Did you know there are over 200 flavors of Lay’s chips? It’s true, and the flavors vary around the world. Today, let’s look at the nutrition behind five of the most popular ones. Do these chips have any benefits? Or are they just processed junk?
Lay’s chips are not very healthy due to their processed vegetable oil, moderate to high salt content, and low fiber content. Some flavors also have added sugar and other processed ingredients. The healthiest Lay’s chips are probably Baked Lay’s Original, as they have 65% less fat.
Below, I’ll analyze five Lay’s flavors and compare them to other popular snacks, such as Pringles, Doritos, and Tostitos. I’ll also explore if Lay’s are good for weight loss, low-carb diets, and more.
Are Lay’s Good for You?
Here are the 10 specific questions I’ll be answering about Lay’s nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are the Ingredients in Lay’s?
- Are Lay’s Good for Weight Loss?
- Are Lay’s Low Carb?
- Are Lay’s High in Fiber?
- Are Lay’s Baked or Fried?
- Are Lay’s High in Sodium?
- Are Lay’s Healthier Than Pringles?
- Are Lay’s Healthier Than Doritos?
- Which Lay’s Are the Healthiest?
- What Do Lay’s Chips Do to Your Body?
1. What Are the Ingredients in Lay’s?
Let’s start by looking at the ingredients for 5 popular flavors of Lay’s. I’ll share my takeaway points below the table:
|Lay’s Classic||Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola, Corn, Soybean, and/or Sunflower Oil), and Salt.|
|Lay’s BBQ||Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola, Corn, Soybean, and/or Sunflower Oil), and Salt, Barbecue Seasoning (Sugar, Dextrose, Salt, Maltodextrin [Made From Corn], Molasses, Torula Yeast, Onion Powder, Spices, Tomato Powder, Paprika, Natural Flavors, Corn Starch, Caramel Color, Yeast Extract, Paprika Extract, Garlic Powder, and Mustard Seed Oil).|
|Lay’s Salt & Vinegar||Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn and/or Canola Oil), Salt & Vinegar Seasoning (Maltodextrin [Made From Corn], Natural Flavors, Salt, Malic Acid, and Vinegar).|
|Lay’s Lightly Salted Classic||Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn, and/or Canola Oil), and Salt.|
|Lay’s Baked Original||Dried Potatoes, Corn Starch, Corn Oil, Sugar, Sea Salt, Soy Lecithin, Dextrose, And Annatto Extracts. Contains Soy Ingredients.|
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Lay’s are made with real potatoes. By themselves, potatoes are not bad. Potatoes are very filling, and many people use them successfully for weight loss. The problem is just the other ingredients they are often combined with…
- Lay’s have processed vegetable oil. Lay’s can have corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and/or sunflower oil, depending on the flavor. All those are highly processed oils that add mostly empty calories. The amount of oil in Lay’s is likely the worst thing about them, nutritionally. Baked Lay’s have a bit less, though. More detail below.
- Lay’s have added salt. This is to be expected in chips—but it’s worth noting. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lay’s does have a “Lightly Salted” flavor with less salt, though. More on sodium content below.
- Many flavors of Lay’s have added sugar. Out of the 5 flavors I analyzed, 2 of them have added sugar. Below, we’ll look at how much sugar they actually have.
Overall, Lay’s ingredients don’t look too great. After the potatoes, it’s mostly bad news. But below, let’s compare them to other snacks to put things in perspective.
- Are Lay’s Chips “Processed”? Lay’s have processed vegetable oil and added salt. Some flavors also have added sugar and other processed ingredients. Therefore, Lay’s can be considered processed food.
- Are Lay’s “Junk Food”? Lay’s may commonly be considered junk food. However, “junk food” is not a precise term, and Lay’s aren’t as bad as some other junk foods. If you eat a small portion of Lay’s as part of an overall healthy diet, you’ll probably be fine.
2. Are Lay’s Good for Weight Loss?
Lay’s are not great for weight loss, as they have processed, high-calorie ingredients like vegetable oil, with relatively low fiber content. However, Lay’s could still be eaten in moderation on a weight loss diet.
