Fatigue. Am I doing something wrong? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-19-2015, 03:56 AM
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Fatigue. Am I doing something wrong?

I have been fully vegetarian now for about 6 weeks. Prior to this i only ate chicken and tuna a couple of times a week. I cut out all chicken and lowered my dairy intake recently and in the last 2 weeks I am exhausted. Every day I feel really tired and a lack of energy.

I suffer from anxiety and tiredness often brings my anxiety to the surface so it's not good for my condition.

Is fatigue normal in the early weeks as a vegetarian/vegan? I have also become very spotty.

I am eating enough calories, well I think I am. I am 5ft tall and 113lbs. I eat around 1600 calories a day to maintain my weight. I do yoga and some cardio most days. I ate 1600 prior to being veggie so have tried to keep it that way. I am eating way more carbs than I'd like being vegetarian but so far haven't gained any weight. I am eating more carbs to get my protein. My carbs can be 200g most days which is high for me and usually causes weight gain. My protein is at 60g on a good day. Fat is around 50g.

This week I have made sure I eat eggs and some dairy to see if it helped with the tiredness but it didn't.

Typical day is
Breakfast - Oats, chia seeds, flaxseeds and berries for breakfast.
Lunch - avocado on wholemeal toast/veggie sausages with a bagel and veggies...
Dinner - Pasta with veggies/Veg chilli and brown rice/Veg curry with naan/Veggie burger on a bun with sweet potato fries and salad/...
Snacks - yoghurt with berries/banana/nakd bar/crackers...

I am finding eating vegetarian difficult with this exhaustion. Am I doing something wrong?

Thank you

Ju
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#2 Old 06-19-2015, 04:15 AM
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I'm sorry you're feeling tired, it's a horrible feeling.

There's a few things in your post that stood out to me, so I'll try and address them and maybe that will help you.

Carbs- These are not a bad thing. Learn to love carbs. They are actually the source of energy your body needs to do the things it loves to do. It looks like the carbs you're eating are leaning towards the unrefined version, which is pretty great! If you keep doing that, I doubt you'll have too many troubles.

Calories- I have no idea what the right amount is. I just eat stuff and that seems to work for me. BUT....I do know that a lot of people need to eat more on a vegetarian diet, especially if they're leading an active lifestyle. I consider this a perk because eating is awesome.

Your diet- Looks really good, if I'm honest. You haven't given measurements, so I can't be sure whether you're getting 'enough' of that stuff. But it all sounds lovely. I wish I was that good with my diet. The only thing I would add, and this is just something I do, is maybe look at adding kale/spinach or even something like hummus to your meals. I just find it helps me keep my Iron levels in check. As does, apparently, cooling with an iron skillet!

Make sure you're drinking enough water. That was the biggest surprise I had after going veg, I needed to drink more water and basically keep my fluids up.

I think I've recommended this book in every post recently, ha ha, but "Becoming Vegetarian" was a great help to me when it came to nutritional stuff.

The others will no doubt have much better advice than I have for you, but hope that helps until someone more knowledgeable answers
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#3 Old 06-19-2015, 04:20 AM
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Tiger Lilly

Thank you so much for your help.

My weights are usually 70g pasta, 70g rice (uncooked for both). 50g red peppers, 100g broccoli.... Hope that explains that a little better.

Great advice that I shall take on board. Thank you. My husband said why not go back to eating chicken but I really don't feel comfortable. I also worry about eating too much veggie alternatives like Quorn and veggie sausages because of the sodium content.

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#4 Old 06-19-2015, 04:23 AM
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There's nothing about a vegetarian diet that should cause fatigue, especially considering that you barely ate meat to begin with. Can you be certain there's no underlying cause? Have you been sleeping well, working too hard? Could you be coming down with a bug?

I don't count calories, so I'm not sure how much a person needs to eat. Do you feel hungry? Does your energy increase after meals? Maybe try eating more, or more often. I know I feel unwell if I go more than a couple of hours without a snack.

