If you’re big into sport and exercise, then you’re more at risk of developing iron deficiency than inactive peeps. Why? ‘Cause aerobic training increases the production of red blood cells and that’s what causes your bod to require iron. Plus, iron can also be lost through sweat. Need to pump up your iron intake? Wholegrains – including oats, brown rice, bulgur wheat, wholegrain pasta, couscous and bread, barley, quinoa and fortified breakfast cereals – are among the foods to focus on to increase your levels. Start with this iron-loaded brekkie from The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes for Active Living (Bloomsbury, $29.99).

Ingredients

40g rolled oats
Pinch of cinnamon
75g low-fat plain Greek yogurt
125ml  any milk of your choice
1–2 tsp maple syrup or honey, to taste
Handful of blueberries
A few walnuts
Peanut butter, protein powder, chopped apple, cinnamon or vanilla extract (optional)

Method

Mix together the oats, cinnamon, yogurt, milk maple syrup or honey and blueberries in a bowl or a glass jar. Cover and put in the fridge overnight so the oats absorb all the liquid. In the morning, remove from the fridge, top with the walnuts and enjoy!

Note: Overnight oats are essentially oats soaked overnight in yogurt or milk. The idea is that the oats absorb the liquid and soften, creating an instant breakfast (rather like cold porridge) that can be eaten straight from the fridge in the morning. You can make it in a bowl or in a wide-neck jar (or other food container) that you can pop in your kit bag or handbag and take with you to the gym or work in the morning. Make a batch – the mixture will keep in the fridge for up to two days and it makes a great pre- or post-workout snack.