One of the most important principles for weight loss is calorie density. High calorie density foods tend to lead to overeating, as you’d need to eat a lot of calories to fill your stomach with those foods.
And one of the foods with the highest calorie density is vegetable oil—which is found in every flavor of Lay’s we looked at.
Another thing to consider is the low fiber in Lay’s. Other snacks could help fill you up with more fiber and keep you better satisfied on a weight-loss diet. (More about Lay’s fiber content below.)
So, can Lay’s make you fat? Yes, they could contribute to weight gain. That said, by itself, a few servings of Lay’s won’t ruin your diet, either. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.
If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating, you should lose weight. Eating Lay’s or other processed foods on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet, as long as the overall calorie deficit is in tact.
For more help with weight loss, check out this post with 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.
- How many calories are in one Lay’s chip? Lay’s chips have about 10 or 11 calories per chip. However, Baked Lay’s only have about 7 calories per chip.
3. Are Lay’s Low Carb?
Lay’s are not a low-carb food. Lay’s Classic potato chips have 15g of total carbs per serving. Around 38% of the calories in Lay’s come from carbohydrates. That said, Lay’s are low in sugar—many flavors even have less than a 1g of sugar.
The main ingredient in Lay’s is potatoes. Potatoes are high in carbs, so Lay’s are high in carbs, too. Lay’s have a lot of vegetable oil, so they are high in fat, too… but still, they have around 15g of carbs per serving, depending on the flavor.
- Are Lay’s Good For Keto? Lay’s chips are not good for keto. They are too high in carbs, at about 38% carbohydrate calories.
- What is a good low-carb alternative to Lay’s chips? You might want to try flax crackers. Flax crackers contain healthy omega-3 fats, they are low in carbs, and they are very crunchy. They can be hard to find in stores, so try this popular brand on Amazon.
4. Are Lay’s High in Fiber?
Lay’s chips have 1g of dietary fiber per serving. That is more fiber than Pringles and the same fiber content as Tostitos tortilla chips. However, Lay’s only have about one-third as much fiber as whole-wheat crackers like Triscuits or Wheat Thins.
Fiber is one of the healthiest nutrients to check for in potential snacks. Fiber can have many impacts on health in the long run, and barely anyone eats enough. Generally, whole-grain snacks contain more fiber.
Here is a table comparing the fiber content of Lay’s to other popular snacks:
|Lay’s Classic Potato Chips||28g||1g|
|Tostitos Restaurant Style||28g||1g|
|Doritos Nacho Cheese||28g||1g|
|Ritz Original Crackers||16g||0g|
|Wheat Thins Original||31g||3g|
I didn’t include all the flavors of Lay’s in this table, but all 5 flavors I checked all have 1g of fiber per serving.
5. Are Lay’s Baked or Fried?
Lay’s has a “Baked” line of chips, but their normal chips are fried. Here is a video showing how Lay’s chips are made:
Often, when people ask whether a food is baked or fried, what they really want to know is how much oil and fat that food contains. This matters because oil adds relatively empty calories, and it may have other detrimental health effects, as well.
- Most flavors of Lay’s have around 10g of total fat per serving. This mostly comes in the form of unsaturated fat from corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and/or sunflower oil. Regular Lay’s have 1.5g of saturated fat per serving, and 0g of trans fat.
- Baked Lay’s only have 3.5g of total fat per serving. This is 65% less fat than regular Lay’s, which is an impressive reduction. Baked Lay’s are also free of saturated fat. But it’s still worth noting: Baked Lay’s are not a fat-free food.
6. Are Lay’s High in Sodium?
Lay’s Classic chips have a moderate to high amount of sodium, with 170mg per serving. That is a little above average for popular brands of chips and crackers. If you want low-sodium Lay’s chips, you can choose the Lightly Salted flavor, with only 65mg of sodium per serving.
