Question:

Just went vegan about a month ago and I have been feeling tired with low energy. I sleep 8 hours a day or more. I eat oatmeal with hemp and chia seeds and peanut butter for breakfast with almond milk. Lunch is brown rice or quinoa with veggies and beans. Dinner is similar to lunch. I drink 1/2 a gallon to a gallon of water a day. Thanks for reviewing this.

– Adrian

Answer:

Thanks for reaching out, Adrian. At first glance, your described diet seems to be lacking in nuts and greens which provide calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fats. Variety is essential to getting adequate nutrition. Perhaps switch up your peanut butter by including some walnuts during the week. If your calories are still up on your new vegan diet, then I’d consider micronutrient lows since you are feeling tired.

Although a month is a short amount of time, it’s possible you may be slightly anemic.

Iron and Vitamin B-12 are key micronutrients needed to keep red blood cells carrying oxygen. Vegetarian Resource Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that for Vitamin B-12, “Non-animal sources include cereals, soymilk, rice milk, and meat analogs that have been fortified with vitamin B12. Also, around two teaspoons of Red Star nutritional yeast T6635, often labeled as Vegetarian Support Formula, supplies the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance.”  Iron is a mineral found in dried beans (such as lentils, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas) and dark green leafy vegetables (such as Swiss chard, bok choy, and kale), as well as blackstrap molasses, tempeh, tahini, bulgur, millet, watermelon and raisins. To increase the absorption of iron from plant foods, consume sources of Vitamin C at the same time. For instance, add a tomato salsa to a bean burrito.

Source: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/VeganDietsinaNutshellPoster.pdf

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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