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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I balance my iron count with exercise and diet?

    I have recently been told I have very low iron count (single figures) but I have been attending Weight Watchers for two years. I have lost 20 kilos and have established a regular exercise habit which I love but now feel very lethargic some days and find it hard to push myself to maintain level of exercise.

    I have slowed down instead of improving as I was before becoming anaemic whereas I want to look after myself. I do not want to lose the habit of exercise, what would your advice be…taking iron tablets?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    First of all congratulations on your 20kg weight loss with Weight Watchers, that's an acheivement in itself. I would suggest you go and see your doctor first before commencing iron supplementation. Many people tend to over-supplement with iron which can lead to toxic effects on the liver and can cause digestive issues such as abdominal cramping and constipation.

    I am curious as to your comment “I have slowed down instead of improving”. I would like to know more detail about your diet before making any recommendations. In the meantime, I would suggest that you include iron rich foods in your diet such as the following:

    • lean red meat 3-4 x a week
    • whole-grain cereals fortified with iron
    • vegetables such as spinach, kale, and other green leafy vegetables (consume with a source of vitamin C to enhance iron absorption)
    • nuts and seeds
    • dried fruits

    Another thing to consider is that your diet may not be suitable to your level of exercise. As exercise intensity increases so too does our bodies reliance on carbohydrates to provide the necessary fuel for our muscles to function. You may need to increase your carbohydrate intake a little to support your exercise regime. For more detailed and tailored advice, I would recommend you seek the advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). You can find an APD at www.daa.asn.au. I hope this helps and good luck :)

  • jf58

    HealthShare Member

    thank you excellent advice I am seeing my Dr re problem and he recommended Iron with vitamin C and I am having other test but a dietican is great idea I will work on thanks J

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