Do you feel tired even though those consistent workouts are supposed to provide you with more energy? Low iron stores may be the culprit. Having low iron stores does not mean you are anemic but you could be one step away. An individual who has anemia does not have enough iron to produce red blood cells, which are essential in delivering oxygen to the body’s tissues. Symptoms of low iron stores can include fatigue and decreased aerobic endurance.
One study looked at the endurance level of 42 healthy women who had low iron stores but who were not anemic. The study focused on whether their iron status was negatively affecting them at the gym. Half of the women were given an iron supplement and the other half were given a placebo. They were put on a four-week exercise program where they rode a stationary bike five times a week for 30 minutes. The women who took a supplement raised their iron stores to normal and their energy levels increased as well.
If you are a vegetarian you are more likely to be at risk for low iron stores and anemia because iron is more difficult to absorb from vegetables than from meat. Although red meat is considered one of the best sources of iron other good sources of iron include beans, dried fruits, soybeans, tofu, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables. In addition, taking vitamin C with iron will help the iron absorb better.
If you are feeling unusually tired during and after workouts, first try eating more iron rich foods. If that does not help, ask your doctor for a serum ferritin blood test, which will measure your total iron. If your blood test shows you have low iron, then an iron supplement may be needed but ONLY under the recommendation of a doctor.