Help! feeling fatigued and weak while eating a healthy vegan diet.

blixa

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Hi all! I am new here. I joined because I need some serious advice.
My heart and soul is with veganism and I am trying really hard to make it work. In November, I decided to go for it and I did a fully plant based diet for 21 days straight with no exceptions. I wasn't eating any vegan junk food either. I basically was eating rice, boiled veggies, beans, and fruit. I also kept an eye on my fats to make sure I wasnt going overboard.
For some reason, no matter how much I ate in a day I would get really bad dips in energy levels. It felt kind of like a mild blood sugar crash. (I'm not diabetic but I've heard this can happen to everyone.) I would just get really fatigued and weak and hungry sometimes too, even though I had just eaten a full meal. I also gained a lot of weight during that 21 days.
I really want to make this diet work for me but I need to know what is missing from my diet or eating routine so I can feel healthy. I know this diet is super healing for everyone I hear talk about it, so I just feel like I am missing some key piece.
Any ideas???

Thank you so much,
Blixa
 

Forest Nymph

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There's a strong possibility that you weren't eating enough fat or calories. I wonder if the weight you gained was water weight or if you were very thin before going vegan. Usually issues with weight gain affect the banana binge eaters who do the raw fruit diets or simply is a few pounds you actually needed to be healthy. I lost ten pounds without even trying in the first six weeks I was vegan.

I'm thinking that you probably need to add nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut milk and potentially oil, depending on what you decide to do, because watching your fat in take too much is actually dangerous and will restrict the number of calories you eat too severely.

I would also recommend you add other protein sources like tofu, seitan, tempeh and nut butters even if you don't want to try vegan products.

If you weren't eating enough calories but eating a ton of fiber you'd feel full, possibly bloated but still tired from caloric deficiency. Your body can also retain water and gas if it thinks it's starving, so I'm wondering how much weight you actually gained.

Need more info but outside of weight gain claims sounds like a clear cut case of not enough calories and fat.
 

blixa

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There's a strong possibility that you weren't eating enough fat or calories. I wonder if the weight you gained was water weight or if you were very thin before going vegan. Usually issues with weight gain affect the banana binge eaters who do the raw fruit diets or simply is a few pounds you actually needed to be healthy. I lost ten pounds without even trying in the first six weeks I was vegan.

I'm thinking that you probably need to add nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut milk and potentially oil, depending on what you decide to do, because watching your fat in take too much is actually dangerous and will restrict the number of calories you eat too severely.

I would also recommend you add other protein sources like tofu, seitan, tempeh and nut butters even if you don't want to try vegan products.

If you weren't eating enough calories but eating a ton of fiber you'd feel full, possibly bloated but still tired from caloric deficiency. Your body can also retain water and gas if it thinks it's starving, so I'm wondering how much weight you actually gained.

Need more info but outside of weight gain claims sounds like a clear cut case of not enough calories and fat.
AHH ok this is extremely helpful thank you. I honestly had been avoiding high fat foods because it seemed like everybody on the internet was saying that if you didnt do 80%/10%/10% (high carb low fat) then you would probably gain wait. I am a pretty healthy weight but I was hoping to lose a few pounds on this diet still. Everything your saying would make total sense! Thanks again!!
 

Forest Nymph

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AHH ok this is extremely helpful thank you. I honestly had been avoiding high fat foods because it seemed like everybody on the internet was saying that if you didnt do 80%/10%/10% (high carb low fat) then you would probably gain wait. I am a pretty healthy weight but I was hoping to lose a few pounds on this diet still. Everything your saying would make total sense! Thanks again!!

You're welcome. Some of your nutrients need fat to process efficiently, as well as your brain and nervous system needing a minimum of fat. If you don't feel comfortable with oil nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado and coconut all help, but a little olive oil or canola oil is fine for most healthy people. I recommend it because it can be cheaper to just make a tahini dressing or stir fry tofu and veggies in a little oil instead of always having avocado or walnuts.

I lost weight literally eating everything. Vegenaise, Tofurky, eating vegan products etc. At first at least. Simply removing dairy and eggs from my diet took away what I obviously didn't need.

I personally think it's all about balance. People have different diets and that's totally fine but certain diets like thirty bananas a day or 80/10/10 only seem to work for a minority of people. Others have unpleasant issues of hunger or weight gain or too much weight loss or simply feeling deprived.
 

