WHY YOUTH ATHLETES NEED IRON
We’re excited to have Sport’s Nutritionist Kate Feely guest posting on the #YADacademy blog today, utilising her extensive knowledge base to chat with you guys about all things nutrition and sport. Thanks, Kate! We’ll have to get you back again to share more of your expertise with us all soon!
An incredibly important nutrient for adolescent athletes and sports performance is iron. The role of iron is to transport oxygen around your body, which is crucial to perform to the best of your ability.
Iron deficiency is quite a common issue with endurance athletes, however, it is reasonably easy to sort out. The diagnosis of an iron deficiency needs to be made through a blood test, as this will look at the exact levels of iron in your blood, as well as your iron stores. Supplementation under guidance from your GP or Sport’s Dietician can then be recommended.
But how do you know if you need to get your iron levels checked to begin with?
A common symptom of iron deficiency is poor energy levels, not training well as a result of fatigue, constantly feeling short of breath during training, interrupted sleep and easy bruising.
Looking over your diet with a Sport’s Dietician will mean you are able to identify whether you are consuming enough iron-rich foods in your diet. These include red meats, chicken, leafy green vegetables and legumes. In saying that, though, your body is better at absorbing iron from animal protein (haem iron), rather than plant-based products (non-haem iron).
It’s also important to keep in mind that vitamin c aids iron absorption, and calcium inhibits it. So, try to keep your calcium-rich products (such as dairy) away from your iron-rich foods. For example, don’t have a glass of milk alongside a steak dinner. Make sure to have plenty of vegetables alongside protein-heavy foods. A glass of orange juice is an easy way to get some extra energy in alongside your protein, and a dose of vitamin c too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Feely from Fitness with Food is an Accredited Sports Dietician that has worked with a number of athletes over the years, ranging from adolescents to masters age in a variety of sports at amateur to elite level. She is passionate about nutrition and takes a real balanced approach, so you enjoy what you are eating and are still able to maintain a healthy relationship with food. During her school years Kate competed at State and National level in Cross Country and Athletics, so she knows firsthand how important it is to get your nutrition on track. She continues to run, but nowadays prefers longer distances and has completed 10km runs, half marathons and full marathons, and is now beginning to give triathlons a go. Kate specialises in sports nutrition, gut health and disordered eating. You can visit Kate’s website here.