Fatigue can be a symptom of a great many conditions. If you don't see an improvement, I'd suggest seeing your doctor.
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#5 Old 06-19-2015, 04:54 AM
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I would say you're not eating enough calories. 1600 sounds like it's barely enough for someone your size if you were inactive. But seeing as how you exercise I think raising it around 2000 would be best. A lot of people switching to plant based living just wind up tired from not eating enough. And carbs are your best friend :P . Keep the carbs high and the fat a little low. See if that helps.
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#6 Old 06-19-2015, 05:28 AM
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Thank you both for your help.

I do suffer with low iron, I am due a blood test soon to assess my levels, it could just be my ferritin has dipped again.

Yes maybe I need to up the calories. I am just afraid of gaining weight. I lost 10lbs recently (my anxiety meds make me gain weight) and I don't want to gain it back, so carbs scare me lol!! I am 113lbs now and happy.


I really am useless with meals though. I have looked at the eatwell plate and veggie pyramid and I can't imagine eating up to 11 portions of grains/carbs a day! I would balloon. I get very stressed about what should be on my plate every day to try and avoid using veggie meats too much. I am not very good at knowing what I and my children should be eating as a veggie. I have bought some books but I will try that book recommended maybe that will help.

Thanks.

Ju
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#7 Old 06-19-2015, 05:30 AM
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No eating doesn't seem to help to be honest, so maybe it is just my ferritin levels are a little low again.

I also have some stress in my life at the moment so it could be that making me tired. I am quite hungry too I have noticed but I am rubbish at knowing what is best to eat as a veggie without filling up on too many carbs.

Thanks for your help.

Ju
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Originally Posted by no whey jose View Post
There's nothing about a vegetarian diet that should cause fatigue, especially considering that you barely ate meat to begin with. Can you be certain there's no underlying cause? Have you been sleeping well, working too hard? Could you be coming down with a bug?

I don't count calories, so I'm not sure how much a person needs to eat. Do you feel hungry? Does your energy increase after meals? Maybe try eating more, or more often. I know I feel unwell if I go more than a couple of hours without a snack.

Fatigue can be a symptom of a great many conditions. If you don't see an improvement, I'd suggest seeing your doctor.
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#8 Old 06-19-2015, 07:02 AM
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Have you tried eating more fresh fruits and veg? Fruit especially? Stop counting carbs or protein or fat ect... and focus on how you feel after a meal instead. We ALL have different biochemistry, and all thrive on different levels of those things (though the poor carbs have been absolutely demonized, as have healthy fats). The food you consume should make you feel energized and re-fueled, not tired. If it does, you aren't eating the right foods for your body and need to try something different. I was a veg for 16 years (before my current raw vegan diet) and I was always feeling tired and draggy. I ate very little fresh foods and lots of cooked and processed foods. Lots of brown, tan, yellowish foods (kind of like what your eating now). They may be better compared to SAD foods, but they are still of relatively low nutritional value and low energy. When I started eating more fresh (especially fresh fruit) my energy levels went up dramatically! And not a 'sugar high' where I crash, but overall higher energy levels. One of the *best* pieces of advice I ever got was to "eat a rainbow every day". Brightly colored foods (naturally colored, of course) should be the bulk of your diet, not brown and tan foods. I might suggest you replace one meal a day with a (large) fresh fruit smoothie OR fresh fruit salad (vary the types of fruits you use), add a large glass of freshly juiced greens/veg in as a snack or with a meal, and if your budget allows, start each morning with a fresh glass of citrus juice with your breakfast (not the pasteurized stuff from the store). See if in a few weeks of eating more fresh foods, especially more fruit, if your energy levels don't improve. I bet they will!
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#9 Old 06-19-2015, 08:09 AM
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Pregnancy test?':hides:
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#10 Old 06-19-2015, 09:55 AM
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Pregnancy test?':hides:
That'll do it, all right!
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#11 Old 06-19-2015, 12:48 PM
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Brilliant. Thank you.

What are SAD foods?

Great advice and yes I think i need to eat more fresh fruit. I am not a fruit person really but I like bananas and berries so I will give that a try. I have berries with my breakfast and in yoghurt so I will try a smoothie with some kale/spinach each day too.

