Acute fatigue spells when being Veggie - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-06-2015, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Acute fatigue spells when being Veggie

I've been trying to be Veggie for a few years now. I'm 30 years old (Male) and started when I was 26. Up to this point I was having 1 or 2 portions of meat/fish a day.

I had a completely Vegetarian diet for around 18 months, I would always make sure I had a source of protein in every lunch/dinner I had, whether it be baked beans, eggs, cheese, chickpeas or lentils; however my energy definitely dropped. Occasionally I would get days where I felt really drained, just so tired I could barely function (I've never felt like this before)

So I started having fish and white meat again, and I felt better with no more acute fatigue days. A few weeks ago I've tried reducing this and having at least 3 veggie days a week, however last week after 3 veggie days in a row I got another day of feeling really drained in a way I hadn't felt since my last veggie spell. As I said I always make sure I'm getting enough protein. I also regularly have almonds or cashew nuts. So I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, or if my body just isn't suited to it. Any advice would be very helpful.

Thanks, Chris
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#2 Old 07-06-2015, 03:07 AM
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Hi Chris
I suspect protein may be a red herring in the nutrition stakes.

Some suggestions & things to look at:

1. Do you take any supplements - like a multi vitamin & mineral? I'd advise starting if you don't, a lot of us don't eat as well as we could and even when I am at my most virtuous with food I still take a B complex supplement, Vit C & zinc and Vitamin D. If I'm feeling under the weather I will also take a multi-vitamin. I know some people don't like supplements but sometimes we need to give our bodies a bit of a boost.

2. Knowing nothing much about your diet, apart from the fact that you ate a vegetarian diet for 18months and then went back to eating meat (for how long?). You have now had three veggie days in a week (which is not enough time to build up any nutritional deficiencies) I wonder what else you're eating. What sort of carbs are you consuming? What sort of veg? What sort of protein? How much water are you drinking? How much fruit are you eating? How much processed food versus whole foods are you eating? Fatigue can be a symptom of so many things (dehydration, hunger, not enough carbs etc in the short term). The fact that you feel recovered after only a short time of eating meat suggests that this has less to do with nutrition and more to do with the amounts you're eating.

3. When do you experience the fatigue. All day? Mid afternoons? Mornings? If it's first thing in the morning and you have difficulty getting out of bed it could be that you are working with a calorie deficit and your body needs more food generally. If it's mid afternoon perhaps look at how carb heavy your lunch is.

4. How much sleep are you getting? Are you a night owl or a lark?

Good luck with finding a solution that works for you. I can only speak from personal experience but it took me a little while to get the diet right and I had the help of a nutritionist along the way.
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#3 Old 07-06-2015, 04:00 AM
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As @Shallot pointed out, eating a vegetarian diet-- even a poorly planned one-- for three days couldn't cause a nutritional deficiency. The fatigue you're experiencing must be either psychological, unrelated to diet, or (most likely) the result of simply not eating enough food. Because plant foods are typically lower in calories than animal products, it takes a larger amount to meet your daily calorie requirements and to feel satiated. You might try eating bigger portions and incorporating more calorie-dense plant foods like avocado and coconut into your meals. Personally, I find that I need to eat every 4 or 5 hours to keep my energy levels up and to not feel hungry, so I snack often. It's never a bad idea to keep snacks with you at all times so that you always have something to nibble on if you need a boost. With veg*n diets, you don't have to worry much about overeating. It's a big perk!
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#4 Old 07-06-2015, 04:44 AM
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Yes to snacking! Have been accused of 'always eating' at the office - which is sort of true I do eat throughout the day but I find that I work best if I have a second breakfast and a small afternoon meal (perhaps I'm a hobbit in disguise? - to non Tolkien fans sorry for the obscure reference).
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#5 Old 07-06-2015, 06:09 AM
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Thanks both,

I don't take any supplements. I have 5 portions of fruit and veg most days which I think gives me all the vitamins I need, although I'm always hearing about Vitamin D.

I've been eating fish 3 or 4 times a week and chicken once a week for about the last 9 months.

My carbs are regularly wholegrain bread and pasta, and sometimes potatoes.I have a banana every day, the main veg I eat is Broccoli, Mushrooms, Peas and Carrots.

I have processed food once or twice a week.

The acute fatigue spells last for 24-48 hours when they come.

I drink plenty of water throughout the day and get around 7 hours of sleep most nights.

I eat 3 regular meals and snacks, I don't think I'm under-eating. I enjoy food and I'm lucky to have high metabolism so I've never tried to restrict what I eat.
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#6 Old 07-06-2015, 06:52 AM
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Do you count calories? Animal foods are (with few exceptions, like nuts) always more calorie dense than plant based foods. It's very easy to *think* you're eating enough on a veg/vegan diet and in fact be only taking in 1000-1500 calories a day. Obviously, that is not nearly enough for a healthy adult and you will likely feel tired/run down. A MASSIVE veg meal can only be a couple hundred calories, depending on what's in it. I'd suggest signing up for cronometer (or similar diet tracking app) and seeing how many calories and nutrients you're *actually* consuming.

"The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself"
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#7 Old 07-07-2015, 02:20 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Thanks KiwiBird - I'd not actually considered calories. I've been on to a good Cronometer website and put in my typical foods for a day.

As I said I have been eating fish and occasional chicken for the last 9 months. It does seem on some days I fall a little bit short of my RDA in calories for my weight and height (by about 200 calories) so over a couple of days I guess this could build up.

When I first went veggie I combined it with giving up processed food, and lost about a stone going down from 10 st to 9 st. For a 5'11 man I know this is slightly underweight. So I'm going to try and up my calories, add seeds to my veggie meals and try to have more avocados and nuts. Ideally I want to go back up to 10 stone, but don't want to do this through more processed food again. If I try to force myself to eat more than normal I often get indigestion too which makes it more difficult, but I'll see what I can do.
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#8 Old 07-07-2015, 05:38 AM
Join Date: May 2015
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I, too, think the issue is most likely not taking in enough calories. You said you eat a lot of fruit and veg, which are super healthy but low in calories. Protein is over-rated. Whole plant foods have all the protein you need.
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#9 Old 07-12-2015, 09:11 PM
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Hi staybeautiful,

You have good insight - nuts, seeds, and avocados are great foods for adding more calories to your diet. What is your calorie goal per day? Are you adding in extra calories to fuel your physical activities?


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
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#10 Old 07-15-2015, 03:02 AM
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Have you been checked for diabetes?

My usual answer: I have never heard a convincing reason to eat meat.
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