Lou

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Hi. Welcome. And I'm pretty sure FN is right.
Just a couple of things to add.

First, 80/10/10 is a very hard diet to do right. I tried to do it a few times and one of the times i did it I ended up gaining weight. It's usually associated with a raw or raw till 4 diet. Which is also usually associated with a high-calorie intake and a very active lifestyle.

Something closer to a 60/20/20 is much more achievable and easier. IMHO knocking fat intake below 20 is super hard and keeping protein below 20% isn't really that good for people either. It is hard to get the minimum amount of protein at 10% with just a reasonable number of calories.

my other idea, which I'm a little foggy on the science but it's something like this: your intestinal flora needs to adapt and that takes a while. the bacteria in your gut does send messages to your brain and some of them are cravings or feelings of hunger. I think it can even affect your metabolism. After eating a high fiber diet for a while (probably more than 3 weeks) your flora will adapt and find a new equilibrium.

Anyway, I have two pieces of advice. You can do both or just one or another. They are compatible.

1. keep a food log in ChronOmeter. If you are not familiar with CronOmeter, I will include a link to an instructional video at the bottom. Inputting your food is just a little time-consuming. But there is a learning curve and you get faster at it pretty fast. Also, Cronometer learns about you and pretty soon you don't have to type in the whole word. Like Google it learns and fills in. BTW, the website is free. The app costs a little. and when you buy the app you get some extra features unlocked on the website that are really worth it. But try it for a week before you shell out the money.

Chronometer does all the figuring out and math for your diet. And then presents the info in color-coded bar graphs and pie charts. The RDAs that it comes with are pretty good. although you may want to adjust some of them later. If there is any issue with your diet - it will reveal it. But I wouldn't screw with the defaults till you have read at least one book on nutrition.

2. Follow Dr. Gregar's checklist. I will include a link to a PDF. You can print it, laminate it, and put it on the frig with a dry erase marker. There is also a free app you can use. One thing you need to look up is what is considered a serving. I was at first alarmed at how much food it seemed to be but some of the "servings" are actually pretty small.

I have a lot of trouble making it thru the checklist every day. It is just too much food. And I also don't meet his exercise requirement every day. But I think its best use is as a goal. For me, hitting most of the objectives most of the time is good enough.

Cronometer Overview

Daily Dozen Checklist PDF

Daily Dozen Instructional video

Daily Dozen serving sizes
 

TofuRobot

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Lou's pretty much covered it all... My 2 cents is that I sometimes start feeling tired/low-energy when I've not been either eating enough protein (or just not enough calories in general), getting enough exercise, or I'm not getting enough sunlight. Stress is also a factor. I consider what we put into our minds to be part of our daily "diet," too, so relieving stress can absolutely have a positive effect on your energy levels. xo
 
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Lou

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Oh, TofuRobot reminded me that I too sometimes would feel fatigued and weak, too. I think its always been after a high carb breakfast and an active morning. Like if I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast. my guess is that my body just temporarily overdid the insulin production. In a nutrition and exercise book I read years ago they said this can happen also when your body is adjusting to a new (exercise) routine.
If this happens a lot and at the same time of day, I would try adjusting the meal before. add more complex carbs or even some fats.
 
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blixa

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Oh, TofuRobot reminded me that I too sometimes would feel fatigued and weak, too. I think its always been after a high carb breakfast and an active morning. Like if I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast. my guess is that my body just temporarily overdid the insulin production. In a nutrition and exercise book I read years ago they said this can happen also when your body is adjusting to a new (exercise) routine.
If this happens a lot and at the same time of day, I would try adjusting the meal before. add more complex carbs or even some fats.
AWESOME thank you! I like to use apps to track my diets so I'm excited to try Cronometer. You also mentioned that my intestinal flora could take longer than 3 weeks to heal which I didn't consider. I probably thought I was eating a balanced diet and totally wasn't. This helps immensely!!
 

Kerrshay

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Maybe your caloric intake was insufficient. A vegan diet is good and healthy when you have all the essentials.
 

Thabo

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About 10 years ago when I became a vegan I had the same problem you are having and it was very frustrating to say the least.

What helped me improve in my life was increasing my protein intake and a bit of fats. The reason you need to add protein is because in most cases people in a vegan diet tend to not take enough of it.