Thanks

Ju

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Originally Posted by Kiwibird08 View Post
Have you tried eating more fresh fruits and veg? Fruit especially? Stop counting carbs or protein or fat ect... and focus on how you feel after a meal instead. We ALL have different biochemistry, and all thrive on different levels of those things (though the poor carbs have been absolutely demonized, as have healthy fats). The food you consume should make you feel energized and re-fueled, not tired. If it does, you aren't eating the right foods for your body and need to try something different. I was a veg for 16 years (before my current raw vegan diet) and I was always feeling tired and draggy. I ate very little fresh foods and lots of cooked and processed foods. Lots of brown, tan, yellowish foods (kind of like what your eating now). They may be better compared to SAD foods, but they are still of relatively low nutritional value and low energy. When I started eating more fresh (especially fresh fruit) my energy levels went up dramatically! And not a 'sugar high' where I crash, but overall higher energy levels. One of the *best* pieces of advice I ever got was to "eat a rainbow every day". Brightly colored foods (naturally colored, of course) should be the bulk of your diet, not brown and tan foods. I might suggest you replace one meal a day with a (large) fresh fruit smoothie OR fresh fruit salad (vary the types of fruits you use), add a large glass of freshly juiced greens/veg in as a snack or with a meal, and if your budget allows, start each morning with a fresh glass of citrus juice with your breakfast (not the pasteurized stuff from the store). See if in a few weeks of eating more fresh foods, especially more fruit, if your energy levels don't improve. I bet they will!
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#12 Old 06-19-2015, 12:54 PM
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Haha! No definitely not pregnant. 3 were enough for me ;-)
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#13 Old 06-19-2015, 01:35 PM
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SAD= Standard American Diet.

I.E. lots of meat, dairy products (likely chock full of antibiotics, hormones and stress chemicals from the animal pre-death) and heavily processed fast food and "non-foods" that come out of cans, boxes and bags with low to no nutritional value (but do have lots of refined grains, possibly GMO, refined sugars and chemicals!). Not really a very good way to eat, but very few people think about it since these products are sold in store, sometimes deceptively labeled and packaged as "healthy".
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#14 Old 06-19-2015, 02:37 PM
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From your numbers, it appears that at an absolute bare minimum your getting 35% of your calories from fat, usually more.
There isnt a legitimate medical organization on earth that says that much fat is good for you. Nearly all would say a reduction would be advisable (and with a fat consumption in clear excess, then yes, any excess calories from any source would prompt your body to store away some of that excess fat).
If you try increasing calories, perhaps do so by adding very rich carbs sources. Then at least a lower percentage of your diet would be fat.
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#15 Old 06-19-2015, 03:08 PM
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From your numbers, it appears that at an absolute bare minimum your getting 35% of your calories from fat, usually more.
Her food choices don't look too high in fat to me. Looking at the numbers provided ... if she's eating 1600 calories and 50g of fat, that's only 28% of calories from fat. The number percentages don't exactly add up based on the info provided though, but I'm guessing that's due to estimating for the sake of a simpler post.


My guess is that you need more calories in general. 1600 calories is not much for a grown woman, neither is 200g of carbohydrates. I personally get super exhausted, rather than have hunger pangs, when I haven't eaten enough. Are the spots you mentioned your skin or are you seeing spots? If it's your skin, it could also be stress or hormone changes. If it's vision related, I'd once again guess you need more food and perhaps water too.

Best of luck!
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#16 Old 06-19-2015, 03:49 PM
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"My carbs can be 200g most days which is high for me"
I read that as a maximum of 200, with error on the low side
"My protein is at 60g on a good day"
I read that as maximum of 60, with error on the low side
1600 - (260x4) = 560
560/1600 = 0.35
Therefore a minimum of 35%
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#17 Old 06-19-2015, 04:26 PM
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I wouldn't worry so much about carbs. Focus on whole grains and fresh fruits. Carbs keep your body running, many of your body's organs function only on carbs. When you aren't consuming them they have to do a lot of work to convert proteins into carbs, which is a major stressor on your body.

