Iron For Runners + Friday Favorites #8

  Oct 7, 2016  |  #Favorites

Good morning, loves!  How was your week?? I have some highlights from mine in the typical friday fashion, but first I wanted to talk a little bit about iron.

This is something I’ve actually talked with many clients about recently. And, it’s also something I’ve been keeping a diligent watch over with my increase in running for marathon training.

Iron is so important for many of our body functions, including transporting oxygen throughout our body. Iron is a component of the protein hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in our red blood cells, which supply oxygen to our working muscles when we run.


Knowing that, it is apparent how low iron levels could lead to decreased performance and shortness of breath. While my hemoglobin, hematocrit (% of red blood cells) and ferritin (iron storage) lab values were normal at my last check up, that was before I upped my running. I still remain hypervigilant about it.

Why Runners Need More Iron

Since running involves a lot of pounding, the impact of the foot striking can lead to the hemolysis (damaging) of red blood cells.

Runners also lose iron through sweat,  GI tract/digestion losses, and menstruation (female runners). Sweat can be tricky as we are heading into the cooler weather, because we may not realize we are sweating as much. Nonetheless, it’s still important to consider it as a source of iron loss. This is a great resource about sweat and hydration!

Best Food Sources of Iron

  • Lean meat, seafood, eggs (with yolk)
  • Legumes, lentils (try this and this), fortified grains and breakfast cereals
  • Nuts, dried fruit
  • Soy (try this or this)
  • Veggies (mainly spinach/dark greens, potatoes, peas)
  • Cooking in cast iron skillets! (Yes, the iron from the skillet can be absorbed into your food)

high iron meals, iron for runners high iron meals, iron for runners

Also, keep in mind that Vitamin C helps our body absorb more iron, particularly from plant sources. So, if you’re eating spinach (or meat), you could add some broccoli, red bell peppers or tomatoes to boost absorption.

spinach salad with chicken, iron for runners

Alternatively, coffee, tea and foods high in calcium can all interfere with and decrease iron absorption, so it’s best to space out your iron foods with calcium food sources or supplements.

Years ago when I was trying to increase my iron, I thought it would work by taking a multivitamin supplement. Well, there are so many things that can work against the iron in that supplement. Moral of the story is if you’re low in iron, it’s best to take a specific iron supplement separate from when you’re taking a multivitamin, calcium supplement or eating calcium rich foods.

Signs You May Be Low in Iron

  • Spoon-shaped nails or brittle nails
  • Cracked lips
  • Pale appearance
  • Feeling fatigued or more sluggish than usual
  • Experiencing shortness of breath (low hemoglobin, as previously discussed)
  • You crave non food items (like dirt, ice, or clay)

Women typically need 18mg of iron per day. That increases during pregnancy, for runners, and those with heavy periods.  To put that in perspective, here are amounts per serving:

White beans – 8mg
Oysters – 8mg
1/2 cup lentils – 3mg
1/2 cup spinach – 3mg
Beef – 2mg
White poultry – 1mg
Green peas, potatoes, nuts, whole wheat bread, eggs, tuna – 1 mg

Essentially, the take away is to ensure that you are eating a varied diet, and each meal you have a source of protein (meat, seafood, beans or legumes). And include those Vitamin C superstars as much as you can to increase absorption!

Friday Favorites

Here are some of the highlights, favorites and yummies from the week!

The Chopped Podcast

chopped podcast

I learn so much and get so inspired through each episode. It’s great for food bloggers out there!

Babalu’s . If you’re in/near Charlotte, you have to go here! It’s where Cantina used to be on East Blvd, which is one of my favorite foodie areas in Charlotte. It’s down the street from Bakersfield, Summit Room, Kid Cashew and Mayobird.

Babalu tacos

Cooking with freekah for the first time! Paired with salmon patties, broccoli, greens and nutritional yeast.

Freekehlicious, Freekeh

And, my puppy photo of the week. So obsessed.



Pumpkin Spiced Donut Coconut Butter. Ahhh, the limited editions always get me!

I love iced coffee. I love cookies. So, I can only imagine the combo together is brilliant.

The colors here have me swooning.

Say whatttt? <– Sign me up.

And, my favorite “at home” creation were these stuffed squashes! I’m on a goal to stuff squash with anything I can get my hands on. Join me?

stuffed squash


[Tweet “Why #runners need more #iron and the best way to get it! #runchat #rdchat @bucketlisttumRD”]

Health Reads

5 Ways to Beat Sugar Cravings <–I love the planned indulgences part. I often talk with clients about planning for, and allowing themselves that treat.

4 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Fear Carbs <– Just the fact that they increase serotonin should be a big “duh” moment.

Great pantry staples to have on hand for a hurricane


We saw Girl on the Train last night! I liked it, but as expected, I liked the book better. Do you plan on seeing it? Be safe this weekend!

Do you generally like the books or movies better?

Favorite taco toppings?



Grab your FREE list of the most nutritious post-run foods to refuel your body and muscles. No spam here, promise.

14 responses to “Iron For Runners + Friday Favorites #8

  1. Thanks for those handy iron tips! It was a huge problem for me when I was vegetarian a few years ago (am no longer now) but definitely something I need to still be aware of.

    I really enjoyed the book Girl on the Train and was curious about the movie! My fav taco toppings… guacamole and salsa. I also love frying up onions and peppers to put inside, maybe some roasted sweet potatoes too. And now I am hungry!

  2. This is so interesting and definitely something runners need to be careful about. I think I am ok right now- I eat lots of foods with iron and am not running very much- but its something to keep in mind at whatever point I get back to marathon training!

  3. Great reminder about the iron! 90% of the time after I finish a race or long run I find myself craving meat (and I usually eat meat only 1-2 times/month) and I always attribute to my inner cravings for iron! Love Freekah and experimenting with new grains!

  4. Those stuffed squashes are so cute, and I didn’t realize that iron was so important for runners. It’s amazing how God has made our bodies to need all those different balances of nutrients. I think I”m probably ok on iron because I don’t have any of those symptoms, but maybe I will try to eat more iron rich foods?

  5. Yay for freekeh! I really want salmon patties now too! I haven’t had salmo nin such a long time! Gotta restock on my nutritional yeast supply too–I ran out of that last weekend when I was making cheeseless pizza. :O

    That poodle is adorable. <3

  6. Iron is SO important! I never actually realised just how important it was until my body stopped absorbing it (as a result of damage from undiagnosed coeliac!) and I needed iron infusions and a body without iron is notttttttt a fun experience 😛

    As for favourite taco toppings. I’m happy with anything as long as there’s guac on top 😉

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