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Wanting to go low carb but don't eat meat? What should you do? Here are some low carb high protein foods that are also non-meat.
The Best Non-Meat, Low Carb High Protein Foods
If you are, indeed a vegetarian who is interested in low carb protein sources that are non-meat then don't worry.
Reaping the health benefits of a low carb lifestyle is possible.
There are tons of things you can fill your diet with besides meat and still get plenty of protein!
*Keep in mind that some of these foods contain gluten, soy, dairy, or legumes so if you are sensitive or on a keto plan, you may wish to skip some of these items and move onto the next ones.
Likewise, you may skip over the dairy depending upon what type of vegetarian you are.
For example, a lacto-ovovegetarian does not eat meat, but does eat dairy products and eggs.
Low Carb Diet Studies-Why go Low Carb?
In the past few years, various studies have shown that low carb diets can be really helpful in losing weight .
Moreover, low carb diets reduce harmful belly fat and triglycerides and help in raising HDL cholesterol significantly.
Remember that HDL cholesterol is “good cholesterol.”
There is a common concern about non-meat or vegetarian diets though.
You see, when not done properly, they may not provide sufficient protein.
It's okay though! Because the experts believe that if the non-meat diet is well-planned, you can get still get all the nutrients you need!
Low Carb and High Protein Foods List
Given that conventional low carb diets rely a lot on the use of meat, losing weight can become really difficult for a vegetarian.
So, here are a few foods that are both low carb and yet are still good protein sources (not in any special order):
1.) Hemp Seeds-Keto Friendly
Hemp seeds not only contain 5.68g protein per 100 kcal but also have all essential amino acids. Moreover, they contain omega-3, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium.
There are also only about 2 g of carbs in these healthy seeds.
Hemp seeds are definitely recommended because an ounce (28 grams) of hempseed contains 50% more protein than flaxseeds or chia seeds .
Overall, hempseeds contain highly-digestible protein and essential fatty acids.
You can easily bake with these and also add them to top your salads or blend them in your favorite smoothie.
2.) Pumpkin Seeds-Keto Friendly
Save your pumpkin seeds and roast them up because these are one of the most amazing low carb high protein foods you can ask for.
A half cup serving of these offers a great source of the critical mineral magnesium, healthy fats, and antioxidant.
A whopping 20 grams of protein with only 6 net carbs makes them a perfect snack!
3.) Vegetables: Spinach, Watercress, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts-Keto Friendly
We all know that vegetables like these are great low carb choices. They are all low in calories but high in important nutrition.
These three are super good for you but they also have some valuable protein. A cup serving of these nutritional power houses contain anywhere from 1 to 3 grams of protein.
Since the recommendation is about 5 cups or more of vegetables per day you can see how including these in your low carb diet helps boost that daily protein intake!
4.) Cheese-Keto Friendly
Cheese is another one of those foods that people on a keto diet can eat.
Most cheeses have about 1 or 2 grams of carbs in them.
Did you know that an ounce of most cheeses has from 6-10 grams of protein in it?
That's what makes it a great item for us to include in our low carb high protein foods list.
For more detailed info on which cheeses are highest in protein check out this post by the Men's Journal.
Check out this handy breakdown of carbs in different cheese in this post by thelittlepine.com.
5.) Plain Greek Yogurt-Keto Friendly
Greek yogurt is yet another great low carb high protein foods source.
When it is not sweetened with sugar, it is also fine for those on a keto diet.
Well, so long as you are not dairy sensitive.
This tasty and creamy treat is a great calcium source and also has probiotics which helps gut and immune health.
A five ounce serving of Greek yogurt unflavored, gives us about 5 grams of carbs with a whopping 11 grams of protein.
6.) Eggs-Keto Friendly
Eggs are low in calories but high in nutrition. They give us about 6 grams of protein per egg with only about 1 g of carbs.
And not only are eggs healthy, there is so much we can do with them when cooking!
For example, you can make recipes like our gluten and dairy free quiche.
7.) Seitan (aka wheat meat) *Contains Gluten- Keto Friendly
Here is a food that resembles the looks and texture of meat but is made from the main protein found in wheat, gluten.
It is a nutritious food that is low in carbs and fat and high in protein.
