Potato Chips vs. French Fries: Which Is Worse?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Whether you enjoy crisp potato chips or thick-cut french fries, there’s no denying the satisfaction of eating fried potatoes. If you’re on a keto diet or just want to eat healthier, you may be wondering if there’s a healthy way to eat a potato.

Unfortunately, any cooked variation of a potato will spike insulin and kick you out of ketosis, but that doesn’t mean every potato side dish is created equal.

So, which is worse—the french fry or the potato chip? If you’re looking for the healthiest option, fries vs chips, potato chips are your best bet. Here’s why.

chips vs. fries

Fries vs. Chips 

The glycemic index tells us how much of an effect a food will have on our blood sugar. The glycemic index of potato-derived foods varies depending on the cooking methods. 

Surprisingly, a raw potato has a glycemic index of 0, so it doesn’t affect your blood sugar at all!

French fries nutrition facts

There are many different types of fries

Here are the nutrition facts for a medium order of french fries from McDonald’s:

  • 378 calories

  • 18 g fat

  • 221 mg sodium

  • 697 mg potassium

  • 50 g carbohydrates

French fries have a glycemic index of 75—anything over 70 is considered high. They’re often consumed with ketchup, which adds additional sugar, causing their glycemic index to shoot up! 

Unless you’re making french fries yourself, you can't be sure about which ingredients are being used. Fast food chains typically use chemical preservatives, additives, dextrose, and artificial flavorings. 

french-fried potatoes

Potato chips nutrition facts

The nutrition facts of a small bag of Lay’s chips:

  • 160 calories

  • 10 g fat

  • 170 mg sodium

  • 350 mg potassium

  • 15 g carbohydrates

A potato chip is made by deep frying thin slices of potatoes. Potato chips have a glycemic index of 54, which is actually pretty low.

Because potato chips are often eaten as a snack, they have the potential to raise insulin more frequently than french fries.

Consuming chips after a meal instead of as a snack can avoid excessive insulin spikes.

Most potato chips are cooked in canola oil or soy oil, which are GMO and contain glyphosate. Look for chips without added ingredients that are cooked in avocado oil or olive oil.

Which is worse?

The main difference between chips and fries is their glycemic index. French fries are also one of the most addictive foods in the world!

This study, published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed a positive correlation between french fry consumption and type 2 diabetes in women.

According to Dr. Berg, “When you consume starches that are usually cooked at temperatures above 250 degrees, it creates the chemical acrylamide, which can cause cancer.” This means that both potato chips and french fries contain acrylamide.

Although not a healthy choice, potato chips are a better choice than french fries. Check out this video to learn more.

Keto-friendly alternatives to fries and chips 

French fries and potato chips are not keto-friendly, but there are some keto-friendly alternatives. 

Cheese crisps are a crisp, satisfying snack that’s easy to make and won’t spike insulin. These delicious thin jalapeno cheese chips are a great keto-friendly substitute for french fries or chips. 

Pork rinds are another keto-friendly chip or fry alternative. This delicious pork rind nacho recipe is sure to be a hit!

cheese crisps

Key takeaways

If you want to eat your potatoes deep-fried, potato chips are a healthier choice than french fries. They are lower on the glycemic index, so they will have a minimal effect on your blood sugar. 

Avoid potato chips with added ingredients, and look for chips cooked in olive oil or avocado oil.


1. Chips vs. fries, which is healthier?

Chips are not necessarily healthy, but they are a better option than fries (aka French fries).

2. Are chips more unhealthy than fries?

No. Chips are actually a healthier option than fries. They have a lower glycemic index, so they will not spike insulin as much as french fries. 

3. Why do Americans say fries instead of chips?

In the UK, people typically call french fries chips! In the US, we use the term French fries. American English adopted this term from the Belgians during WWI.

4. Why are French fried potatoes called chips in the UK?

In British English, fried potatoes are typically referred to as chips, while potato chips are known as crisps.

5. Are french fries healthier than potato chips?

No! Potato chips are a healthier option than french fries. They are higher on the glycemic index, and the frying process often produces more carcinogens.

6. Are potatoes healthier than chips?

Raw potato has a glycemic index of 0, but not many people enjoy eating raw potatoes. Chips have a low glycemic index compared to other preparations of potatoes. 

7. Are baked chips healthier than fried potato chips?

All chips will spike insulin, but baked chips may be a less unhealthy option. Remember to always check the ingredients.

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