For people who are medically healthy, a poor diet may be to blame for fatigue and general tiredness. Lack of energy is an issue across the board for vegans and non-vegans alike. Some may blame a diet lacking animal products for their exhaustion after transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Others may be meat-eaters with a seemingly healthy diet and experiencing the same fatigue. Luckily, there is a solution to the food coma we’ve all experienced at some point. That solution is a plant-based diet. While veganism gets rid of a lot of calorie-dense and fatty foods, it does not eliminate them completely. Understanding the causes of your tiredness is crucial to implementing a fix. Thankfully, there is a healthy and natural quick fix for this issue.
What Causes Sleepiness?
A diet high in fats can very well lead to fatigue.
Meat and meat products tend to be high in LDL Cholesterol, this is a main cause of fatigue. LDL fats raise cholesterol and are considered “bad” fats. By cutting out animal products you cut out many of the ‘obvious’ sources of bad fats like red meat, butter and cheese. You may wonder about all of these “good” fats we hear about. These are HDL fats and include foods like avocados, nuts, seeds etc. These fats are good in regulated amounts. Too many fats in your diet can cause many issues beginning with tiredness escalating to obesity and even death. Although many may believe otherwise, not all vegans are healthy. Being a junk-food vegan may be the source of your fatigue.
Sugar comes in various forms and it can be hard to detect in certain packaged foods and it is pumped into more foods than you would expect. Juice and soda are a huge source of artificial sugars. Even in packaged foods make sure to look at the ingredients and watch out for any forms of sugar listed. Artificial and refined sugar, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is highly addictive and in excessive amounts, it will spike your blood sugar levels, which can lead to a ‘crash’ making you feel drowsy or depressed.
Many people go straight to simple carbs as a primary source of food once transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. This is the easiest way to transition to a vegan lifestyle because you can still enjoy staples we’ve had in our diet since childhood. However, refined/simple carbohydrates can cause sleepiness due to rising and dropping blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates found in starchy vegetables, grains and seeds will gradually release energy into your system, rather than all at once, like a simple carb will.
A plant-based vegan diet, full of nutrient-rich carbohydrates and low in fats, boosts energy levels dramatically. Many people feel an energy increase within even a day or two. A plant based diet is a diet that consists of mostly foods derived from plants (rather than based around animal products or processed foods) such as fruit, vegetables, potatoes, rice, seeds/nuts, and legumes. This sounds scary but don’t worry, you can still have your tortilla wraps, breads and pastas as long as the majority of your diet consists of plant-based foods. In addition to an increase in whole food carbs and a lower fat intake, cut out added sugar as much as possible to prevent ‘crashes’ in energy. Don’t worry, fruits provide all of the natural sugar you not only need, but crave.
Losing Weight and Eating Carbs
So you want more energy but you’re also trying to lose weight… but carbs are bad for you right? Carbs will pack on the pounds, won’t they? The answer is no!
Many people that are trying to lose weight run from carbohydrates. This should not be the case. Carbs are the first source of energy to be used by body cells. That means that foods high in fat (yes, even the ‘good’ fats) are stored as fat to be used as energy once the body runs out of other sources of energy. Starchy carbohydrates will not only satiate your body but boost your energy. If you stick to smart carbs from whole, plant-based foods, your body will use your food directly as energy rather than store your food as fat. Smart carbs include: minimally processed oats, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, sweet potatoes and brown rice.
How to Make the Change
Cutting out meat and dairy is half the battle. Next, reduce the amount of processed foods and refined carbohydrates in your daily diet. These include pastas, breads, cookies and basically anything that is not in a whole food form. Finally, make the switch from artificial and refined sugars to natural sugars derived directly from fruits.
A diet that consists of whole, plant-based foods provides all of the nutrients you need. This increases your energy levels dramatically as long as you are eating enough. Eating calorie-dense carbs, like potatoes and grains, helps to ensure you are meeting your daily calorie requirement. After making this change, you will notice a dramatic change in your energy levels almost instantly.