Vegetarian Wants Energy Diet & Supplements

57 yr old vegetarian woman lacks energy, needs advice on diet, protein, nutritional supplements

Tired Woman

Message for Savvy Vegetarian:

I have been vegetarian, in various stages, for 35 years. I have 2 reasons for writing.

1) I have been out of work for 3 years. I have a cupboard full of dhals, beans and split beans that I have had for years – I don’t even know how long and some them I don’t know what they are. Can I still use them? Maybe with longer soaking time? I would use them in soup or stew.

2) For 2 of my years out of work, I went back to college (I am now 57; graduated in May). Due to a blog I read yesterday I came to realize that I have not been eating quality protein – possibly for all the last 3 years.

The blogger mentioned that it took quite some time to notice an increase in energy (my main problem).

I would like to use a supplement to boost my energy until I get my diet back on track. Can you suggest a supplement and an initial diet? I would be much beholden. – P.W.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Hi P. W. Congratulations on graduating at age 57! I’m sorry you’ve been unemployed for 3 years, and I hope that changes soon. More energy would definitely help.

Regarding the legumes that you’ve had for years: I also have had some legumes for years, stored in glass jars in a cool cupboard. As long as they don’t look or smell bad, I would use them.

They could need extra soaking (probably double) and longer cooking. If it’s hot in your kitchen, try soaking in the fridge. If you don’t know what they are, go to a natural food store that sells bulk beans, and do a bit of detective work. Or search online for a site with pictures of beans, such as Athena Foods.

Regarding your lack of energy: it’s possible that a lack of quality protein isn’t actually the culprit.

It could be not enough calories, or poor nutrition in general, which means there could be several possible deficiencies. Nutrition is holistic and synergistic – all the nutrients work together for good health and energy.

My advice is to get tested for Vit D, Vit B12, and iron deficiencies. Any of those would affect your energy levels dramatically. It’s a good idea for anyone over 50 whether vegetarian or not to supplement with Vit D & Vit B12.

Calcium & Vit C deficiencies are possible, but those are plentiful in a healthy varied diet with plenty of fruit and green veg.


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While you’re getting those deficiency tests, get a few other routine tests if you can: cholesterol, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, hormones for example, just to rule out other problems.

Protein: Many people I know boost their protein intake by adding protein powder to smoothies, along with other ingredients such as non-dairy milk or yogurt, green veg, fruit, ground chia seeds, nut butters.

You could also add nuts & seeds & non-dairy milks to grains or breakfast cereals. Hummus is a great energy booster to have in your fridge, with a good balance of fat, carbs & protein. Yummy in a sandwich or wrap, or with chips or crackers.


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It’s easy for a vegetarian to get enough quality protein, by eating enough calories from a good variety of whole foods: whole grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, a little added oil, lots and lots of fruit and veggies, very little sugar and processed foods.

Please read the article How to Get Enough Protein in Your Vegetarian Diet.

I repeat: It’s important to eat a high quality whole foods diet with a big variety of fresh foods, for optimum vegetarian health, with minimal supplementation, e.g. Vit D and B12 separately and possibly a one-a-day multi-vitamin.

That’s according to the veg nutrition bible, Becoming Vegetarian, by Melina and Davis, and I also cover those basics in my Vegetarian Nutrition Report.

Please consider consulting a veg-friendly dietitian or nutritionist for help designing the best diet for you. That’s a job that’s far beyond my qualifications!

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