Feeling lethargic

Lucy500

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I've been vegan now for 4 weeks and i'm finding the changing surprisingly easy. Although I ate meat prior to starting this diet, I ate relatively healthy and so creating plant-based meals isn't a problem for me. However, after one week in I began to feel incredibly lethargic and suffered from headaches. It comes and goes but i experience it most days. I feel completely sapped of energy and often just feel like napping in the daytime and don't desire to move. I generally eat Weetabix or porridge for breakfast with fortified coconut milk. For lunch, I then tend to eat a salad with plenty of pulses such as beans, chickpeas or quinoa. Then for dinner, I will have something like a lentil bolognese or curry or plant-based burger and salad. I also have been taking multivitamins, B vitamins, and Omega 3 capsules. I don't understand exactly what i'm deficient in as I try to eat healthy meals that contain all the nutrients I need and use an array of different vegetables in all my meals. Does anyone have any advice?
 
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amberfunk

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Might be that you're not eating enough for your activity level. Plant meals are much lower in calories than animal. You could also be dehydrated if you're not drinking enough water. Are you hungry in between meals?
 

Lucy500

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Yes i've noticed that i'm hungry alot more and crave sweet things like chocolate and biscuits. I drink plenty of water throughout the day but I also do quite a lot of heavy exercise so maybe it could be that i'm not getting enough calories. However, I feel that i still eat around 1800 calories a day and whilst doing this diet I haven't lost any weight whatsoever.
 
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Lou

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It is sort of unlikely that you could develop a deficiency in just 4 weeks. So I am going to side with amberfunk with the calories thing.

You said that you "feel that i still eat around 1800 calories a day". So I think the very first step is to check that out. You may have a favorite calorie counter that you like to use but I'm going to recommend Cronometer. I must have recommended Cronometer a dozen times this year, and I'm beginning to "feel" like a broken record.

One of the best features of Cronometer is that it also tracks almost every other important nutrient. So you will be able to quickly see if there are any nutrients you are not getting. Even tho I don't think the symptoms of a deficiency would show up so fast.

Not getting enough calories is probably the number one rookie mistake a vegan makes. And in some ways, it's a good mistake. It means you are NOT eating a bunch of Oreos, chips, and Ben and Jerry's.

(click-clacking of a keyboard)

(2 minutes later)

Ok, I'm back. I just went and plugged in your daily meal plan. Of course, I didn't have all the things you ate but I made some good guesses and I came up with 1200 calories.
Breakfast ≈ 200
Lunch ≈ 500
Dinner ≈ 500

A midmorning snack - maybe a banana. And afternoon snack of a smoothie and an evening snack of an apple will get you to 1800 calories.

Also if you aren't' eating enough food you are probably not getting enough of other nutrients as well.

If after plugging in a few days into cronometer and you are satisfied that you ARE getting enough calories. Then my next guess would be iron. Even if Cronometer is showing our iron intake to be sufficient (and in the meal plan I just plugged in - it is), it still might not be enough. Non-heme iron (the kind in plants) is just not as absorbable as Heme iron. Plus some of the foods we eat interfere with iron absorption. and some people just don't absorb iron that well.

Does your multi have iron? Some do not. Try taking your multi with iron with a glass of juice (Vitamin C improves absorption). if you drink caffeinated coffee or tea, don't take the multi within a few hours of the caffeine.

My final suggestion is to see a doctor. the lethargy and headaches may be a sensitivity so something new in your diet. or it might be something that has nothing to do with food. Could be a seasonal allergy. Sleep deprivation. Depression. or something really serious.
 

Nekodaiden

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I'm going to agree with amberfunk on the subject of calories with the correction that the caloric density really depends on the type of plant food eaten.

For example, based on a 100g serving:

McDonald's Big Mac (roughly 1/2 of, or 100g): 257 calories

Sunflower kernels (100g): 584 calories

source: nutritiondata.self.com

Not only do the sunflower seeds pack more calories per 100g serving, they also provide much larger portions of minerals and vitamins. These, among other higher calorie plant foods are great go to-s for energy and nutrition needs.
 
