Many female athletes have at one point during their training been iron deficient or anemic and may have not even known. Athletes with low iron stores or iron deficiency anemia often find that their training becomes difficult and their paces get slower.
The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Having a Harder Time With Endurance Training
- Disinterest in Exercise
- Frequently Getting Sick
Female endurance athletes are susceptible to iron deficiency anemia because:
- Blood Lost During Menstruation
- Iron Lost in Sweat/Excessive Sweating
- High Demand for Iron Due to an Increase in Training Difficulty
- For Endurance Athletes that Don’t Eat Meat, it is Difficult to Get Enough Iron Regularly.
It is important for an athlete of any level to pay attention to these warning signs and recognize when they should focus on adding more iron to their diet. And no…you don’t have to be a carnivor to get the iron your body needs; iron is available in several types of food you may have not even thought of.
Below are a list of foods you can quickly add to a meal to help increase your iron intake!
Make a spinach salad to go with dinner and easily add more iron to your diet.
Make a trail mix with dried apricots and raisins to take on the go when you’re driving around kids or walking from class to class on campus.
There is a delicious pack of lentils at Costco called Madras Lentils that come in an easy to cook microwaveable bag and taste delicious!
High Quality Dark Chocolate
Simple break off a piece for dessert or melt it and pour it over ice cream, either way it is a delicious way to get more iron.
For those days you just don’t have time to cook a fancy meal, most cereals are enriched with iron and can be a quick breakfast or snack that might just help you with your training.
Seafood & Poultry
For those avoiding red meat but still eating poultry and seafood, these are great iron-rich options that are easy to prep for dinner. Everything from smoked salmon to a oven chicken casserole meets the mark for this iron source.
Did you know you need Vitamin C too?
That Vitamin C helps with the body’s absorption of iron? So try adding a few of these Vitamin C-rich foods to the same meal and increase your iron absorption at the same time!
- Leafy Greens
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