5 Tips to Bulk Up on a Low FODMAP Diet

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Many people struggle to eat enough and end up losing weight when attempting a low FODMAP diet on their own. Most of the time this happens because they are over-restricting their food intake for fear of eating foods that may trigger symptoms. The low FODMAP diet is not intuitive and hard to follow correctly without the guidance of an expert dietitian.

The good news is that there are many foods that are FODMAP-free or have negligible amounts of FODMAPs that one can eat to “bulk up”. One fact to keep in mind is that FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates. This means that animal protein-rich foods and fats/oils do not contain FODMAPs. These should be your “go-to” food groups to add more calories to your diet without risking GI symptoms. In addition, many carbohydrate-rich foods have negligible amounts of FODMAPs and can be used to bulk up a meal.

Here are 5 Tips to make sure you eat enough calories while following a low FODMAP diet:

1. Eat larger portions of protein-rich foods.

Unless you have a health issue that requires you to limit your protein intake (for example, kidney disease), eat bigger portions of these FODMAP-free foods: beef, pork, chicken, fish/seafood and eggs. If you don’t eat animal proteins, firm tofu and tempeh are plant protein-rich foods that are very low in FODMAPs.

2. Add fats & Oils to your food.

These are FODMAP-free and have 9 kilocalories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins, which have 4 kilocalories per gram. This means you get more “calorie bang for your food bucks”. Use olive oil and nut or seed oils (walnut, flaxseeds) to dress salads; olive oil or butter for low-heat sautéing; and avocado, canola or sunflower seed oil to roast or grill. It is true that high-fat meals may trigger symptoms in some people. But there is a difference between eating deep-fried foods or fast foods (such as a burger topped with cheese and a side of French fries) and using moderate amounts of oil to flavor your food.

3. Include other high-fat foods.

  • Nuts and nut butters (almond or peanut butter) – include these in meal or snacks but keep them to no more than 2 tablespoon per sitting;

  • Cheese – some types are virtually lactose free: think aged cheeses like parmesan, cheddar, brie and others (just be aware of the fat content). 

4. Eat larger portions of low-FODMAP grains and starches.

Rice, millet, buckwheat and quinoa make great low-FODMAP side dishes to any meal. Potatoes (but not sweet potatoes) are virtually FODMAP-free. Have them as a side dish with meat, poultry or fish and roast them in oil; or make a potato salad with mayonnaise. Use corn tortillas for tacos or fajitas. 

5. Eat Regular Meals and 1-2 snacks.

Finally, don’t skip meals! This may prompt you to eat a larger meal later as you will be hungrier. Too large of a meal may lead you to eat more FODMAPs overall and trigger symptoms. Think of snacks as “mini meals” rather than snacking on, let’s say tortilla chips: brown rice cakes with nut butter; lactose-free yogurt topped with a low-FODMAP fruit; a smoothie made with lactose-free yogurt or kefir; ½ cup low FODMAP frozen fruit; 1 scoop low FODMAP protein powder; almond/lactose-free milk; 1 Tablespoon nut butter and cocoa powder and/or ice (optional).

Antonella Dewell