Both iron deficiency (ID) and obesity are global epidemics affecting billions of people worldwide. It has become clear that iron deficiency and obesity do not merely represent the coincidence of two frequent conditions but are molecularly linked and mutually affect each other. Iron homeostasis is affected by obesity and obesity-related insulin resistance in a many-facetted fashion. The inflammation caused by our fat reduces our ability to get iron into our cells where it belongs. How to combat this detrimental situation?

Losing weight really will help win the battle. If we can work on reducing the excess body fat, there will be lower risk for coronary events, depression, and even iron deficiency.

Exercising while suffering from Iron Deficiency

An immediate dilemma to lose fat to solve the iron problem is that due to the lack of sufficient energy, it is extremely tiresome to push through an exercise program. If you find yourself trying to exercise and wonder what is wrong - why you cannot push yourself through your exercise set or even walk a little bit further - you really aren't going crazy! Iron deficiency directly affects the physical performance, beyond simply being tired. This fact gives birth to two major dilemmas:

  • How to get to the point at which you can exercise (even a little bit) so that you can work on weight loss?
  • And, are calorie restrictions for weight loss even appropriate for someone with a nutritional deficiency?

Focus on maintaining Iron level, then Hit the Exercise

A deficiency will take months to correct, if not a good bit longer. It depends in part of why you are deficient. If the causes are simply dietary, diet changes and supplements could correct it in three months or so - the time in which your body makes a whole new set of blood cells, something it works on every day.

Assuming you can get in front of why you are deficient and begin to solve it, your next step is to get your iron levels up enough that you can actually exercise. 

Once you can Exercise, begin your Weight Loss Program

Start your workouts slow and progressively increase the intensity over time. Stick to lower intensity workouts, too, like a yoga class or a walk rather than a run or HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. Always listen to your body-if you feel tired, pause, and assess whether or not you can continue. Also, only do what you can. Pushing yourself to your limit is not necessary, so if you feel exhausted, sit down, and catch your breath. Waiting it out might be the best option.

As both iron deficiency and overload may have detrimental effects on the course of obesity-related conditions be sure to talk to your primary care doctor to ensure your workout routine is safe and remember to always stick to the supplement plan already prescribed to you. Listen to your body's needs and act accordingly.

There are specific supplements available to take care of iron deficiency or vitamin supplementation. EBMfer capsules and liquid are vegan iron supplements that are gelatin-free.  

EBMmoms capsules is a vegan prenatal supplement that contains 12 vitamins and 5 minerals and may be suitable as a regular daily multivitamin supplement as well.