A study published in Network Health shows how three out of five endurance and female athletes are iron depleted and a third are at risk of iron deficiency.

The research examines how the body uses iron and how deficiency can erode stamina and performance. Lead author and dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “Research suggests that a chronic lack of iron is undermining the performance of thousands of everyday exercise enthusiasts. It’s clear that many fitness regimes are missing iron and all the evidence confirms that without healthy iron stores it is unlikely that any athlete will achieve their potential.” “The simplest way to achieve this is to eat red meat on a regular basis because the haem iron in red meat is much more available and readily absorbed than non-haem iron from fortified foods and plant sources.”

A lack of iron limits oxygen transport around the body taking the edge off your mental and physical performance. Rin Cobb, co-author and clinical and sports performance dietitian adds: “The easiest way to beef-up your stamina is to increase your intake of red meat towards the recommended level of 70g a day.

Women on average eat just 56g of red meat daily.” “In the UK the average daily intake of red meat is around 70g per day and the average intake of processed meats is less than 50g per day i.e. the equivalent of two rashers of bacon. If you think you are eating more than this amount daily then the advice is to cut down.” Eating moderate amounts of varied red meat as part of a balanced diet can be healthy and provide you with the haem iron (and protein) needed for an active life, but choose lean cuts and avoid cooking at very high temperatures.

So it seems red meat gets the green light