Nowadays, switching to a vegetarian diet has become increasingly popular, keeping in mind the ethical considerations and the health benefits that come with it.
However, it’s sometimes challenging to ensure that you have met your body’s nutritional requirements, especially for fitness enthusiasts who look forward to increasing their protein intake while restricting carbs at the same time.
Luckily, there are innumerable high protein low carb vegetarian foods available, helping people follow a vegetarian diet and stay healthy and meet their fitness goals.
In this guide, we have discussed some of the best low carb high protein foods that one must consider to incorporate when following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
15 High Protein Low Carb Vegetarian Foods
People often tend to believe that plant-based proteins are insufficient and are inferior when compared to animal sources like meat.
However, when consumed in the right amounts, even plant sources provide the same amount of proteins as animal sources.
Note that the nutritional values have been stated keeping a 100 g serving of the item as the standard.
Seitan is a meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten flour, which is hydrated and cooked to produce a plant-based protein.
It can be purchased as a standalone product or added to various pre-made plant-based meat alternatives like burgers, hot dogs, and deli slices. Seitan can be incorporated into many recipes as a meat substitute.
The quantity of protein per serving of seitan may differ depending on the ingredients used to produce it.
Adding soy or chickpea flour to seitan products can increase their protein content, making them an even better source of protein.
Here are the nutrition facts of seitan:
- Calories: 370 kcal
- Protein: 75 g
- Carbs: 14 g
- Fiber: 0.6 g
- Net carbs: 13.4 g
- Fat: 1.9 g
It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and has been used as a food source for centuries.
By weight, this item contains 70% of proteins! This protein makes it highly digestible and a great option to consider, especially for fitness enthusiasts who strictly live on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Also, if you have allergies to other protein sources, consider adding spirulina to your diet.
Besides being high in proteins, this item also is loaded with minerals and vitamins, like B2, B1, B3 and iron, potassium and magnesium, all of which are necessary for our body. It’s also highly rich in antioxidant properties.
- Calories: 290 kcal
- Protein: 57 g
- Carbs: 24 g
- Fiber: 3.6 g
- Net carbs: 21.6 g
- Fat: 8 g
Soybeans are considered the top plant-based protein source and can provide a substantial amount of protein with fewer carbs compared to other legumes, as long as you can tolerate soy.
Besides being rich in protein, soybeans are also high in vitamin K, copper, iron, fiber, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, and phytonutrients like genistein.
Cooked whole soybeans are an excellent choice as they retain nearly all of their nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
When replacing high-carb beans in recipes, black soybeans can be used as a milder alternative to yellow ones.
The nutritional value of raw soybeans is given below:
- Calories: 446 kcal
- Protein: 36 g
- Carbs: 30 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Net carbs: 21 g
- Fat: 20 g
One of the most popular spreads, peanut butter needs no introduction. It’s delicious and nutritious. It is an unprocessed food. Peanut butter doesn’t contain anything except peanuts, sometimes roasted and ground until they turn into a paste.
Though a single serving of peanut butter provides a sufficient amount of protein, it lacks in methionine, one of the essential amino acids.
Therefore, people are recommended to combine peanut butter along with other sources of plant based protein to derive the benefits of all the nine amino acids.
- Calories: 588 kcal
- Protein: 25 g
- Carbs: 20 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Net carbs: 14 g
- Fat: 50 g
The next delicious and nutritious item to add to your food list is almonds.
They are high in protein and low in carbs, which makes them a perfect snack for people willing to consume less amounts of carbohydrates while giving their body sufficient protein to fuel it up.
Besides delivering high amounts of proteins, almonds are also rich in vitamin E, fiber, healthy fats, magnesium, etc. all of which are needed by the body.
Lastly, they are satisfying and help one to stay full for a long period.
- Calories: 576 kcal
- Protein: 21 g
- Carbs: 22 g
- Fiber: 12 g
- Net carbs:10 g
- Fat: 49 g
Pinto beans are a great source of plant-based protein. By incorporating pinto beans into a recipe, one can easily increase the protein content of the dish.
Vegetarians and vegans can benefit from the protein and iron found in pinto beans, making them a perfect dietary choice.
Despite their high protein content, pinto beans do not provide a complete protein, which means they do not contain all the essential amino acids required by the body that can only be obtained through food.
Therefore, if you are incorporating Pinto beans in your diet, you must ensure to include a variety of other plant-based foods, like whole grains, nuts, and seeds, to receive all the essential amino acids for your body to function properly.
Raw pinto beans have the following amounts of nutrition:
- Calories: 347 kcal
- Protein: 21 g
- Carbs: 63 g
- Fiber:16 g
- Net carbs: 47 g
- Fat: 1.2 g
Tempeh, a popular vegetarian protein source that is made from fermented soybeans, is another excellent vegetarian food for bodybuilding enthusiasts.
Tempeh is prepared by fermenting a special kind of mold along with cooked soybeans. It’s easily digestible. Tempeh is a good source of fiber, and other essential vitamins and minerals besides providing your body with sufficient proteins.
If you are wondering how to add tempeh to your diet, you can do it in innumerable ways.
For instance, one can cut it into slices and add it to salads, stir-fries, sandwiches, etc. It can be effectively used as a substitute for meat in tacos and sandwiches.
Tempeh can also be marinated and cooked. For instance, you can bake it or grill it for a sumptuous, nutritious meal, packed in high proteins.
