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Pump Some Iron

August 26, 2012

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all having a nice weekend! I’m trying to enjoy my last day of summer today, and it’s going to be a good one since I have a book club meet-up with some Chicago bloggers! We read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, so get ready for a book review this upcoming week!

Today, however, is about getting IRON! And no, I’m not talking about lifting weights (although that’s very important! Check out Annette’s post on why strength training is important for endurance athletes). I’m talking about Fe: atomic number 26, a metal in the first transition series (so wikipedia-ed that, as if I remember all this from being a Chem minor…).

Iron plays a very important role in the human body: Iron is a necessary trace element found in nearly all living organisms. Iron-containing enzymes and proteins, often containing heme prosthetic groups, participate in many biological oxidations and in transport. Examples of proteins found in higher organisms include hemoglobin, cytochrome (see high-valent iron), and catalase. (source).

In other words, it helps to transport oxygen through your blood. This is why people who are low in iron (ME!) tend to feel fatigued easily – we aren’t getting enough oxygen transported to our cells!

During my mid-week run, I came a  realization: I am low in iron right now! Back in the spring I had several blood tests done which revealed that I was very low in iron and hemoglobin. I focused on eating iron-rich foods and took supplements for a little while (they upset my stomach) and my levels started to reach normal. I kept focusing on eating iron rich food (mostly in the form of eggs and other meats) but I realized that over the last month or so I really let that slide. During my 9 mile run (it was supposed to be 8… which I didn’t realize until I went to check it off my training schedule… oops), I kept having the symptoms that I had while training in the spring: fatigue, increased heart rate, and a constant overwhelming desire to stop and rest.

Now that I realize I must be low in iron again (don’t really want to go back in for blood tests to clarify this…) I’m going to re-focus on getting iron-rich food to get myself back on track!

Here is a list of High-Iron foods from WebMD:

To boost the amount of iron in your diet, try these foods:

  • Red meat
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards)
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins)
  • Iron-enriched cereals and grains (check the labels)
  • Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
  • Turkey or chicken giblets
  • Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
  • Liver
  • Artichokes

And here’s a tip: If you eat iron-rich foods along with foods that provide plenty of vitamin C, your body can better absorb the iron.


Turkey or chicken giblets?!?! Sign me up! Haha totally kidding. The American Red Cross also has a great list of iron-rich foods! Personally, I plan to get my iron mostly from egg yolks and dark, leafy greens. I’ve already looked up some delicious looking recipes incorporating eggs!

**All images found on webpage where I linked to the recipe!**

Spinach Sweet Potato Egg Nests from PaleOMG

egg nests5

Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Bake from PaleOMG

egg bake4

My own oats with a whole egg

photo (23)

Cheesy Quinoa Quiche by Hungry Hungry Hippie

Two Ingredient Pancakes by Carrots N Cake

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And my favorite way: egg on top of a sweet potato!

photo (1)


Are you conscious of getting enough iron?

What are your favorite egg or leafy green recipes? Link up!


Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian, doctor, nurse or medical specialist! If you have any concerns about your health or want to change your diet, please consult your physician. I am not an expert! These are merely my own experiences and opinions.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2012 6:56 am

    Some food I have to try there! It all looks amazing 🙂

  2. Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale permalink
    August 26, 2012 7:35 am

    Hmm. Now there’s some food for thought on a Sunday morning!! 🙂
    Actually, I’ve been meaning to go see my doctor to get my iron levels checked again, they were super low, then supplements (which messed with my tummy too!) brought them back up, but I as though they might have fallen again … Thanks for reminding me! I think this is an issue that goes undiagnosed a lot of the time and we’re suffering for no reason when we are able to help ourselves to a cure (for the most part, other than extreme cases).
    Have a great last day of summer Katie!! 🙂

  3. August 26, 2012 7:55 am

    I also have a low iron deficiency. My favorite egg recipe is an egg sandwich. I make it with egg beaters because I really dont know how to cook an egg (its pathetic I know). See you later today

    • August 26, 2012 11:10 am

      lol just put the egg in a pan and let it cook, flip it if you want to. Haha trial and error

  4. August 26, 2012 8:25 am

    A very good, useful post, thank you. Iron is something I have always been aware of needing, but I never link feeling fatigued with potential low levels. I am trying to eat more eggs (for protein too) and need to keep chugging spinach smoothies as it’s so easy… not to bother!

  5. August 26, 2012 8:53 am

    after you posted your 9 mile time on twitter i went back and checked the schedule because i thought i hadn’t run long enough lol!

    that’s so awesome that you are that in tune with your body. i’m not too worried about my iron right now since i’ve been eating so much spinach in my protein shakes, but there have definitely been times int he past where i have been super low on iron and this post is awesome for ideas on how to combat that.

