Potatoes are one of the most beloved foods in the western world. Whether it’s french fries, hash browns, boiled or mashed, the average American downs more than thirty pounds per year. And of course, we love it alongside our meat. So, it’s no surprise that the potato is our favorite vegetable.
So, what happens when we switch to the weight loss keto diet?
Do we have to abandon our favorite vegetable or does it make it onto the approved keto foods list?
In this article, we get the definitive answer as to whether our favorite vegetable is on the list of approved low-carb diet ketogenic foods.
Are Potatoes Keto Friendly?
The quick and rather painful answer is No – potatoes are most definitely not on the list of keto foods that are suitable for a low-carb diet!
When you are on the ketogenic diet, you need to keep your daily carb count to 20 grams or less per day in order to stay in a state of ketosis. That will force the body to consume all of its stored glucose and turn to stored body fat in order to fuel your energy needs.
White potatoes are a starchy food that is high in carbohydrates. They are also high on the glycemic index, whch is a measure of the level to which a food increases a person’s blood glucose level. A serving sized portion of boiled white potatoes has a glycemic index level of 78, which is even more than a slice of bread (75 on the glycemic index). Roasted potatoes provide a similar number.
A hundred grams of roasted white potato will add 17 grams of carbs to your system. With a decent sized potato being twice that size, for every potato you eat, you will be adding about 34 grams of carbs. That is one and a half times more than your keto daily carb limit. In fact, four potatoes will bust your entire 5-day keto carb limit! That is not good if you are intent on weight loss.
By the way, sweet potatoes are also a no go keto food. Sweet potatoes are even higher in carbs than white potatoes. So, you can cross sweet potatoes off your grocery list!
Nutrition Profile of Potato
Potatoes excel in providing essential energy from complex carbohydrates—necessary for the body to perform optimally on a conventional but bad news for those on a low carb keto diet. They are also a great source of vegetable proteins, with a ratio of protein to carbohydrates higher than in most cereals and other roots and tuber crops.
Here is a complete nutritional breakdown for the russet potato . . .
- 94 calories
- 0.15 grams of fat
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 21.08 grams of carbohydrate
- 2.1 grams of dietary fiber
- 2.10 grams of protein
- 10 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 0.64 mg of iron
- 27 mg of magnesium
- 75 mg of phosphorus
- 544 mg of potassium
- 12.6 mg of vitamin C
- 0.211 mg of vitamin B6
- 38 micrograms (mcg) of folate
Benefits of Potato
An average potato contains high amounts of vitamin C and potassium, in addition to vitamin B6 and magnesium; and some darker-skinned potatoes contain a higher level of antioxidants than others. On top of those benefits, a plain potato has no fat, a small amount of protein, sodium, or cholesterol and is vegan and gluten-free!
A Fantastic Potato Alternative
Naturally, most of us are pretty disappointed to discover that potatoes are ‘no go’ on the keto diet. Thankfully, there is a pretty awesome keto approved alternative – the cauliflower!
The cauliflower is the lowest carb vegetable that we know of. That makes it ideal for keto. It is also a premium brain food because it is rich in the nutrient choline. Choline is essential for brain development—it helps to repair and maintain cell membranes. The cauliflower’s also an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins C, K and B group and the minerals manganese, potassium, and magnesium.
The cauliflower also contains glucosinolates, which are sulphur-containing compounds that break down into phytochemicals when you chew. These compounds inhibit enzymes that can activate carcinogens, help eliminate carcinogens from your body and are thought to suppress tumor development.
What all of that means is that the cauliflower makes a perfect keto diet friendly substitute for the potato.
Awesome Cauliflower Recipes
You will love these low carb keto recipes that provide options for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They taste great and have minimal carb content, making them keto friendly.
