Athlete’s Anemia Diet

Athlete's Anemia Diet


The so-called Thirteen-Iacoponi-Arcelli diet is a particular diet developed for anemic athletes or athletes with a tendency to iron deficiency anemia (or iron deficiency anemia ) .

This problem is particularly prevalent among so-called “cross-country athletes” – such as marathon runners , triathletes, professional cyclists, etc. – because:

  • increased iron losses induced by physical activity (increased sweating , faster turnover of red blood cells , micro – haemorrhages induced by physical activity, etc.);
  • poor tolerance to specific iron supplements , due to the intestinal problems associated with them.

The problem of iron deficiency anemia is greater for females than for males, considering the periodic losses of iron linked to the menstrual flow and the less rich diet .

The athlete’s anemia causes a drop in performance, with a sense of exhaustion , easy fatigue and difficulty in recovery.

If you have anemia, your erythrocytes ( red blood cells), hematocrit , and hemoglobin are low or very low.

What to eat

It is about taking iron-rich meat or offal together with vitamin C supplements , alone , on an empty stomach and without drinks (such as tea or coffee which would hinder iron absorption ).

Why the meat

Heme iron ( that of meat , including preserved and fishery products ) is always more absorbable than non-heme iron (that present in foods of plant origin).

Why VITAMIN C, why fasting

There are factors that hinder the absorption of iron and factors that favor it.

  • HINDER THE ABSORPTION OF IRON: phytates , phosphates , sulphates , oxalates , carbonates and tannins (from wine , coffee and tea ), which form insoluble complexes with iron that are difficult to absorb.
  • PROMOTE THE ABSORPTION OF IRON: the antioxidant substances , the acidity of the stomach and above all the Vitamin C.

It is therefore important for the anemic athlete to pay attention to food combinations .


In detail

  • Take on an empty stomach (that is at least two hours after a previous meal) a plate of lean meat , more or less cooked or according to taste ; for example 100-150 grams of liver or the same amount of horse steak , or 200-250 grams of beef , pork , chicken or rabbit
  • on the meat it is allowed to squeeze lemon, even in abundance;
  • at the same time as the meat, take vitamin C, in rigid tablets or, better, in sachets to be dissolved in water;
  • do not take anything else: avoid both solid foods ( bread , breadsticks , crackers , eggs , etc.) and drinks (wine, milk , tea or coffee, energy drinks , etc.);
  • in the two hours following the meat meal, do not ingest anything except water or citrus juice .


  • the meat-based meal (with vitamin C) can be eaten at any time of the day, except obviously in those close to meals;
  • it is recommended to take it twice a week in winter and three times a week in summer, but each athlete can find out by himself how often he needs to do it, observing, with the help of a doctor, how his blood tests vary . blood .


Critical issues

Thirteen-Iacoponi-Arcelli’s diet does nothing but put into practice, in some ways by taking them to extremes, the dietary advice that can help anyone fight iron deficiency anemia. These are advices that are well rooted in clinical practice, and therefore shareable.

It should only be noted that, rather than taking a lot of iron at once, for example by consuming a large steak , it would be preferable to include a small amount of a food containing heme iron in each meal (for example, a few slices of bresaola also included in breakfast and in snacks ).



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