Transitioning to Vegan, Experiencing very low energy please help - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-08-2016, 01:31 PM
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Transitioning to Vegan, Experiencing very low energy please help

So I've been vegetarian for two years now and I've been transitioning to veganism in the past month. It's been a slow process for me; I initially was only eating vegan meals for supper, then I started having vegan smoothies for breakfast too, and the past week I've mostly been eating a full vegan diet with a few slip ups. In terms of digestion, I've been feeling great, I don't feel like food is sitting in my gut anymore. But I've been so tired, I sleep ten hours every night and find myself needing to take a two hour nap every day. I'm unemployed, pretty inactive (I go on long walks every day but no intensive exercise), so I don't understand why I am so tired. I smoke cannabis a few times a week for medical purposes, so I thought this might be contributing to my fatigue, but I never experienced fatigue from cannabis the day after when I was eating animal products. I've been eating a lot of unprocessed foods, such as fresh fruit, quinoa, and vegetables. I don't eat a lot of processed foods; I don't eat vegan cheese, I mostly just cook all my own meals. I've been drinking a couple glasses of fortified almond milk, and have been taking a multivitamin, so I feel like I should be getting all my nutrients. I drink a couple cups of green tea every day between meals, but it doesn't help me feel energized. I've just been so tired, and I'm constantly hungry, it seems like it's very hard to be getting enough food.

Any advice? Is it possible that it's just because I'm transitioning and need time for my body to adjust? I know I wrote a lot, I just wanted to give a good picture of what my diet and lifestyle looks like right now, to help distinguish whether or not its solely veganism that's making me so tired. I'm a 20 year old female by the way.
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#2 Old 06-08-2016, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by lisakat View Post
So I've been vegetarian for two years now and I've been transitioning to veganism in the past month. It's been a slow process for me; I initially was only eating vegan meals for supper, then I started having vegan smoothies for breakfast too, and the past week I've mostly been eating a full vegan diet with a few slip ups. In terms of digestion, I've been feeling great, I don't feel like food is sitting in my gut anymore. But I've been so tired, I sleep ten hours every night and find myself needing to take a two hour nap every day. I'm unemployed, pretty inactive (I go on long walks every day but no intensive exercise), so I don't understand why I am so tired. I smoke cannabis a few times a week for medical purposes, so I thought this might be contributing to my fatigue, but I never experienced fatigue from cannabis the day after when I was eating animal products. I've been eating a lot of unprocessed foods, such as fresh fruit, quinoa, and vegetables. I don't eat a lot of processed foods; I don't eat vegan cheese, I mostly just cook all my own meals. I've been drinking a couple glasses of fortified almond milk, and have been taking a multivitamin, so I feel like I should be getting all my nutrients. I drink a couple cups of green tea every day between meals, but it doesn't help me feel energized. I've just been so tired, and I'm constantly hungry, it seems like it's very hard to be getting enough food.

Any advice? Is it possible that it's just because I'm transitioning and need time for my body to adjust? I know I wrote a lot, I just wanted to give a good picture of what my diet and lifestyle looks like right now, to help distinguish whether or not its solely veganism that's making me so tired. I'm a 20 year old female by the way.

Welcome lisakat!

At least once a month on VeggieBoards, we hear from someone asking this exact same question.

As with any chronic physical problem, it's good to have your doctor rule out any medical conditions.

Because vitamin and mineral deficiencies take a while to develop, the most likely reason for your hunger is simple lack of calories. Not eating enough calories is one of the most common mistakes made by new vegans. This mistake is very easy to make, because vegan staple foods (legumes, whole grains, fruit, vegetables) are low in calories, compared to high-fat dairy products (cheese, ice cream). On a low-fat vegan diet, it's possible to eat until you're full, yet still not get enough calories.

Here's how to fix it.

First, use a calorie-requirements calculator to estimate your calorie needs: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-li...r/itt-20084939

Next, just remember this calorie rule-of-thumb:

One cup of cooked beans/legumes contains about 230 calories

One cup of cooked grains/pasta contains about 190 calories

One cup of fresh (not dried) fruit contains 40-100 calories

One cup of non-starchy vegetables contains 5-40 calories

One cup of nuts or seeds contains 650-1000 calories


For example, I need to eat about 2500 calories per day to maintain my weight. Can you see how much beans, grains etc. I have to eat to do this? I have to stuff myself! Including nuts, nut butters, and/or seeds in your diet is an easy way to make sure you're getting enough calories.


Here is a very good Vegetarian (actually vegan) Starter Guide. It summarizes vegan nutrition on page 13: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/files/VSG.pdf
.

