Reversing Iron Depletion

Parkview Sports Medicine

​Reversing Iron Depletion

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.

Understanding Iron

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

At-risk Athletes

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; fruit yogurt

  • 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

Contact Us

For more information, or to schedule a sports nutrition consultation, call (260) 266-4007.

Parkview Sports Medicine

Services provided at AWP Sports Training –
Located within the SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse
3946 Ice Way, Fort Wayne, IN 46808
and on The Summit Campus
1025 W. Rudisill Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN 46807


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