A 100g serving of tempeh provides:
- Cal: 193 kcal
- Protein: 20.7 g
- Carbs: 9 g
- Fiber: 5.7 g
- Net carbs: 3.3 g
- Fat: 11 g
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Cashews are a variety of nut that boasts a delicate texture and a delightful sweet taste. Originating in South America, specifically Brazil, cashews were introduced to Africa and India by colonizers, and today these regions are the major cashew producers.
Cashews are sold in their roasted or raw form, as well as unsalted or salted.
Cashews are also being used as a base for dairy substitutes, like cashew based cheese, cashew milk and cashew-based cream sauces and sour cream.
These innovative products are becoming more popular among those who follow a plant-based diet or have lactose intolerance.
Give below are the nutrition facts of cashews:
- Calories: 553 kcal
- Protein: 18 g
- Carbs: 30 g
- Fiber: 3.3 g
- Net carbs: 26.7 g
- Fat: 44 g
Indigenous to China, Tofu is now widely consumed by people across the globe.
The process followed to make Tofu is quite similar to cheese making. Soy milk is first condensed and then pressed into solid white blocks.
Tofu contains all the essential amino acids, and is, therefore, a rich source of high-quality proteins, needed by our bodies for muscle growth.
Besides that, it is low in carbs. This means tofu can be a nutritious addition for people following a low-carb diet or those with diabetes.
- Calories: 144 kcal
- Protein: 17 g
- Carbs: 3 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Net carbs: 1 g
- Fat: 9 g
Chia seeds are tiny, oval shaped, flat black seeds with a smooth texture. They can be found in white, brown and black colors.
Native to Guatemala and Mexico, these wonderful seeds are versatile and can be consumed in numerous ways.
For instance, one can soak them and add them to porridge or make a pudding for breakfast. One can also add them to baked items or sprinkle on top of desserts or salads.
These seeds are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, besides delivering high amounts of protein and several antioxidants and minerals, all of which are essential to stay fit and healthy.
- Calories: 486 kcal
- Protein: 17 g
- Carbs: 42 g
- Fiber: 34 g
- Net carbs: 8 g
- Fat: 31 g
Oats are wonderfully healthy. Not only are they gluten-free, but also high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
Though an excellent choice for breakfast, oats can also be added to cookies, muffins, granola bars and various other baked items.
The best part is oats contain fair amounts of all essential amino acids, giving your body sufficient amount of protein it needs. Below listed are the nutrition facts of raw oats:
- Calories: 379 kcal
- Protein: 13.15 g
- Carbs: 67.7 g
- Fiber: 10.1 g
- Net carbs: 57.6 g
- Fats: 6.52 g
The next food high in protein and low in carbs is quinoa. It is a type of edible seed, available in various colors like yellow, black, white and red.
Indigenous to the Andean region of South America, especially Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia, Quinoa has been in cultivation for more than 5000 years.
This wonderful food is a source of complete proteins, meaning that all the essential amino acids are present in it. Not just that, quinoa is highly rich in folate, manganese, thiamin, magnesium, and phosphorus.
The nutrition facts of quinoa are given below:
- Calories: 364 kcal
- Protein: 11.4 g
- Carbs: 62.8 g
- Fiber: 4.5 g
- Net carbs: 58.3 g
- Fats: 5.68 g
The next high-protein low-carb vegan food is cottage cheese. It’s delicious and comes with several health benefits, allowing one to stay fit. Particularly, if you intend to incorporate vegetarian based foods that are low in carbs but deliver a good amount of protein to your body, you must consider including cottage cheese in your diet.
The best part about cottage cheese is that it’s a complete source of protein, meaning it provides you with all the essential amino acids that our bodies need for functioning, like repairing tissues or muscle building.
Hence, if you are aiming for muscle gain, this cottage cheese is a must-try.
Cottage cheese is in fact a popular option for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, helping them meet their fitness goals.
- Calories: 98 kcal
- Protein: 11 g
- Carbs: 3.4 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Net carbs: 3.4 g
- Fat:4.3 g
Popularly known as the new quinoa, this gluten-free, whole grain is a staple in India.
It is also known as sorghum. It provides 11 grams of protein in just one serving of 100 grams, giving your body enough energy.
Jowar is also rich in magnesium, helping the body to maintain optimum levels of calcium. Besides, this grain has high amounts of macronutrients like vitamin B, potassium, and phosphorus and micronutrients like copper, zinc, etc.
Given below are the nutrition facts of jowar(sorghum):
- Calories: 329 kcal
- Protein: 10.6 g
- Carbs: 72.1 g
- Fiber: 6.7 g
- Net carbs:
- Fat: 3.46 g
Lentils have been a favorite among vegans and vegetarians because of their high protein content. Furthermore, they are low in carbs, making them an ideal food for those who follow a low-carb diet.
Of all the varieties of lentils, beluga lentils, also known as black lentils contain the highest amount of protein.
They have a slightly nutty flavor and a firm texture, which makes them a great addition to salads and soups.
Black lentils are also rich in folate, iron and fiber, which further increases their nutritional value.
The nutritional value of boiled lentils is given below:
- Cal:116 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Carbs: 20 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Net carbs: 12 g
- Fat: 0.4 g
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The Bottom Line
The high protein and low carb food list mentioned above can be a great starting point for those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
However, it must be noted that not everyone’s dietary needs are the same. Each individual demands a different kind of nutrition and therefore it’s essential to consult a dietician to cater to their requirements in a better way.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that changes to one’s diet take time to show results, so it’s important to be patient and consistent in making healthier food choices.