Learn how to cook potatoes and potato substitutes in ways that actually help your weight loss

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Potato lovers desiring weight loss can learn how to cook potatoes in a slightly healthier way. And, yes, smaller portions are one key to success.

How to cook potatoes for weight loss

Is it possible to cook potatoes for weight-loss success?

Potato bashers (not "mashers") say to avoid potatoes because they are white, high-carb, and have a high glycemic index. Let's fact-check those claims.

Potatoes are white.

Yes, some are, although many aren't. There are white, red, yellow, and even purple potatoes. Fun fact: Purple potatoes are quite high in antioxidants called anthocyanins, the same antioxidant found in berries.

Potatoes are high-carb.

Yes, absolutely. About 90% of the calories are carbs. They're also high in fiber, very low fat, and do offer protein, all pluses! See chart below.

Potatoes are high in calories.

A large, 10-ounce baked potato has almost 300 calories; a more small, two-inch, four-ounce potato has roughly 130 calories. But if you load your large baked potato with a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of sour cream, you add on 200 more calories.

Potatoes have a high glycemic index.

A four-ounce potato has about 20 grams of carbohydrates. Yes, the glycemic index of potatoes is higher than many other foods. In reality, though, we most often eat mixed meals, not single foods. Eating a small portion of potatoes with lean protein and non-starchy veggies will slow digestion, keeping you full longer and helping with your weight loss plan. This will work much better than eating a solo 10-ounce baked potato with lots of toppings.

These healthy potato facts may explain why potatoes have been a diet staple for centuries

What if you're trying to reduce carbs? Try these suggestions when you want to cook potatoes for your weight-loss plan

Nutrient values for potatoes and lower-carb substitutes

4 oz serving, raw Calories Total carb Fiber Protein Vitamin A Vitamin C
White potato 87 19.8g 2.4g 2.3g 0 mcg 22 mg
Red potato 79 18.0 1.9 2.1 0 10
Sweet potato 98 22.8 3.4 1.8 804 3
Butternut squash 51 13.3 2.3 1.1 603 24
Spaghetti squash 35 7.8 1.7 .7 7 2
Turnip 32 7.3 2 1.0 0 24
Jicama 43 10 5.6 .8 1 23
Carrot 46 10.9 3.2 1.1 947 7
Rutabaga 42 9.8 2.6 1.2 0 28
Cauliflower 28 5.6 2.3 2.2 0 55

Healthy potato and potato substitute recipes for your weight-loss plan

Seasoned Grilled Potatoes:

Boil or microwave whole potatoes until barely fork tender. If microwaving large potatoes, pierce the skin with a fork several times. Cool and slice in half. Or if they are small, like fingerling potatoes, leave whole. Toss the cooled potato slices in a bowl with your oil of choice. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs and spice like a dusting of paprika or chili powder for flavor. Dill - dried or minced - is also good. Heat your grill and cook the potatoes, turning once, until they're fork-tender, but not falling apart. If you're cooking other foods, transfer potatoes to the warming section of the grill. Serve as is, or garnish with salsa or a splash of balsamic vinegar. A four-ounce grilled potato serving will have roughly 145 calories, 24 g carb, 3 g protein, 2.5 g fiber, 2.3 g fat, depending on the amount of oil added.

Create your own custom variation of this potato recipe and enter it into MyNetDiary as a custom recipe.

Spinach & Red Pepper Frittata - This delicious frittata mixes in potatoes with an array of other vegetables.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Breakfast Burritos - These vegetarian breakfast burritos offer 14.4 g fiber per serving.

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie - Enjoy a delicious, nutrient-packed smoothie at only 294 calories per serving

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower - This popular recipe substitutes lower-carb cauliflower for potatoes.

With these ideas, you're sure to cook potatoes or potato alternatives in ways that are healthier for your weight-loss goals.

Contributions by Donna P Feldman MS RDN

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Foods & Recipes->Potatoes & French Fries Nutrients->Potassium
Nov 5, 2021

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