Switching to a Vegan Diet Troubleshooting: Feeling tired

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When switching to a new diet there is always the possibility that you will feel worse when first starting it whether or not it’s a good diet.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t make the switch. It is always a smart idea to transition to a plant based lifestyle even if you are not planning on being vegan or adopting a fully vegan diet.

kale salad and raw dressing

kale salad and raw dressing

The reasons why you might feel worse at first when adopting a vegan diet:

1. Detox – Yes! You might experience a range of mild or heavy detox symptoms (Herxheimer symptoms) and one of the main detox symptoms is tiredness and fatigue along with headaches and body soreness.

2. Your body is shocked by the sudden change in habits and it’s taking time to adapt to the new lifestyle. Any change, even a good change can be tough for your body. If you need to slow down you can do that. Or you can just be mindful and allow your body to adapt. We are all different and we all do things in a different way. Any change takes time. Take deepening the breath for example. If you have been a shallow breather during your life (which most of us are) that will affect your energy levels, fitness performance and ability to be flexible in yoga (possibly in life 🙂 ). In order to deepen the breath you will need to embark on a mindful path of self-acceptence, self-knowledge and letting go along with applying some basic breathing techniques. This is a commitment! Not a light switch type of change. Even if that means you must commit for the rest of your life to continuously deepen your breath the commitment is worth your time and effort and you still should do it.

3. Your digestion might be less than optimal and you are not absorbing the most from your plant based meals. You might need a simple detox in order to get your digestion and assimilation up to optimal functionality. Healing your gut will improve your health on all levels. It will allow you to get the most out of your meals and it will give you endless bounds of energy as your body is no longer putting all its energy and blood flow into digestion and dealing with indigestion.

4. You might not be eating enough CALORIES FROM CARBS. Make sure you are getting a lot of calories and a huge volume of food. Raw plant food is low in calories and high in water content so often times you may think that you ate enough, but you just consumed a meal of 200 calories- not enough to sustain you on an active lifestyle. I actually find that when eating vegan and low fat I need more overall calories in general. For example if you eat a diet that is higher in fat (30% of calories from fat) or a diet that includes meat and dairy you might be able to get by on a 1200 calorie/day diet and be okay. Once you make the switch you will need to “up” the calories as these are clean calories- clean energy and you burn them quickly with no toxic residue in your system. If you are having troubles increasing your caloric intake try smoothies at first and throw ripe bananas and dates in them in order to boost the calories from carbs.

5. You may not be getting enough greens!!!! I cannot emphasis enough the importance of greens in a low fat high carb vegan diet. They have multiple functions- one less well known benefit from them is that they “sanitize” your digestive system. If you suffer from candida or any other fungal, bacterial or parasitic infestation you will need a few pounds of greens a day in order to allow your system to get rid of the “invaders” and heal itself with the extra nutritional boost greens give you. At first I would suggest tender baby greens as your gut is still sensitive and not able to process harder foods such as raw broccoli for example. Chew well! Or blend your greens into delicious drinks and smoothies. Greens are LIFE!  They will boost your energy, recovery time and improve your overall sense of well being.

6. Drink plenty of water on an empty stomach!

7. Correctly combine your meals especially if you suffer from indigestion. All dis-ease begins in the gut. Indigestion is one of the first and early symptoms of disease later on in life so take it as your body’s message that you need to heal. Take it to heart, address it and you will be glad you did.

Let me know if you have other questions.

I will do some future posts on healing the gut and using herbs and foods that can help.


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  1. Julia's Gravatar

    Thank you, this was very helpful. You continue to inspire me daily <3

  2. laurajones-miller1's Gravatar
    laurajones-miller1 23rd June 2014, 5:06 pm

    Nice article Ali…So many bodies have a hard time adjusting while their bodies are clearing the way for a healthier diet…I remember being really hungry for a few weeks…now, I am never starving…Just ready to eat…I feel fabulous… so thank you for all of your wonderful help! xox, L

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