_________

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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#3 Old 06-08-2016, 02:14 PM
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Great information, I quickly calculated that I'm not nearly eating as many calories as I thought! Hopefully I can figure out how to make some high-calorie meals and snacks to help.
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#4 Old 06-08-2016, 02:42 PM
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You didn't mention eating potatoes, rice, and pasta. Don't be afraid to eat carbs. Those foods will help fill you up.
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#5 Old 06-09-2016, 10:24 PM
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Also fats like avocado and nuts make you feel satiated and are more calorie dense.
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#6 Old 06-12-2016, 06:39 AM
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Most likely, you're not getting enough calories. That's the most common trap on a vegan diet because vegan foods are generally less calorie-dense and you need to eat a greater volume of food. Try tracking foods on MyFitnessPal, and make sure you're getting enough calories. Also, it might be a good idea to somewhat increase the amount of fat in your diet.
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#7 Old 06-15-2016, 02:36 PM
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I would suggest adding beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, tofu, and seitan to your fruits, veggies and grains. Even if you want no highly processed foods, these are nutrient and calorie dense foods that you likely need to feel energized and satiated.
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#8 Old 06-21-2016, 09:05 PM
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The first time I tried to go fully vegan, my mistake was not getting enough variety and not getting enough calories, which then led to eating a lot of junk food. It didn't work.

The next time around, I did more research, and I've really expanded my options for protein and grains. You need protein and fats in your diet, and it's completely possible to get them without eating prepackaged food or tons and tons of tofu.

I also use https://cronometer.com/ to track my nutrients. Not just calories or macros, but minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and more. It's important to get enough of the amino acid lysine in particular (Jack Norris, RD has a good article about protein and lysine), and there are quite a few good sources of it.

Here's Jack Norris' article: http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein
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#9 Old 06-24-2016, 11:26 AM
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When was the last time that you had a full physical? You may be deficient in magnesium, b vitamins, or even vitamin D. I had the same issue with fatigue but it went away after I started taking supplements. My doctor did a full blood workup for me.
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#10 Old 06-25-2016, 04:12 PM
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When was the last time that you had a full physical? You may be deficient in magnesium, b vitamins, or even vitamin D. I had the same issue with fatigue but it went away after I started taking supplements. My doctor did a full blood workup for me.
I had bloodwork done yearly and had assumed D was included. It was not. After complaining about bone pain in my feet, so bad they sometimes 'locked' up, I was shuffled to podiatrists and orthopedic doctors- wasted my time and money.
It was only on my request that I found I was at 12. I'd been supplementing D2 so my doctor 'assumed' I was fine
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#11 Old 07-01-2016, 03:16 PM
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Probably not getting enough calories. Eat more meals and calorie-dense foods, like bananas. In the morning, try putting 10 bananas and a little bit of water, or almond milk, or whatever else you like to add to your smoothie, and that is literally a 1,000-calorie smoothie.
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#12 Old 07-03-2016, 10:24 AM
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You did not mention "potty" issues. Eating all that fiberous, un-processed/raw foods really made me have a huge amount of fiber in my #2, and while that is good, it is also bad because it can make gut transit time way too fast to really ferment/draw out nutrients, so possibly cause electrolite imbalance. It is is really hot outside as well. I am certainly no expert, but I had the same issue when transitioning to vegan, and I ate brown rice/beans/ and nothing but no-fat vegetables. Now I have put a bit more fat back into my diet and I am not so tired due to potty issues. Eating foods with slightly less fiber is also helpful for transition, like potatoes.

I am a great believer in gut biome, and it takes a few months before you change your gut biome due to a change in diet. (Each microbe lives only about 20 minutes, but you have millions). All people should have the same microbes in their body (give or take), but the amount per type has to do with the diet you have, so meat eaters have one dominant type, while low fat vegans have another dominant type. This is also why (I believe) people who have been eating vegan for a while get sick when accidentally eating very fatty foods or something with hidden meat.
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#13 Old 07-03-2016, 06:09 PM
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I am a great believer in gut biome, and it takes a few months before you change your gut biome due to a change in diet. (Each microbe lives only about 20 minutes, but you have millions). All people should have the same microbes in their body (give or take), but the amount per type has to do with the diet you have, so meat eaters have one dominant type, while low fat vegans have another dominant type. This is also why (I believe) people who have been eating vegan for a while get sick when accidentally eating very fatty foods or something with hidden meat.
I studied this back in school a few times. Gut microbiome and intestinal health in general is very interesting. Unfortunately, many studies are conducted on pigs (more similar digestive tract to humans than mice, for example), which I find strange because finding human fecal samples cannot possibly be that difficult, right? Unpleasant, I'm sure, but more pleasant than animal harvesting/murder.

I do not avoid fat necessarily, but given my diet I generally do not consume much. I do not stray away from avocados, nuts/seeds, and some fatty foods when eating at a restaurant, but in the case of something fried with a high amount of residual oil... I almost always develop a stomachache.

That aside, everyone has addressed calories. That is definitely the issue. I second the comment that you should not be afraid of carbs! When transitioning I also found that my digestion improved, referring to the lack of feeling like food was "sitting in your gut." I LOVE not feeling weighed down.

It sounds like you are doing a great job, and I wish you luck with your transition and clearing up your fatigue!!
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#14 Old 07-06-2016, 08:24 AM
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you probably aren't eating enough, try getting blood tested and check for chemical imbalances. it also could be caused by another medical condition, i would recommend seeking medical help.
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