Rethinking Carbs: Are Potatoes Good for Weight Loss?

A woman making mashed potatoes

When you’re creating a weight loss diet, potatoes aren’t usually the first food that comes to mind. This is because they have a bad reputation for being fatty and high in carbohydrates.

However, potatoes can be a great addition to any weight-loss-friendly diet if you know how to prepare them correctly.

In this article, we’ll look at how potatoes can promote weight loss, healthy ways to add them to your diet, and factors to consider when caring for your overall well-being.

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What is the Potato Diet?

The potato diet is a short-term eating plan that focuses on consuming potatoes to promote weight loss.

Its strict limitations make this diet a popular choice for individuals looking to lose weight quickly without extensive meal planning or exercise.

Typically, the potato diet involves eating nothing but plain potatoes for three to five days.

How does this diet help support weight loss?

Caloric restriction

Potatoes are naturally low in calories but have a high fiber and water content, which can help you feel full longer.

By eating only potatoes, you might consume fewer calories than you normally do, leading to a calorie deficit.

This can give you faster weight loss results, especially when paired with increased physical activity.

Nutrient density

Potatoes are rich in important nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6, which support overall health.

The high potassium content can also help reduce water retention and bloating, contributing to a slimmer appearance.

How long should you follow the potato diet?

The potato diet is intended for short-term use and should not be followed for more than five days.

This is because the diet isn’t balanced enough to meet all the body’s nutritional needs.

Following it long-term can cause deficiencies and other health issues that can impact your quality of life.

How Can Adding Potatoes to Your Diet Promote Weight Loss?

High in fiber

Potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, especially when you eat the skins, too.

Fiber is essential for weight management as it promotes feelings of fullness and reduces appetite.

By increasing satiety, fiber also helps you consume fewer calories throughout the day, creating the calorie deficit required for weight loss.

The resistant starch found in potatoes is also beneficial for feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut, which can enhance metabolism and further support weight loss.

Low in calories

When they’re not fried or loaded with butter, cheese, or cream, potatoes are relatively low in calories.

This makes them a great option for promoting satiety without adding excess calories, which is crucial for creating a calorie deficit.

Enhanced thermogenic effect

Potatoes are whole, unprocessed carbohydrates, which require more energy to digest compared to processed foods.

Therefore eating potatoes can increase the number of calories your body burns during digestion — known as the thermogenic effect — which can further promote weight loss.

Common Myths about Potatoes and Weight Loss

Myth 1: Potatoes are fattening

Potatoes are not inherently fattening. In fact, they can be a healthy part of any diet when prepared and portioned correctly.

A medium potato is naturally fat-free and contains about 150 calories.

The misconception that potatoes are fattening often arises from common preparation methods that involve high-fat ingredients — such as frying or adding butter, cheese, or sour cream.

However, when cooked without added fats and served with healthy toppings, potatoes can be a nutritious, satisfying, and low-calorie component of a weight loss diet.

Myth 2: Potatoes are empty calories

Labeling potatoes as "empty calories" is a misconception that ignores their nutritional value.

Potatoes are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as:

  • Vitamin C, which supports immune function, skin health, and iron absorption

  • Potassium, which is crucial for heart health and muscle function

  • Vitamin B6, which is vital for energy metabolism and brain health

In addition to these nutrients, potatoes are also high in fiber, which helps improve digestion and contributes to satiety.

How to Incorporate Potatoes into a Weight Loss-Friendly Diet

Healthy recipe ideas

Following healthy recipes is the easiest way to ensure your potato consumption supports your weight loss goals. Here are some ideas:

  • Herbed boiled potatoes: Boil whole potatoes or cube them, then toss with a mix of fresh herbs — like parsley, dill, or chives — a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper. This is a simple, flavorful dish without extra calories.

  • Spicy roasted potatoes: Cut potatoes into wedges and toss with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Roast in the oven until crispy for a healthy alternative to french fries. This method enhances the natural flavor of potatoes without needing to deep-fry them.

  • Mashed potatoes with Greek yogurt: Prepare mashed potatoes using plain Greek yogurt instead of butter or cream. This not only reduces the fat content but also adds a creamy texture and protein boost to make your meal more nutritious.

  • Potato and vegetable hash: Sauté diced potatoes with a variety of colorful vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and spinach. This is a great way to increase your vegetable intake while enjoying the satisfying heartiness of potatoes.

Portion control

Although potatoes can be a healthy addition to a healthy diet, consuming too many can contribute to extra calories and weight gain.

You can avoid this by:

  • Measuring your servings: Keep portions in check by measuring your potatoes before cooking them. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a serving size of about ½ to ¾ cup of cooked potatoes for a filling portion that doesn’t add too many calories.

  • Being mindful of add-ons: When topping or mixing potatoes with other ingredients, be mindful of their caloric impact. Choose toppings like herbs, spices, and low-calorie condiments, and avoid high-fat options like cheese and bacon bits.

Choosing the right preparation method

Using the right preparation method for cooking your potatoes is essential for avoiding extra calories that could cause you to gain weight.

Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Opt for boiling, steaming, or baking: These cooking methods don’t require extra fat and can help keep the calorie count lower. Avoid frying and mashing with excessive butter or cream.

  • Cool potatoes before eating: Prepare potatoes ahead of time and let them cool in the fridge to increase their resistant starch content. This type of starch promotes satiety and may also help you burn fat.

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When Should You Avoid Consuming Potatoes?

While potatoes can generally fit into most dietary plans, there are specific circumstances where it might be necessary to avoid them. These include:

  • Having a carbohydrate-sensitive condition, such as diabetes or insulin resistance

  • Following a low-carb or ketogenic diet

  • Having a nightshade sensitivity or allergy

  • Suffering from digestive health concerns or gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating or gas

  • Following anti-inflammatory diets due to health conditions

In these cases, potatoes can worsen your symptoms or negatively influence your eating pattern.

It might be best to avoid potatoes completely or replace them with alternatives like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or butternut squash.

These vegetables offer many nutritional benefits and won’t interfere with any health conditions or specific diets.

When Should You See a Doctor About Weight Loss?

Embarking on a weight loss journey is a personal decision, but you should always prioritize your overall health when trying to slim down.

While most weight loss efforts don’t require a doctor's visit, some conditions may need professional care if they occur.

These may include:

  • Experiencing significant unintended weight loss

  • Having pre existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure

  • Struggling with weight loss or regaining weight quickly

  • Considering weight loss surgery or medication

  • Experiencing eating disorder symptoms

  • Developing mental health issues

Consulting a doctor under these circumstances can help ensure that you lose weight safely and maintain your overall health.

Your doctor can also recommend any dietary and lifestyle adjustments or medications that may be necessary to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Where Can You Learn More About Healthy Eating Habits and Weight Loss?

If you’re looking for more information on healthy eating habits or want to learn about other ways to lose weight, LifeMD has got you covered.

We can connect you to a team of medical professionals who can provide guidance on weight loss strategies and even prescribe appropriate medication — like Ozempic — to help you lose weight safely.

LifeMD also offers continuous support from licensed healthcare providers to help you lose weight and improve your overall health through our Weight Management Program — all from the comfort of your home.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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