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Air

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Everyone has good suggestions here. I think the first month can be the hardest to adjust to at first since the body seems to go through a detox of sorts. Or at least that happened to me.

If this continues however and nothing seems to help I would recommend going to see a doctor and having blood tests done just in case. Sometimes unrelated things can come up. I had hypothyroid issues for example in the past (long before going vegan); was diagnosed when I was 17, and I remember the doctor telling me that eating too many cruciferous veggies (like broccolis, cabbage, and such) will naturally lower thyroid hormones, so if ones thyroid hormones already are almost too low this could potentially make them even lower, possiblly causing fatigue and lethargy. I think this used to happen to me for a time, although i don't think I have that trouble anymore since the last times I had blood tests everything was normal. Mostly my fatigue issues now relate to being stressed at work (I'm trying to learn healthy stress relieving habits) since I was completely fine until after starting my job. I think the body also likes some sort of routine and my work shifts tends to throw it off at times. xD So perhaps it's also the body learning to readjust to everything and detox? Could be calories or iron too like what others mentioned.
 
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Wifeymommaboss

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I've been vegan now for 4 weeks and i'm finding the changing surprisingly easy. Although I ate meat prior to starting this diet, I ate relatively healthy and so creating plant-based meals isn't a problem for me. However, after one week in I began to feel incredibly lethargic and suffered from headaches. It comes and goes but i experience it most days. I feel completely sapped of energy and often just feel like napping in the daytime and don't desire to move. I generally eat Weetabix or porridge for breakfast with fortified coconut milk. For lunch, I then tend to eat a salad with plenty of pulses such as beans, chickpeas or quinoa. Then for dinner, I will have something like a lentil bolognese or curry or plant-based burger and salad. I also have been taking multivitamins, B vitamins, and Omega 3 capsules. I don't understand exactly what i'm deficient in as I try to eat healthy meals that contain all the nutrients I need and use an array of different vegetables in all my meals. Does anyone have any advice?
It is week 2 for my vegan transition and I am definitely getting headaches and feeling lethargic. Everything I have read says this is normal and that it could last for 30 days or more, but you do feel better eventually. I have started taking a B12 supplement and am checking my iron levels regularly at work. My iron is steady at 15, so no real difference there. I would eat more frequently through out the day and drink lots of water.
 

Emma JC

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I agree with everyone that suggests a lack of calories and would add, a lack of satisfying calories.

Bump up the starches, would be my suggestion. More potatoes, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, whole grain pastas and breads, rice.... make sure that you are fully satiated at every meal. The glucose from the starch conversion is important for our brains.

Track your calories on Cronometer and also track your activity levels. 1800 calories may be too few for a day that includes heavy exercise. Once you level out, tracking is not needed as it will be intuitive.

Emma JC
 

Lou

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Track your calories on Cronometer and also track your activity levels. 1800 calories may be too few for a day that includes heavy exercise. Once you level out, tracking is not needed as it will be intuitive.

Emma JC
Cronometer can also estimate calories expended (burned). It even syncs with some of the most common fitness trackers. Or you can do it automatically or manually.

If you use a tracker or add them manually, make sure to set the activity level to "none" or it will count your activities twice.
 
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Forest Nymph

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You're not eating enough. You'll get the hang of it. I remember being a new vegan, and craving potato chips of all gross things and eating SO MANY CHIPS! Lol.

I also craved greens. Eat those.

My old roommate, the entire female side of her fam is vegetarian or vegan, and I felt a lot of support from her.


Her advice is surprisingly similar to Freelee.....eat as much of you want of whole foods, eat as much as you want. One of her sisters was anorexic and she was very insistent on this point (and she is model thin and quite beautiful, more so than myself) ...that if you still feel you should eat, YOU SHOULD.

Some vegans eat six times a day, just to eat whole foods regularly, and the one thing I think you might be deprived on is healthy fats. Eat nuts as snacks. Or go party, use oil in your cooking (I think no oil is insane, though I agree the general veggie fry oil is disgusting, maybe you can buy some canola or refined coconut or olive oil).
 
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