Here’s a table showing the sodium of 5 popular Lay’s flavors, with comparison to other brands of chips:
|Lay’s Salt & Vinegar||220mg|
|Lay’s Lightly Salted||65mg|
|Lay’s Baked Original||160mg|
|For Comparison: Pringles Original||150mg|
|For Comparison: Pringles Lightly Salted||70mg|
|For Comparison: Doritos Nacho Cheese||210mg|
|For Comparison: Tostitos Restaurant Style||115mg|
For reference: The American Heart Association recommends limiting your sodium to 2,300mg per day. But they are “moving toward an ideal limit” of only 1,500mg per day. That would still be about 9 servings of Lay’s Classic chips. So, surely, these chips could be eaten in moderation by most people.
7. Are Lay’s Healthier Than Pringles?
Compared to Pringles, Lay’s Classic chips have less saturated fat and fewer added ingredients, but a bit more sodium. These nutritional differences are somewhat minor. Lay’s and Pringles are both processed, relatively unhealthy snacks.
Here’s the detailed side-by-side comparison of Lay’s vs Pringles:
|Snack||Serving Size||Sat. Fat||Sodium||Sugar||Fiber|
|Lays Classic||15 chips (28g)||1.5g||170mg||<1g||1g|
|Pringles Original||15 chips (28g)||2.5g||150mg||0g||<1g|
Another difference between Lay’s and Pringles is in the ingredients list. Lays Classic chips have very minimal ingredients—basically just potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt.
However, Pringles have a few more ingredients, including degerminated yellow corn flour, cornstarch, rice flour, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, and wheat starch.
None of those ingredients dramatically change the nutritional profile of Pringles as compared to Lay’s. But some people would prefer the minimal ingredients list of Lay’s.
Overall, to be frank, Lay’s and Pringles are both similarly bad for you.
8. Are Lay’s Healthier Than Doritos?
Lay’s chips are likely a bit healthier than Doritos. Lay’s are lower in sodium and sugar, they have fewer calories per chip, and they don’t have the artificial colors of Doritos. However, Lay’s have more saturated fat per serving than Doritos. Overall, they are both relatively unhealthy.
Here is a table comparing Lay’s vs Doritos side-by-side:
|Snack||Serving Size||Sat. Fat||Sodium||Sugar||Fiber|
|Lays Classic||15 chips (28g)||1.5g||170mg||<1g||1g|
|Doritos Nacho Cheese||12 chips (28g)||1.0g||210mg||1g||1g|
While Lay’s have about 10 and 11 calories per chip, Doritos have more like 12 or 13 calories per chip. So on a per-chip basis, Lay’s may be a bit of a lighter snack.
The ingredients for Lay’s are also much simpler. The ingredients list for Doritos is quite long, including artificial colors, which have been linked to behavioral issues in some children.
9. What Are the Healthiest Lay’s Chips?
The healthiest flavor of Lay’s is probably Baked Lay’s Original, as it has less vegetable oil compared to regular Lay’s. However, Baked Lay’s do come with some more processed carb ingredients—corn starch, sugar, and dextrose. So it’s a trade off.
Another healthier option is Lay’s Lightly Salted. It only has about 40% of the sodium of regular Lay’s. If you’re trying to eat a low-sodium diet, that might make a meaningful difference.
But the fact of the matter is, even if you reduce the sodium or fat content of Lay’s a bit, you are still left with a pretty unhealthy chip. It’s still low in fiber and other nutrients. It’s still mostly just starchy carbs, vegetable oil, and salt.
Unfortunately, all flavors of Lay’s are pretty unhealthy.
10. What Do Lay’s Chips Do to Your Body?
What happens if you eat Lay’s every day? Or what happens if you eat way too many Lay’s? Well, how Lay’s affect your body will depend on your overall diet.
If you only eat a few Lay’s daily—and if your lifestyle is healthy overall—then you likely won’t face any bad consequences. It’s not like they’re poison. After all, the first ingredient is just potatoes.
However, if you eat whole bags of Lay’s—and if your overall diet and lifestyle is unhealthy—that could cause bad consequences in the long-term. What kind of specific issues?
The biggest issue is probably that Lay’s may lead you to eat excess calories. Since they are a salty, delicious food with a high calorie-density, they are easy to overeat. And if you overeat calories too often, you could have weight gain and associated health issues.
Another potential problem is eating Lay’s as part of a high-sodium diet. Excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other issues.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.
2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).