1600 calories sounds very low. We are about the same height and when I took a nutrition course at college 2 years ago we had to analyze our diet. I was meant to be consuming about 1700 calories per day and I am less active than you. That being said I'm not sure if you are older or younger than me and metabolism does slow down as we age so our calorie needs won't be identical but I'd shoot for at 1700 calories for a while to see how that affects you.
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#18 Old 06-19-2015, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auxin View Post
"My carbs can be 200g most days which is high for me"
I read that as a maximum of 200, with error on the low side
"My protein is at 60g on a good day"
I read that as maximum of 60, with error on the low side
1600 - (260x4) = 560
560/1600 = 0.35
Therefore a minimum of 35%
I understand the math (I looked at that option as well), but looking at her food choices I don't believe her fat intake is "too high". I mentioned I thought there was likely some estimating going on since 50g fat + 200g carb + 60g protein does not add up to 1600 calories (1490 I believe, but if she's getting at least 50g fat she'd get to a higher numbers). Overall, I really think the issue is lack of calories which is why I oppose the language including "too much" of anything regarding this particular post. I'd guess if her total fat percent is "too high", it would be due to an overall too low calorie intake. Adding fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, etc. would both add to the calorie total and lower the fat percentage, although I'm not all that fussed with exact percentages as long as someone is getting adequate nutrition overall. Maybe this is similar to what your saying, just with some different word choices.
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#19 Old 06-19-2015, 07:37 PM
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Carbs are mostly burned as energy. As Dr McDougall says though the fat you eat is the fat you wear :P . If you worry about iron try eating lots of legumes and whole grains. And to get the best iron absorbtion eat things high in vitamin c with it. Like I use sweet peppers in Mexican dishes with black beans, or broccoli in soups with lentils.
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#20 Old 06-19-2015, 08:25 PM
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SIREN SIREN SIREN

Not enough calories!!!!!!!!!

1600 calories might be ok for a sedentary person, but its way too few for someone who does daily cardio.

Here is a website that will calculate how many calories are burned by different types of exercise: http://exercise.about.com/cs/fitness...alorieburn.htm . According to this website, a 115-pound woman burns over 300 calories per hour of aerobics. You need calories!! 1600 calories per day is not nearly enough for you!!


Although low-carb rhetoric abounds on the internet, low-carb diets are not recommended by any mainstream nutrition organization. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the world's largest association of Registered Dietitians) recommends that even low-intensity cardio athletes get 2.3 to 3.2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. They also recommend that even smaller, light-intensity cardio athletes get at least 2000 calories per day: http://www.eatright.org/resource/fit...-for-endurance

I'm sorry for being so alarmist, but not eating enough calories is one of the biggest mistakes that we vegetarians make. It is so common that several videos have been published on the topic. Here is a humorous one that makes a serious point:
(this video is directed towards raw vegans, but the same lesson applies to whole food vegetarians)

If you are anxious and uncertain, please see a Registered Dietitian. This will remove nutritional guesswork.

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Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
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Last edited by David3; 06-20-2015 at 12:25 AM.
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#21 Old 06-20-2015, 02:23 AM
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All of the above or your mental disorder is affecting your energy levels. I suffer from anxiety as well and I know that stress exhausts me, which in turn makes me cranky and even more anxious. It's common to go through random bouts of fatigue when you have anxiety issues, just sayin'. Along with getting appropriate amounts of iron, calories, etc...it would be a good idea to consult your doctor and let them know.

Sometimes we just feel wonky. It's not always related to diet. Shoot, you could even be fighting off a little bug that's tiring your body out, but kept in check enough to not cause any of the other noticeable symptoms we are used to seeing with common illness.
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#22 Old 06-20-2015, 03:56 AM
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Thank you both for your help.

I do suffer with low iron, I am due a blood test soon to assess my levels, it could just be my ferritin has dipped again.

Yes maybe I need to up the calories. I am just afraid of gaining weight. I lost 10lbs recently (my anxiety meds make me gain weight) and I don't want to gain it back, so carbs scare me lol!! I am 113lbs now and happy.