Every 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of seitan contains 25 grams of protein.
It is also a good source of selenium (an essential mineral for the proper functioning of the body) along with small amounts of phosphorus, calcium, and iron.
The best thing about seitan is that it can be used in different recipes.
It can be sautéed, pan-fried or grilled.
So, if you are looking for one of the best plant-based protein choices, you should go with seitan.
A one third cup serving has 3 grams of net carbs.
**The rest of this list is not keto friendly, but it is healthy and can fit into a low carb diet in moderation**
8.) Chickpeas/Beans (Not Keto)
Chickpeas are legumes that have high protein content.
In fact, there are a variety of beans such as black, kidney, and pinto that are also rich in protein per serving.
A cooked, 1/2 cup of chickpeas contains approximately 8 grams of protein and about 15 net grams of carbs.
*This may be a little high for those on a keto diet but it works for low carb,
providing you don't over-do it and keep your daily carb limits in check.
They are also great sources of iron, potassium, fiber, manganese, complex carbs, and other healthy plant compounds.
Various studies have suggested that diets which contain beans and legumes can help in reducing cholesterol, belly fat, and in lowering blood pressure .
9.) Green Peas (Not Keto)
Even though green peas are served as a side dish, they are high in protein, minerals, and vitamins.
A cooked cup (240 ml) of green peas contain 9 grams of protein.
The main reason why you may want to consume some green peas is that they cover over 25% of your daily need for vitamin A, C, K, manganese, fiber etc.
In addition to all this, green peas are a great source of zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and other B vitamins.
There are 7 net carbs per half cup of green peas.
10.) Tofu, Edamame, and Tempeh (Not Keto)
All three of these low carb high protein foods originate from soybeans.
Edamame are just immature soybeans that are boiled or steamed before consumption.
Soy often gets a bad rap. I think this is due to the high probability that the soy you find in the grocery stores is genetically modified.
It has a sweet and a bit grassy taste and can be added to salads and soups or on its own.
It is rich in vitamin K, folate, and fiber.
Bean curds are pressed together to make tofu, a process similar to cheese making.
Tofu is not only a great source of protein, copper, magnesium, and vitamin B1 but also contains all 9 essential amino acids.
For tempeh, mature soybeans are cooked and slightly fermented before being pressed into a patty.
It is rich in B vitamins, probiotics, and other minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium.
You can use tempeh for a variety of dishes that range from soups to burgers.
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of tofu, edamame, and tempeh contains about 10-19 grams of protein along with calcium and iron.
Needless to say, if you are looking for great sources of non-meat protein, these should be on your list of ‘must-eat’ items.
Edamame has 5 net carbs for a half cup.
11.) Soybeans (Not Keto)
If you are looking for the best plant-based protein source, soybean is the one that can be really helpful in getting enough protein.
Soybeans are part of the legume family and widely considered a whole source of protein.
What makes soybeans so effective is that they have all essential amino acids that your body needs.
And the best thing about soybeans is that they do not have as much carbohydrates as other legumes and beans.
Soybeans are not only high in protein but are a great source of fiber, iron, copper, manganese, vitamin K, and riboflavin.
In a nutshell, make sure soybeans are in your diet plan if you want to increase your protein intake without consuming meat.
A half cup of raw green soybeans contains about 9 grams of net carbs.
12.) Pistachios (Not Keto)
Even though pistachios don't usually make it onto the keto approved list for nuts, they can't be forgotten,
These nuts are high in antioxidants, have vitamin B6, and minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium.
A one quarter cup of these nuts provides 6 grams of protein and only 3 net carbs.
I'd say these are worth consideration for inclusion in your low carb eating plan.
The Bottom Line-Low Carb High Protein Foods
If you are on a low carb diet and not consuming meat, it is important for you to avoid protein deficiency.
The best way to do this is to increase your plant protein intake.
Make sure you avoid consumption of carbs in processed protein foods.
Overall, these were some of the best high-protein low carb foods that are safe for lacto-ovovegetarians and non-meat.
Needless to say, it is recommended to consult your nutritionist before starting any diet.
And if you can eat fish, you'll want to try our low carb shrimp and grits recipe which is also packed with protein.