Has your athletic performance been declining, despite increased training?
Do you persistently feel tired or moody, and find it hard to concentrate?
If so, you could be suffering from
iron depletion – the No. 1 nutritional deficiency in the world.
Iron is an essential nutrient. It helps carry oxygen from your lungs to
your working muscles, playing a significant role in your performance as
an athlete. Low iron levels can be detrimental to your performance, whereas
sufficient iron levels can help boost your performance.
Symptoms of low iron levels include:
- Fatigue that worsens with exertion
- Breathlessness or feeling abnormally winded during sports or exercise
- Decrease in performance, especially a sudden decrease
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Poor concentration
- Moodiness or irritability
- Always feeling cold and unable to tolerate ice treatments
Although any athlete can develop iron deficiency, certain athletes do fall
into high-risk categories:
- Female athletes are susceptible because they lose iron through menstruation.
Additionally, female athletes usually consume fewer calories overall,
compared to male athletes, which means they are less likely to have an
adequate iron intake.
- Athletes who restrict their caloric intake often do not include enough
iron in their diet, unless they focus on eating iron-enriched foods.
- Because iron from plant sources is difficult for the body to absorb, vegetarian
athletes can have greater difficulty consuming enough iron to support
their workout regimens.
Iron-enriched Meal Plans
A balanced diet that contains iron-enriched foods is the best way to maintain
adequate iron levels. Here are some menu options that provide you with
adequate iron and are easy to prepare:
Non-vegetarian meal plan:
Breakfast: Bagel with margarine and strawberry jelly; two hard-boiled eggs; orange juice
Lunch: Soup containing meat and/or beans; grilled cheese sandwich on wheat bread;
Snack: Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and chocolate
Dinner: Sliced roast beef or chicken tenderloins; spinach salad with assorted
vegetables and vinaigrette dressing; blueberry muffin; grapefruit juice
Vegetarian meal plan:
Breakfast: One cup iron-fortified cereal; one cup skim or soy milk; orange juice
Lunch: Spinach salad with sunflower seeds and Italian dressing; veggie burger
with cheese on a wheat bun; fruit yogurt
Snack: Two oatmeal raisin cookies
Dinner: Broccoli stir fry with fried brown rice; one cup rice; one cup ice cream
For more information, or to schedule a sports nutrition consultation, call