb Diet

Here are some lower carb food alternatives that can be used in place of baked potatoes:


Cauliflower is very versatile and can be modified to mimic mashed potatoes or even baked into “faux-tato” slices. Simply replace potatoes with riced or mashed cauliflower in any recipe. A cup of raw cauliflower has just 5 grams of carbs.


Turnips can be diced and roasted for a lower carb potato substitute. They have just 8 grams of carbs per cup when raw. Try mixing turnips with cauliflower too.


Radishes have a natural spicy kick that evokes the flavor of potatoes. Grate radishes raw onto salads or roast them in wedges similar to baked potatoes. They contain about 4 grams of carbs per cup raw.


This root vegetable has a very mild flavor but a crisp, juicy texture when eaten raw. Peel and slice jicama into fries or sticks as an alternative to potato-based recipes. There are just 11 grams of carbs in 1 cup of raw jicama sticks.

Spaghetti Squash

When cooked, this yellow squash pulls apart into noodle-like strands resembling spaghetti. It can be served in place of mashed potatoes or pasta. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 10 grams of carbs.

Zucchini or Eggplant

These low carb veggies can be sliced, roasted, mashed, or used to make vegetable lasagna noodles. Zucchini or eggplant work perfectly in recipes calling for soft, tender baked potatoes.

Should You Eat Baked Potatoes on a Low Carb Diet?

Baked potatoes are not the best option for a low carb diet given their high starch content. However, they can be incorporated into a low carb eating pattern in moderation by:

  • Consuming small portions less than 5 ounces
  • Limiting potato dishes to 1-2 times per week max
  • Pairing potatoes with lower carb sides like a salad
  • Adjusting cooking methods and skipping skin to reduce carbs
  • Eating potatoes only during periods with higher carb allowances, if following a carb cycling diet

With smart modifications and portion control, baked potatoes can occasionally be enjoyed as part of an overall low carb lifestyle focused primarily on non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. For the lowest carb options, swapping potatoes for alternatives like cauliflower, jicama, or zucchini noodles makes it easier to stay within carb limits.


Baked potatoes are high in starchy carbs and not an optimal choice for low carb diets. A medium plain baked potato has about 37 grams of total carbs, exceeding the limits of most low carb meal plans. However, baked potatoes can be modified and incorporated into a low carb diet sparingly by removing the skin, reducing portions, changing cooking methods, and pairing them with lower carb foods. Replacing potatoes with lower carb vegetables like cauliflower, jicama, and zucchini makes it easier to meet low carb goals while still enjoying similar flavors and textures. With some adjustments, an occasional small baked potato can be included as part of an overall low carb way of eating focused on nutrient-dense whole foods.

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