Vegetarian Protein Sources on a Low FODMAP Diet
Last updated: November 2020
Many people struggle to find high protein vegetarian options on a low FODMAP diet, particularly because most legumes are quite high in FODMAPs. But there are still many high protein vegetarian choices available.
High protein vegetarian choices
Because eggs are a protein source, they don’t contain FODMAPs. Eggs only become an issue when high FODMAP ingredients are cooked with them, such as when they’re scrambled or cooked into a frittata. But so long as you don’t let that happen, eggs are an excellent vegetarian protein source.
Dairy products and non-dairy alternatives
With dairy products, the main FODMAP concern is lactose, so the first step is to choose lactose-free options such as lactose-free milk, yoghurt or cream. However, do watch for added ingredients in yogurts or flavored dairy products that could be high FODMAP, especially inulin.
Some dairy products however are naturally low in lactose and suitable for a low FODMAP diet without further removal of lactose. This includes the hard cheeses such as cheddar, feta, mozzarella, and Swiss.
If however, you’d prefer to avoid all dairy products, there are low FODMAP plant-based dairy-free milk alternatives, but only soy-based products are high in protein. However, you must choose options made from soy protein isolate and not whole soybeans. With soy yogurts, you also need to check for added ingredients such as inulin. Another useful choice is soy cheese, which is also low FODMAP.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds do contain fructans and/or galacto-oligosaccharides, however many contain only small amounts of these FODMAPs and so can be eaten in reasonable portion sizes.
With nuts, some good choices are Brazil nuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts. Peanut butter is also an excellent low FODMAP choice and is a great way to boost protein.
With seeds, there are still lots of good choices, including chia, linseed, pumpkin (pepitas), sesame, and sunflower seeds. You can also have small serves of tahini, which is made from sesame seeds.
Grains and cereals
People often forget about the value of grains on a vegetarian (or vegan) diet. But grains, especially whole grains, can be a good source of protein. However, only some grains are low FODMAP.
With breads and pastas, you’re generally best with gluten-free options, provided they don’t contain high FODMAP flours such as soy flour, amaranth, besan/chickpea, coconut or lupin. However, sourdough spelt breads can also be good choices and provide a hefty dose of protein.
When it comes to grains, you can choose from buckwheat, millet, oats, polenta (cornmeal), quinoa, rice and sorghum. It’s best to choose the wholegrain versions when possible since they’ll have more nutrients. But grains are a good way to fill up and get protein, especially millet, quinoa, and sorghum.
Legumes, legume-based products and meat alternatives
This is the most challenging category on a low FODMAP diet, but there are still options available.
With legumes, it’s best to use canned varieties that have been well-drained and rinsed, because the canning process helps to remove some of the galactooligosaccharides. Still, it’s canned chickpeas and brown lentils that are the best choices for FODMAPs and protein but stick to around 40 grams in a serve. Edamame is a good option too.
There are some soy products that are suitable, including firm tofu and tempeh, both of which are good protein sources. But make sure you stay away from silken tofu, which is high FODMAP.
And don’t forget about Quorn mince, which is made from mycoprotein. So long as you start with a plain variety, Quorn is a high protein and low FODMAP vegetarian option.
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