I have been eating vegan, plant-based for two years. The physical transformation and healing of my body have been unbelievable. But within the past couple of months, I have experienced increasing fatigue. Why? This week, I had an annual physical with a new primary care provider [I relocated to Florida]. Much to my surprise, she also specializes in weight loss, no surgical bariatric procedures. All of my lab work was normal, except for Vitamin D [found a vegan supplement].
As I relayed reaching a weight loss plateau and feeling more fatigued since relocating, my Dr. began to ask about my dietary intake. When I responded that I was vegan, plant-based, we explored my sources of protein. I eat legumes, nuts, my own recipes for veggie burgers, and nut-loafs. However, when looking up the nutritional value of the legumes and nuts, I was amazed at the low count of grams of protein in a serving.
The question, “What changes have you made this year in your diet? I gave up all prepared veggie meat substitutes…too high in sodium, and reading the last five or six ingredients, I am not interested in feeding my body with things that I cannot pronounce. Still, my protein intake was only 25% of what my body required.
And over time, a lack of protein can make you lose muscle mass, which in turn cuts your strength, makes it harder to keep your balance, and slows your metabolism. It can also lead to anemia when your cells don’t get enough oxygen, which makes you tired. WebMD.
Adding to the equation of increasing my protein intake is my pre-diabetes diagnosis. Nope, I did not care for my body for five decades, and now my pancreas will not secrete enough insulin for a carb overload.
Last year, through research of credible resources, I have changed my lifestyle to lose additional weight and develop discipline. I have incorporated daily intermittent fasting for the past year, which means I only eat two meals a day with a fruit snack. If I am not hungry, then I can’t eat.
But my physician is impressive. She does not take the cookie-cutter approach with her patients. Instead, we developed a patient-focused life plan to increase my protein intake, eliminate fatigue, incorporate daily exercise, and facilitate further weight loss.
Goal: 100 grams of protein and limit carb intake to 100 grams daily.
Plan: Incorporate a plant-based, no-whey protein shake 1-2 times a day made with almond milk. Choose legumes and nuts that have the lowest carb intake–still exploring my options. So far, almonds, avocados [she is a fruit], and black beans are at the top of the list. Also, use an app (Lose it) that identifies the nutritional value of the foods that you eat.
Outcome: Within four days, I have lost four lbs, and I have my energy level back. Awakened, ready to take on the world and did an early morning walk.
I have been asked the question, “What does one eat when following a plant-based diet?” There are endless possibilities. I can assure you that my food intake is not mundane. I never eat food prepared the same way. You do not have to have the skills of a chef, but you have to have an open mind and explore your creativity.
Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself
©2021 Sonya Johnson