There are some things that are important to understand before you begin transitioning to a plant-based diet. To avoid having low energy and to ensure feeling your best, we have created a resource that you can turn to in the event you feel you are falling short, or are unsure about something. The following text will highlight the pitfalls of most diets, but specifically what you should be sure to maintain awareness of until things become second nature. There is a learning curve to everything and we completely understand how much easier things can be when the experience of someone who has already been through it to share.
Believe it or not, the question of, "can I have coffee or tea on a plant-based diet" is more common than you think. The short answer is yes, of course, but there is more to be understood about the masking effect of caffeinated beverages. What I mean by that is, if you have a deficiency, or if you are not getting enough sleep every night, the easiest way to overlook the signs is by drinking coffee or tea as your source of energy and stamina. Stimulants should never be your sole source of energy, or the thing you are dependant upon to get through the week. A proper nutritionally balanced diet, with a good night sleep, and plenty of water is all that the body needs to maintain optimal energy levels.
Tea or Coffee?
Herbals teas, for the most part, contain no caffeine whatsoever and are fine to consume regularly. If faced with the decision of coffee or tea, we recommend drinking organic green tea because of its rich source of antioxidants. Coffee can contain some level of antioxidants, but nowhere near what's packed into a cup of green tea. Coffee is not bad for you per se, but other than being a warm cup of deliciousness, it doesn't offer much more than it's caffeine. We do completely understand the comfort and pleasure you may experience while drinking coffee, which is why it isn't added to the list of foods to avoid. Enjoy it from time to time but also recognize when it becomes a crutch.
A well planned, balanced plant-based diet should supply your body with most of the nutrients it needs to be and stay healthy. However, there are other vitamins that are harder to come by and everyone, vegan or not, can benefit from taking them in supplement form.
Low B12 levels can result in a type of anemia that makes a person feel tired in weak. Taking a daily b12 supplement will ensure proper levels are being met and deficiencies are avoided. B12 sublinguals (taken under the tongue) are cheap and easy to come by making them even more convenient to use regularly.
Zinc can be found in a variety of different plants and levels can often be met easily with a well-balanced diet. For times of travel or when food choices become poor, zinc lozenges can be a great and tasty way to meet your daily requirements.
Iodine is the mineral responsible for proper thyroid function. Iodine is incredibly easy to get enough of if you consume seaweed, or use granulated seaweed to sprinkle on your food- you won't even know you're eating it!
Salt + Sugar
Avoiding processed foods as much as possible will be the easiest way to avoid high amounts of salt and sugar. The reason we seek to avoid these two ingredients is because excess amounts will inevitably lead to lethargy. A meal or snack high in refined or processed (not in whole food state) sugars will spike your blood sugar significantly, then crash it down to at which point you will feel exhaustion. Excess salt in the diet will deplete your potassium levels leading to fatigue and exhaustion.
Use stevia or whole fruits to sweeten meals and dishes. If using a processed sugar like cane sugar is unavoidable, keep amounts low and consume blueberries with, before, or after the meal to help blunt blood sugar spikes.
To avoid excess salts, avoid eating out, limit sodium intake per meal, and use ingredients like sea vegetables and miso for a salty taste. If high sodium is unavoidable, do your best to replenish potassium levels with foods like avocado, banana, kiwi, or coconut water.
Not eating enough food is the quickest way to feel absolutely miserable. Remember that whole plant foods are mostly low in calories and have to be consumed in larger quantities in order to meet dietary guidelines for most people. One example I like to give people is the cow. Cows are completely vegan, they only eat grass, which at first sounds crazy, but then we realize the sheer volume of grass they eat in a day and it all makes sense. Cows eat massive amounts of grass constantly throughout the day to meet their caloric requirements (muchhh higher than ours).
Missing Or Skipping Meals: Blood Sugar
You may have heard the term "intermittent fasting before", and while this process works for many people, it does not work for everyone and it is very important to realize that. If you find that by skipping breakfast you feel lethargic, brain fog, or just plain tired, you should try eating something upon rising to carry you into your afternoon meal. If you are on a properly planned weight loss program where calories are restricted, it is still important to make sure your nutritional needs are being met.
Overall, a properly balanced vegan diet with an emphasis on eating a variety of whole plant foods should make you feel great! Minimal supplementing will go a long way in keeping your energy levels balanced and your stress levels low knowing you are doing well for yourself. For additional tips on making the most out of your vegan diet, check our meal planner. If you could benefit from additional protein in your diet, please feel free to check out the formulations we have created using only the cleanest, USDA Organic ingredients.