Can A Vegetarian Diet Cause Severe Fatigue And Lower Back Pain? Yes, It Can

Can A Vegetarian Diet Cause Severe Fatigue And Lower Back Pain? Yes, It Can

I have been on a vegetarian diet ( no eggs as well) since several months now and to be honest, I love it. Okay, let me rephrase that. My mind loves it. I have an intense sense of clarity, my daily meditation sessions are deep and intense and my mind feels lighter.

But my body disagrees strongly. Since focusing on a plant-based diet, I am tired, constantly. No matter how much I eat or how well, I am sleepy and pooped. But it didn’t start off like this. The first few months I was bursting with physical and mental energy and it was amazing! But then the phase ended and my body plummeted into a deep state of exhaustion and I am trying to recover to the best of my ability.

And because of this constant fatigue, I am craving sugar, a lot so I am trying to beat my exhaustion with anything sweet: fruits, candy, dark chocolates. But that’s not the end of it. I am also feeling a persistent and annoying lower back pain. It nagging, irritating and very uncomfortable even though I have tried yoga ( I am a yoga teacher, after all), massage, low impact workouts, high impact workouts, no workout, none have worked so far.

So from trying to stay awake at work to rubbing pain gel to my lower back daily, this change in my health made me wonder if there’s something I am doing wrong or could it be related to me turning into a vegetarian?

Why Did I Turn Vegetarian?


Mostly for moral reasons.

  • I love animals especially dogs and I wanted to adopt a plant-based diet simply because I am aware of the impact of the meat producing industry on the planet.
  • Also, because I wanted to enhance my meditation practice and make my spiritual journey a more mindful one.
  • And its just also so much healthier to eat delicious plant-based meals, right? So what’s the problem?

My body hates it and I can feel it.

What Went Wrong? Protein Deficiency!!

Protein is the glue that holds the tissues of the spine together. When you are protein deficiency, the ligaments of the joints become weak and thus, chronic lower back pain.

But Vegetarian Foods Have Protein

Yes, but its harder to obtain enough protein from a vegetarian diet and as per the website, ” vegetarian foods contain antinutrients (i.e. phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors) that reduce our ability to absorb protein. Whether it’s soy, lentils, kidney beans, wheat, or corn, these antinutrients have been shown to reduce digestion and absorption of amino acids (the smaller parts of protein) in these foods by as much as 50%”. Ouch!

Here are some facts:

  • Fish or steak contain steak or fish contain 20-30 grams of protein per 100 grams of product.
  • The main protein sources for vegans – vegetables, beans, soy, tempeh, and rice – contain only 5-20 grams of protein per 100 grams of product.

And during my quest to find a solution I came across this piece of information from

Fatty Acid
  • Also, perhaps since turning vegetarian I am not consuming enough proteins simply because 10-20% of your calories must come from.
  • If you need to get fit or want to gain muscle mass, 20-35% of your calories to come from protein.

Dealing With The Fatigue

From the all research I have conducted, nutrient deficiency due to poor absorption is the main reason vegetarians and vegans suffer from fatigue. I am dealing with this by adding supplements to my diet, especially probiotic for enhanced gut health which helps in digestion. And the most important, adding more healthy protein to my diet.

Next Steps

Even though adopting a plant-based diet has many benefits, it has its own setbacks which I am currently experiencing. Maybe I should have eased myself into the diet instead of plunging head first? I don’t know. But if you are planning to go vegetarian or vegan, my advise would be to take it easy and make changes slowly so that your body gets enough time to adapt to the changes. Kindness towards the world begins with kindness towards yourself, so always keep that in mind.

Have you experienced any physical discomfort on e vegan or vegetarian diet? I would love to hear from you!


    1. Arpan Arora

      Diet plays a huge roll in maintaining our body, our temple. As pointed out by the expert in the above blog, it not good to head dive in a particular diet. We should allow our body to decide what’s good for it by opting for a balanced, healthy diet.

      One must do some stretches as well to overcome back pain. Try bending over atleast 3-5 times a day to get the blood flowing. This is just a quick fix. For the long run, you can also try using a soft-firm or a memory foam mattress to over come the pain.


      1. Kristina Manns

        Would love an update on your back pain.
        I recent went from carnivore to vegetarian and my back is now in constant pain.


      2. Team PTCBD

        Hi Kristina, thank you for reading the article and for your question. My back pain has gotten better because I have incorporated insane amounts of protein into my diet to compensate for the lack of meat. Besides the regular protein rich beans, legumes etc, I also consume 500 ml of shake daily made from whey protein isolate. This really helps! Its challenging for sure and I have to listen to my body constantly but every time my backspin reappears, I take it as a sign that I have been slacking on my protein intake. Hope this helps!


  1. Janusz Drag

    Hello there. This article is so helpful. I have been on a vegie diet for 3 months now and after first 2 months I have started experiencing symptoms of my back pain which has gone to a constant pain night and day. Surprisingly at the same time I have started some basic yoga nearly daily which I stopped once the pain has started. I have also been fasting and eating only between 12 noon and 6PM. I have lost about 7 kg within first two months. I booked myself to a chiropractic clinic as I had no idea what was happening. I had three sessions which help a bit and after few days the pain has returned even worse.
    I have started panicking that this could be perhaps something worse and maybe I need a scan or something. I have made an appointment with a chiropractic specialist again today and discuss this issue further as my insurance covers only few sessions in a year.


    1. Team PTCBD

      Hi Janusz, thank you for sharing your experience! My back pain was also intense and no amount of yoga helped. So I doubled up on my supplements, specially Iron. Even though I was very tempted, I didn’t start having meat again but added extra protein to my plant based diet. I also incorporated eggs and lots of lentils. My back pain is gone now, thankfully!

      I hope you feel better soon and do try adding iron supplements and vegan protein shake to your diet 🙂


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