In this blog post I wanted to highlight how important it is with a diet focusing on iron.
It’s not going to be about kcals, weight loss or weight gain, more about making sure you get all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function and what it can do to you performance in sport. I will refer to myself a lot since i’ve experienced it and it never crossed my mind that something was lacking in my nutrition.
What does Iron do?
Iron is responsible for hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin is responsible for helping red blood cells transfer oxygen to the muscles.
Iron deficiency anemia.
If your Iron level drops significantly you become anemic. (iron deficiency anemia)
Some of the Symptoms.
- Short of breath
- Increased heart rate
Decrease in performance.
What happened to me? I was coming back to running after a stubborn Achilles injury. I noticed my HR was 20 bpm higher than what it should of been on an easy run. When I couldn’t run due to the injury I added extra bike and swim sessions. I should not have been less fit as a consequence however I started to notice I could not hold the same watts on the bike and the swim times went down and I was completely done after a moderate amount of training. Eventually I had enough and did a blood test. It came back with the result I had iron deficiency anemia. That explained everything! I however could not figure out why.
Reasons for Iron deficiency and Iron deficiency anemia.
- Blood loss
- Not enough Iron in your food
- Hard training and thus losing more vitamin and minerals than normal.
- Or a combination
Red meat is the best source of iron and the body can absorb Iron from meat better than plant based iron. I then realised I haven’t been eating any read meat for a couple of months. Not on purpose but without noticing i had moved more towards chicken mostly, a lot of pulses and vegetables. Similar to what i have written in the beginning – hitting the protein, carb and fats doesn’t guarantee you get all the vitamin and minerals that the body needs.