Indeed, many people struggle to eat enough and end up losing weight when attempting a low FODMAP diet on their own. However, most of the time this happens because they are over-restricting their food intake or just don’t enough about the low FODMAP diet. This diet is not intuitive and hard to follow correctly without the guidance of an expert dietitian. Nonetheless, it is definitely possible to eat enough to sustain your current weight (on even put on a few pounds) once you know how to navigate the nuances of this diet.
5 Tips to Bulk Up on a Low FODMAP Diet
The good news is that there are many foods that are FODMAP-free or have negligible amounts of FODMAPs. And these are the ones you can eat to “bulk up”. One fact to keep in mind is that FODMAPs are carbohydrates. This means that animal proteins and fats do not contain FODMAPs. Therefore, these should be your “go-to” food groups if you want 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 my best tips:
1. Eat larger portions of protein-rich foods
Firstly, unless you have a health issue that requires you to limit your protein intake, such as kidney disease, you can 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. Furthermore, adding a protein powder may help you meet your calorie and protein needs.
2. Eat larger portions of low-FODMAP grains and starches.
Secondly, rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and other ancient grains make great low-FODMAP side dishes for any meal. In addition, 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. You can also have corn tortillas for tacos or fajitas.
3. Add fats & oils to your food
Thirdly, fats and oils are FODMAP-free and have 9 kilocalories per gram. In comparison, carbohydrates and proteins have 4 kilocalories per gram. This means you get more “calorie bang for your food bucks”. Use olive oil to dress salads. And olive oil or butter for low-heat sautéing; or avocado, canola, or sunflower seed oil to roast or grill.
There is some concern that high-fat meals may trigger gut symptoms in some people with IBS. However, 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.
4. Include other high-fat foods
Furthermore, you can take advantage of low-FODMAP high-fat foods such as:
- Nuts and nut butter (almond or peanut butter). Include these in meals or snacks and check the Monash FODMAP App for appropriate serving sizes.
- Cheese. Some types are virtually lactose-free: think aged cheeses like parmesan, cheddar, brie, and others (just be aware of the fat content).
- Coconut milk. The canned variety used for cooking is high in calories and can be tolerated in moderate amounts.
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. As a result, this may lead you to eat more FODMAPs and trigger symptoms. However, you can avoid this by including some snacks and thinking of them as “mini meals”. For example, instead of snacking on, let’s say, tortilla or potato chips, you can combine a carbohydrate with a healthy fat or protein for a more filling snack.
In conclusion, you can eat enough calories on a low FODMAP diet to maintain your weight. If you are struggling with IBS symptoms and are having trouble finding enough food to eat, I can help you find relief from gut symptoms and eat enough to avoid losing weight.