Goalkeepers Iron Up: Heme and Non-heme Diets and Its Effect On Goalkeeping Performance
September 29, 2005
In the off season, I’m a meat and potatoes man. Nothing whets my appetite more than a lean juicy steak every week or some lean grilled chicken breast. But there are goalkeepers and competitive athletes that do eat vegetarian diets and still perform at a high level. But at what cost? Iron intake, especially for female competitive goalkeepers can be quiet low from vegetarian type diets. Menstruating female goalkeepers require much more iron fuel competitive performance. So do vegetarian diets provide the necessary iron levels required for female or male goalkeepers to perform to their best. A lack of Iron is usually brought about the following factors:
- Physiological factors such as heavy sweating, gastrointestinal bleeding, breakdown of red blood cells and injury that results in blood loss.
- Dietary factors that include a sub-optimal intake of iron, low energy diets, vegetarian diets, fad diets or variable iron absorption from foods. (Source: Richmond, W. 2001)
Generally heavy endurance athletes will require between 7-17 mg/day (males and non menstruating females) and 16-23 mg/day (menstruating females). Heme iron sources are derived from animal sources and are the most bio available and readily absorbed source of iron. On the other hand non heme iron sources come from plants and because of its molecular structure is not as readily absorbed. Rice and Spinach only provide 1-2% iron absorption, while good old meat provides 10-20% of dietary iron absorption (Source: Burke & Deakin, 1994). To increase the level of iron from vegetarian diets there should be an increase of intake of Vitamin C with meals, and avoiding tannin rich foods like strong teas.
Over at Dietblog.com there is some suggestion that increasing the intake of foods from plant sources can help reduce the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. It has some merit. but what about competitive goalkeepers (especially female goalkeepers) who do heavy, intense training. The need for increased iron intake becomes more important. The problem may be that eating a steak can increase the chance of saturated fat clogging up the arteries. It is better for goalkeepers to eat a mixture of both heme and non heme sources of iron for better goalkeeping performance.