I really am useless with meals though. I have looked at the eatwell plate and veggie pyramid and I can't imagine eating up to 11 portions of grains/carbs a day! I would balloon. I get very stressed about what should be on my plate every day to try and avoid using veggie meats too much. I am not very good at knowing what I and my children should be eating as a veggie. I have bought some books but I will try that book recommended maybe that will help.

Thanks.

Ju
If you struggle with low iron issues you may want to focus on increasing iron intake and absorption as a vegetarian. Eggs and dairy do not provide much iron but the meat you ate probably provided some. Vegetarian sources of iron would be lots of dried beans, leafy green veggies (I would recommend several servings a day), black strap molasses (excellent in homemade sauces, baked beans/bbq, in hot cereal, baked breads etc), some nuts/seeds. To increase iron absorption, include a food high in vitamin C with an iron rich plant food. Some examples are strawberries, bell peppers, oranges/juice, mangoes. As well, limit dairy, coffee etc during the times when you eat high iron sources of food as dairy/calcium and coffee/caffeine can interfere with iron absorption. Beans are also an excellent source of protein and extremely versatile to work with. I use them to make homemade soups, dips for sandwiches and veggies, as a binder in baking, for homemade veggie/bean burgers, in stir fries, over toast for breakfast, in homemade energy/protein bars, in casseroles etc. The leafy greens are also high in calcium and other important minerals and will help with energy.

A few years ago I did some vegan tabling at a local college and a young woman with anemia told me she struggled to stay vegetarian for this reason. I gave her the same advice as she was not including many of the foods I mentioned in her diet and didn't know about the vitamin C trick to increase absorption.

I forgot to mention, though I think someone above already did, that cooking in a cast iron skillet also helps increase iron.
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#23 Old 06-20-2015, 09:13 AM
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I have looked at the eatwell plate and veggie pyramid and I can't imagine eating up to 11 portions of grains/carbs a day! I would balloon.
Ju
Hi Jue,

Please look again at Mercy For Animal's vegetarian guide, page 7:
http://www.mercyforanimals.org/vsg.pdf
. It recommends 5 or more servings of grains/starchy vegetables per day. Please remember that a serving is not the same thing as a portion. Look at the guide. One serving of grains/starches is only 1/2 cup of cooked rice, or one slice of bread. Even 11 servings of rice would only be 5-1/2 cups, which is only about 1200 calories. 11 servings of bread would be 11 slices of bread, which is only about 1000 calories. This is not a lot of calories! You should be eating 2000+ calories per day (see my earlier post in this thread). Please remember that whole grains and beans are the calorie-foundation of a healthy vegan diet.

I do not recommend that you use the Vegetarian Diet Pyramid. The Mercy For Animals "dinner plate" guide is much easier to use. I have complained to VeggieBoards about the Diet Pyramid.

Again, I strongly recommend that you see a Registered Dietitian. Also, please consider an appointment with your therapist. Your calorie-restriction, together with high-intensity exercise, are an unhealthy combination.
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Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
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http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/
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#24 Old 06-20-2015, 10:12 AM
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Thank you Auxin

I track my calories and I only hit about 50g a fat a day on a good day. Too little fat is proven to be bad for you, it can cause alot of problems. I only eat good fats too, I get my fat from avocados and lower fat dairy products that currently I am still eating.

I don't think I am eating too much fat really, I have eaten low card and high protein, moderate fat before and lost alot of weight so higher fat has always worked well for me as long as it's from good sources.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auxin View Post
From your numbers, it appears that at an absolute bare minimum your getting 35% of your calories from fat, usually more.
There isnt a legitimate medical organization on earth that says that much fat is good for you. Nearly all would say a reduction would be advisable (and with a fat consumption in clear excess, then yes, any excess calories from any source would prompt your body to store away some of that excess fat).
If you try increasing calories, perhaps do so by adding very rich carbs sources. Then at least a lower percentage of your diet would be fat.
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#25 Old 06-20-2015, 10:15 AM
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Hi David

I shall take a look at that again and try to work my meals around that. Thank you for the information.

