Pahnke, T., Lyle, R. M., Martin, B., Weaver, C. M., & Corrigan, D. (1999). Effect of increased lean beef consumption on iron status and performance of adolescent female runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31(5), Supplement abstract 702.

Female cross-country runners and controls were randomly assigned to four groups: runners + beef (N = 19); runners with no beef (N = 18); controls + beef (N = 22); and controls with no beef (N = 20). For a three-month competitive season, beef groups ingested 2-3 beef snacks daily.

There were no differences between the groups at baseline in iron status or diet. Runners had less body fat, lower resting heart rates and ratings of perceived exertion on a step-test, and greater fitness than controls at baseline.

It was found that training compromised some indicators of iron status in the runners, increased ingestion of beef protected hemoglobin levels, and both training and increased beef consumption were related to improved fitness levels.

Implication. Female endurance athletes need to supplement diet with extra lean beef if fitness is to be maximized.

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