How I combatted low energy
At 17, I moved out of home to go to uni. For the first time, I had to cook all of my own food, but I didn’t really know how to cook! So I stuck to the basics – scrambled eggs, salads, sandwiches, wraps, tins of tuna and beans.
As a result, I never cooked meat. I didn’t know how! Cooking meat was scary and overwhelming. What cut? What kind? How do I cook it? It all felt too hard.
It didn’t take long before I was severely anemic.
Because I wasn’t getting enough iron in my diet, my body was struggling to transport oxygen around the body leaving me with no energy to get through the day.
My low iron levels left me exhausted and tired all the time!
After several months of feeling lack-lustre, irritable and moody, I finally went for a blood test. The verdict?
Like 1 in 3 Aussie women, I was not getting enough iron in my diet.
What I didn’t know at the time is that because women get a period, we actually need twice as much iron as men (and really active women need ever more).
Growing up, I always thought spinach was a great way to fill up on iron (thanks Popeye and cosmo!) but actually beef is, by far, the best source of iron, above supplements… and spinach.
Popeye also forgot to mention that not all iron is created equal!
Haem iron (found in foods like beef, chicken and pork) is easily absorbed by the body. Iron is also found in veggies and grains, but this ‘non-haem’ iron is not nearly as accessible to the body. So you need to eat a whole lot more to get the same iron boost.
Admittedly, I don’t really have time or patience to plough through heaps of spinach all the time. That is why I eat beef three times a week, which is all you need for sufficient iron.
Because beef is jam-packed with iron, you don’t have to eat a lot of beef to replenish your iron stores. Did you know beef has double the iron than pork, or chicken?
Beef also enhances the amount of iron you absorb from plant-foods like veg and grains. Iron is also great for your healthy glowing skin, hair and nails!?
Eating red meat like beef doesn’t have to be big steak or massive burger! You can also eat a beef stir fry, or choose beef strips in a salad or wrap.
And because beef has heaps of iron, it’s an effective way to replenish my iron stores. I eat red meat like beef to help me keep up my iron levels because I’d much prefer to eat real, whole foods than take supplements.
It’s my real food supplement. And I now make a plan to get enough in my diet.
5 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Diet with Beef
Not getting enough iron? Beef is a healthy accent to a plant-food rich diet! Here are some tips to help you get a healthy dose in your diet.
1. Three palm-sized serves of beef a week is all you need!
You don’t need much beef to get very far. The ideal portion of beef is the size of your palm (without your fingers) or around 100-120g. That’s it! Use your hand as a simple, fuss free guide to getting the perfect serving size.
2. Get inspired
Beef can be really delicious and it so easy to cook – once you know how! Here are some healthy recipes to get you inspired.
3. Ask your local butcher
Not sure how to cook beef? It isn’t hard – I promise. Ask your butcher which cut they recommend and for tips to get the best flavour.
4. Make a date
If you find it tricky to eat enough beef, why not schedule it in your diary. That way, you’ll be less likely to let your iron stores become depleted. It takes about a month for your iron levels to replenish so is far better to prevent low iron levels.
5. Check you’re getting enough Iron
If you have a heavy period, you may have even higher iron needs. Chat to an Accredited Practicing dietitian or doctor to see if you get enough iron in your diet. And remember, when you’re pregnant, you need three times as much iron!
Want to know more about exactly how Iron works in your body and why it’s so important? Check out this cool video.
Vietnamese Grilled Beef Salad Recipe
This tangy salad is a super healthy recipe with plenty of brightly coloured veggies and beef for Iron. It's a delicious and fresh way to add a bit of beef into your diet.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Healthy Vietnamese Beef Salad
4 x 200g sirloin steaks, trimmed of fat
2 carrots, sliced into ribbons using a peeler
1 tbsp rice vinegar
125 g vermicelli noodles
¼ wombok (Chinese cabbage), finely shredded
1 cucumber, sliced into ribbons using a peeler
150 g snow peas, sliced diagonally
½ cup mint leaves
¼ cup peanuts (plain, unsalted), chopped, to serve
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely grated ginger
Brush steaks with oil and season with pepper. Place a chargrill pan over high heat and cook steak for 3 minutes each side for medium rare or until cooked to your liking. Rest.
Peel carrot into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and toss with the rice vinegar. Leave to pickle for 10 minutes.
Cover vermicelli in boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender, drain and rinse with cold water, drain again. Combine the dressing ingredients.
Combine cabbage, carrot plus pickling liquid, vermicelli, cucumber, snow peas and mint leaves and toss with dressing. Top salad with sliced beef and peanuts.
Taste the seasoning of the dressing after you've added it to the rest of the salad and adjust depending on your preference.
Sirloin steaks are sometimes called New York steak ;)
Sponsored post: This post is proudly sponsored by Beef Australia.