KETO CAULIFLOWER, FETA AND SUNFLOWER NIBBLES
Recipes make 24 nibbles
- 80 g (6½ oz) cauliflower florets
- 130 g (4½ oz/1 cup) grated firm dry feta
- 95 g (3¼ oz/½ cup) lentil flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 55 g (2 oz/⅓ cup) sunflower seeds
- 2 eggs, beaten well 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Line a 32 cm (12½ inch) square baking tray with parchment paper.
Place the cauliflower in a food processor and finely chop. Transfer to a dish towel and, using your hands, wring out as much liquid as possible. Tip into a bowl with the remaining ingredients, stirring with a fork to mix well.
Using your hands, spread the mixture evenly over the tray so it covers it completely. Bake for about 50 minutes, turning the tray occasionally so the mixture cooks evenly, or until deep golden. While still hot, cut into 24 pieces and transfer to a wire rack to cool. If the nibbles soften too much, stick them back in a 160°C (320°F) oven for about 10 minutes until crisp.
CAULIFLOWER, POTATO AND FETA BOREK
Recipes make 24 borek
- 350 g (12 oz/about 2) red-skinned or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces
- 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 400 g (14 oz/about ½ small) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 150 g (5½ oz) feta cheese, finely crumbled
- Small handful of mint leaves, chopped
- Small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten well
- 375 g (13 oz) filo pastry
- 175 g (6 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg yolk
- Nigella seeds, for sprinkling
Cook the potato in boiling, salted water for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the cauliflower and garlic, then cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is very tender. If it threatens to stick, add 1–2 tablespoons of water. Remove from the heat, add the potato then, using a potato masher, mash together to form a coarse purée. Cool slightly.
Stir the allspice, feta and herbs into the cauliflower mixture, then season to taste and stir in the egg.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
Lay the filo sheets on the bench and cover with a damp dish towel to prevent drying out. Place 1 sheet of pastry on a board and brush it lightly all over with melted butter. Place another sheet on top and brush with butter; repeat with another sheet so you have a stack of three layers. Cut the pastry into quarters.
Working with one piece of pastry at a time, brush around the edges lightly with butter, then place 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture along a long edge of the pastry, forming it into a log about 8 cm (3¼ inches) long. Fold the two sides of pastry over the filling and brush with butter. Roll the pastry up to form a neat log. Repeat with the remaining pastry, butter and filling, placing the borek on the tray.
Stir the egg yolk in a bowl with 1 tablespoon water. Brush over the top of each borek, then sprinkle lightly with nigella seeds. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Find more great recipes here.
CAULIFLOWER BLUE CHEESE SCONES
(You will love these for breakfast).
Recipes make 10 scones
20 small–medium cauliflower florets
370 g (13 oz/2½ cups) whole-wheat flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
50 g (1¾ oz/scant ¼ cup) unsalted butter, chopped
200 g (7 oz) gorgonzola cheese, chopped
2½ tablespoons finely chopped chives
300 ml (10½ fl oz) buttermilk, approximately
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 2–3 minutes or until the cauliflower is semi-cooked.
Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then rub in half the gorgonzola. Stir in the chives, add the buttermilk and then, working quickly, stir with a flat-bladed knife to form a coarse, sticky dough. Add a little extra buttermilk if the mixture is too dry.
Turn out onto a floured board and, using your hands, lightly knead until the dough just comes together—take care not to overwork or the scones will be tough. Using your hands, pat out to a rough 20 x 15 cm (8 x 6 inch) rectangle, using a large knife to push the edges square. Cut out rounds with a 6.5 cm (2½ inch) cutter. Press together any scraps, re-roll and cut out more rounds—you should have 10. Press the remaining cheese gently into the scone tops. Press the cauliflower florets into the tops, stems down, then transfer to the baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes or until risen, golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Scones are best served on the day they are made.
The bad news is that the potato does not make the ketogenic diet grade. No matter how you slice (or dice, boil or mash it), it’s just too high in carbs to be keto friendly.
The good news is that there is an alternative – the good old cauliflower is definitely keto friendly – and delicious. Give it a try and you’ll soon forget all about potatoes, while staying on track with the ketogenic diet.