  6. August 26, 2012 9:22 am

    Great post and info! I recently read a statistic that expressed that majority of woman do not intake enough iron. Just one more thing for us girls to think about!

  7. August 26, 2012 9:49 am

    I always try to make sure I get enough iron–mainly in the form of spinach, beans, oats and other whole grains, tempeh, tofu, and iron-fortified soymilk. Of course, I know that there is a different between heme and non-heme iron, and that since I am a vegetarian, the iron in plant foods is always non-heme–which is supposedly less well absorbed by your body. But I have also done some research, and discovered the the iron in animal products is absorbed by your body regardless of whether you need it or not, which CAN (but not always!) lead to iron overdoses. Just food for thought–I am NOT trying to criticize meat-eaters at all!!! I know that many people have trouble getting enough iron, especially women. On another note, I have read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and it was a very interesting and thought-provoking book. I hope you enjoy it!

  8. August 26, 2012 9:52 am

    I think you have great focus on trying to find foods that are rich in iron. I know those supplements really hurt people’s stomach, so it is good you are focusing on what you can do.

    • August 26, 2012 11:16 am

      haha yea, I’d way rather eat a ton of spinach and eggs than take that supplement again!

  9. August 26, 2012 10:16 am

    My iron levels are all over the place. I have slightly low iron levels but what’s more concerning is that my red blood cells don’t carry enough iron and they turn over quickly. I have to take supplements for it (mainly because I can’t eat eggs and don’t eat meat) and have blood draws every so often to make sure my iron levels aren’t dropping too much. I also have had to drink a ton of aloe-based beverages to make sure I wasn’t bleeding internally (I’m not).

    I try to eat a lot of dark leafy greens, beans, and oats to get my iron intake. It can be tricky but it’s worth the extra effort to not feel lethargic.

  10. Sienna permalink
    August 26, 2012 10:25 am

    Good luck getting your extra iron. It definitely sounds like a good idea. I recently was told I have slightly low iron leves. I’m in the process right now of testing if I’m deficient from not eating enough foods with iron or due to absorption issues. I find it hard to eat meat and eggs daily so I’ve gone the supplement route so far. As long as I take them with food my stomach has luckily been ok.

    • August 26, 2012 11:18 am

      that’s good that they don’t bother your stomach! It really bothered me only 1 week in! I had to stop after 2 weeks, I just couldn’t take it anymore!

  11. commitcomplete permalink
    August 26, 2012 11:09 am

    I just wanted to add that dark chocolate is also a good(and yummy) source of iron. Sauteed spinach with lemon juice, garlic, and pepper is my go-to leafy green recipe.

  12. August 26, 2012 5:07 pm

    Such a great informative post! I keep on meaning to get my iron levels checked because I know it’s common for women to have low levels. I eat tons of leafy greens, beans and eggs though and I have red meat once a week, so I hope that means my levels are ok!

    • August 26, 2012 6:26 pm

      I’m sure they’re fine! I found out because I had a lot of fatigue and had my blood tested for several things.

  13. August 26, 2012 5:41 pm

    I don’t usually focus on my iron levels – it probably wouldn’t hurt to get that checked out, would it?

    Love the eggs/sweet potato combo. Amazing 🙂

  14. August 26, 2012 5:57 pm

    Great meeting you today! I just realized we didn’t really talk about the book so I’m looking forward to your review.

    I tried to make that two ingredient pancake on Saturday morning and failed miserably. Please update us on how it works for you. Also, an egg on a sweet potato? That sounds amazing! Totally trying that for breakfast this week.

    • August 26, 2012 6:25 pm

      Haha I’m nervous to try the 2 ingredient pancake since she added specific instructions into another post, sounded like people were having a hard time re-creating it!

  15. Harry permalink
    August 26, 2012 8:54 pm

    This was very interesting. I need to remember this for hiking next year. Anything that can help with the absorption of oxygen is good for high altitude.

  16. elise permalink
    August 26, 2012 9:26 pm

    ah. the HeLa cell has always intrigued me… cant wait to hear how the book was.

    ps re iron, dont forget pumpkin seeds and molasses
    pps that quinoa quiche is pretty much my fave recipe ever. 🙂

  17. elise permalink
    August 26, 2012 9:27 pm

    oh and theres iron in quinoa too

  18. August 27, 2012 7:11 am

    I’m very concious of the iron thing too, one of the reasons that I’ve been uping my eggs too! Love eggs and sweet potatoes, that’s what I’m planning on having for dinner later 🙂

  19. August 27, 2012 11:51 am

    I struggle with my iron. It is usually on the low side. I take a multi and still tend to be low. My sister has had times she is incredibly low. I take a supplement, however not really under the guidance of a doctor. I don’t recommend this but I can’t afford to pay for a doctor at the moment and I feel better when I take one. Great recipes!!

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