Why would I need to see my therapist? I don't have a therapist? I don't calorie restrict due to any kind of eating disorder. I workout and when you weight train you usually have macros to hit each day and it's not uncommon for people to have a calorie goal and macro plan. I don't think that is an issue here, I just want to make sure my eating isn't going to affect my hard work with my training, if that makes sense.

Thank you.

Ju
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#26 Old 06-20-2015, 10:22 AM
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Thank you all.

I shall use that calorie tracker, thanks David.

Yes I think it's the stress i have been under recently that's made me feel tired as there has been alot going on with my daughter away with school on a trip and my son not being well with his tendinitis. It's been a hectic couple of months to be honest. I also think yes with the hiit and weigh training I do 1600 as a vegetarian really isn't enough. I shall be tweeking that for sure. I am only 5ft tall so always thought that was enough but I think that is also why I am so tired.

I think my fat levels are ok as I only get them from good sources. I just need to up that protein a little and increase the carbs I think. I shouldn't be afraid of carbs, which we are made to at times in the media and when working out. I am only 113lbs after all.

Thanks again, it's helped to work out what probably is the cause of the fatigue.

Ju
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#27 Old 06-20-2015, 11:13 AM
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Hi Jue,


I'm sorry if I ever come across as rude. I get very worried when I read posts about wonderful people, of normal weight, who are combining low calories with high exercise - it just isn't sustainable. On other vegetarian forums, I've seen so many other good people do the same thing, and they end up with fatigue, loss of their menstrual period, and even (temporary) hair loss. We vegetarians must not be afraid of calories or carbohydrates; our beans, grains, and potatoes are so low in calories that we must remember to eat plenty!!


Yes, please check out the "exercise calories burned" website that I listed earlier in this thread.


I didn't mean to be presumptuous about your having a therapist. Because you mentioned that you take anxiety medication (a psychiatric medication), I assumed that you were doing so under the advice and guidance of a psychiatric therapist. This is probably the best way to take this medication, since regular doctors are not really specialized in these things. I have taken depression medication in the past.
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_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/
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#28 Old 06-20-2015, 01:19 PM
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Hi David

No I didn't think you were being rude. I just wanted to say I don't have any kind of eating disorder and I don't have a therapist, but I understand why you may have thought I do.

I am on medication for my anxiety but here in the UK GP's prescribe them, you only see a psychiatrist if things are pretty bad, and you have some kind of serious mental health illness. I have anxiety, always have really. I saw someone private for a while as the care here in the UK from the NHS is pretty poor. I had some CBT and it worked well. I stay on the medication because I am too scared to withdraw as I heard it's pretty bad, I have been on it 2 years now but hope to wean off after Christmas.

I shall read the links you provided, thank you so much. It is just so hard to get my head round eating all these carbs when I have had to lower them on a meat eating diet to lose weight alongside my training. I know at 113lbs I should not be trying to lose weight now, I was just concerned i would balloon once my body had all these carbs going in. lol!

Thanks again.

Ju
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#29 Old 06-20-2015, 03:25 PM
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I certainly recommend you get a broad spectrum of bloodwork to check not only iron, but vitamin D and B12 levels. I had always assumed D was included with typical bloodwork, till I asked about mine and found I had never been checked. I came out very low. Taking high amounts D every day greatly improved my mental clarity and foot pain.

It's certainly good to have a baseline so if things happen in the future you'll be able to see where your diet may have faults-and to show others it wasn't your diet!
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#30 Old 06-23-2015, 06:55 AM
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Thank you Silva I will ask my GP to include them, thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silva View Post
I certainly recommend you get a broad spectrum of bloodwork to check not only iron, but vitamin D and B12 levels. I had always assumed D was included with typical bloodwork, till I asked about mine and found I had never been checked. I came out very low. Taking high amounts D every day greatly improved my mental clarity and foot pain.

It's certainly good to have a baseline so if things happen in the future you'll be able to see where your diet may have faults-and to show others it wasn't your diet!
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