Maybe some of you remember that I posted in that I was struggling with protein as a vegetarian last September. When I am actually able to meet my protein goals, I do feel I have more energy, better workouts, etc. but I admit I haven't alsways been consistent, and I rely heavily on soy, veggie burgers, etc.
I have been vegetarian (not vegan-- I do eat dairy and eggs but don't eat them more than once a day) for almost 20 years, and it seems it's catching up with me. Over the past 3 months or so, my hair hs started falling out, my skin and eyes are dry, my nails have deep ridges in them (not new, but worse), I'm tired most of the time (need lots of caffeine!), and have weird abdominal bloating, but I am of normal weight for my height. I had more bloodwork done: iron is still very low despite taking iron supplements for half a year, thyroid numbers off, low B12, various other things flagged as low but I don't know how to interpret those. My doctor suggested a registered dietitian.
I didn't know this when I made the appointment (I was looking for a medical person who has experience with deficiencies), but the dietitian is a vegan! She was like, "I am a vegan myself; I eat no animal products. I strongly support plant-based diets, but this isn't working for you." I have to take prenatal vitamins even though I'm not pregnant, and an Omega-3 supplement (I got a fish oil one even though I don't like the idea because it's supposed to be more absorbable).
Apparently, because plant protein is less bioavailable, you need more than whatever is recommended. Those protein calculators that are .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight are the amount to prevent deficiency., and I'm barely able to even reach that.
She says that depending on the plant source, you can only absorb 25-60% of the protein in a plant food (for animal foods, it's 95% on average, sometimes 97-8%), so you have to eat a LOT to make of that, and it's too much volume. (This is why combo plant protein powders, like pea + rice, with the fiber taken out, can be helpful). As your hormones change, it's also possible for your abiltity to absorb plant protein to change. What was fine in my 20s might not be fine now in my 40s. A lot of things were fine in my 20s. I could sleep on a floor and see you 8 hours later, and now that's not happening :)
She said I need to start eating 2 dairy servings a day (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey protein, cheese) and 1 egg plus 2 whites a day on top of my regular food. This feels like a lot and I am weirdly bloated already (even though my weight is about what it normally is). Does that seem like too much dairy? Too many eggs? I am frustrated at how difficult it is. My stomach can't hold that much colume, and it seems like too many calories, AND I'm fuller because of the protein and inclined to eat less. Struggling with this morally/ethically, but strongly considering trying to eat some fish. I'm sure my omega 3s are woefully low, and it might be easier to get high quality protein that way.
Does anyone have experience with this? @skwigg I know you went totally plant based for awhile and then stopped, any thoughts? I am very frustrated and also sad that I can't deny that what is good for the environment/animals/eco footprint is not doing my health any favors.