So because your body has been used to getting adequate protein (from a meat diet) it starts to complain. In my case I had this problem and was helped by a doctor who said my muscle mass was degenerating.
He then suggested I up my protein intake and fat and I will get back my normal energy levels.

This tip was revolutionary to me and I have never had the problem you are having ever since.

Some foods you can focus on are protein shakes and also smoothies with added proteins like nuts.
 

veganDreama

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I find green tea increases my activity levels and also since I've been on an iron supplement I've felt more active. Also if you eat food that increases your metabolism like sea weed that might help too. Good luck and I hope you STAY vegan.
 

Lou

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AHH ok this is extremely helpful thank you. I honestly had been avoiding high fat foods because it seemed like everybody on the internet was saying that if you didnt do 80%/10%/10% (high carb low fat) then you would probably gain wait. I am a pretty healthy weight but I was hoping to lose a few pounds on this diet still. Everything your saying would make total sense! Thanks again!!
I think 80/10/10 is really hard to do. In order to get enough protein, you have to eat a lot of calories. I think the people who successfully do 80/10/10 are all athletes or gym nuts that consume (and burn) 3000 calories a day or more.

IMHO 60/20/20 is not only more achievable but healthier. And even better for weight control. When I monitor my % in Cronometer I find that my fat is most likely to be in the 20 - 30% range and my protein is in the 10 - 20% range. So I put some effort into increasing protein and decreasing fat. So the 20/20 part becomes a goal.
 
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Slonaut

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Eat more raw veggies, embrace salads. Reduce rice and other starch to a minimum and eat dried fruits like dates, figs and raisins instead, they will keep you from having dips, they are rich in vitamins and minerals and the fiber prevents the natural sugars from going into your blood too fast, so your energy will be more constant.
Toast your bread and make sure it's whole wheat. Eat fruits and dried fruits alone or before a meal.

Avoid fake meat and processed foods like the plague.

Your body will need more than a month to adjust, perhaps even more than two months depending on how much meat and dairy you ate before. This is normal, you are reversing a lifetime of eating unnatural food.
 

Emma JC

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As I have stated I disagree completely with the recommendation of no cooked foods and few starches as I feel it is unsustainable and not healthy or even enjoyable. Yesterday I happened to watch High Carb Hannah's latest video and it pretty much sums up everything I have thinking. We all have choices that we make regarding the foods we choose and that is as it should be. Recommending that others should follow us without basing it on any scientific evidence or proof could be harmful.


Emma JC
 

FredVegrox

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If one is not feeling well from the change, is what was changed to really a healthy way of eating? I suspect it isn't, maybe because there wasn't so much variety. The healthiest way, which won't make you worse, is having just whole plant-based food. http://www.forksoverknives.com
 
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pamsworld44

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Quinoa and lentils can help satiate while adding protein. Energy bites with dates and nuts is great for a quick pick me up, as well as an apple with almond butter. Fruit with lots of fiber. At first you do go through a period of a lot of hunger due to our bodies craving empty calories and fat. It takes a minute but you’ll get there !!!!!
 

FredVegrox

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I still believe that there is a right way which includes, besides most of all the greens and other color vegetables and fruits, whole grains and legumes, nuts, and seeds. None of these should be missing from a way of eating, which is the only thing I mean by diet as applied to that which is vegan, for it to be healthy. Additional things in small amounts can be good for having it still healthier, certainly with vitamin B12 which we all should get, as supplements if that way is needed for it, and healthy seasonings, and occasionally seaweed.
 

QualityGains

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Hi Blixa, you've made a couple of points that could be linked with different levels. I try to address them point by point.

Weight gain:
Please make sure you actually gained fat, or if it's only your perception of doing so. Do you have before/ after pictures? Did you track your weight before after going vegan? If not please do this right now.

If it's actual fat gain and not water weight (due to increased consumption of carbohydrates), please consider tracking your total calories just for one day on a website such as Cronometer.com. This way you make sure that you're on the right path.

Energy levels:
A drop in energy level can be linked to different issues like lack of sleep (both quality + quantity), exercise or stress. Please make sure that you know that it's the vegan diet that is causing the issue.

If it's actually linked to the vegan diet, make sure that you eat a multitude of complex carbohydrates. How does your breakfast look like? An insufficient breakfast, or a breakfast that spikes your carbohydrate levels, could lead to cravings or a crash later..

Let me know if you have further questions!
Florian
 
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