Recovering from blood donation


I’ve been a regular blood donor for years, but this spring I noticed a precipitous drop in my ftp after donating double red cells. It was ~8 weeks before I felt like I was back to where I was before the donation.
In light of that, I haven’t given blood at all during my race season. My last “A” race was last Saturday and I’m going to give again over the winter. I’m curious what others have done to help your ftp rebound after blood donations whether it’s diet or training related.

Increased Iron in the way of more spinach, red meat, etc. seem to help some. Any other ideas?


I have a condition where my body retains iron and it can build to harmful levels. I have to donate whole blood 3 times per year (about every 17 to 20 weeks) and avoid iron rich foods to some degree.

Base on that, I avoid red meat other than special occasions. Otherwise, I tend to follow the typical recovery recommendations with hearty meal and normal drinks the first few meals after.

I haven’t done a bunch of food testing to optimize. I just count on being down for at least 2 weeks and work to get back to where I was in 6ish weeks (if I’m lucky).


Likewise noticed a drop in performance for 4 weeks or so after my most recent donation. I am thinking about donating plasma or platelets next time, rather than whole blood.


Whoa, a double packed cell donation! That’ll definitely affect your training. I think even a unit of whole blood donation will have a measurable affect for a few weeks let alone a double RBC donation.

Unfortunately red cells take time to mature and all you can do is make sure your body has all that it needs to feed the ramped up RBC production. Sounds like you have the Iron part covered. Make sure to have a healthy dose of good fats and adequate cholesterol in your diet as those are some major components of the cell membrane. Make sure to have enough folic acid. A small portion of the population will have a double hit of the MTHFR mutation and if you have that, then supplementing with methylfolate would be highly recommended.

Like the other person said, it may be better to do a plasma or platelet donation if you want to donate without affecting your performance.


Thanks, guys! We’ll see what happens. I originally started doing double reds since there is less plasma loss, but not really accounting for the fact that the red cells are where the “money” is at. I may go back to whole blood and see if my recovery comes faster with less red cell loss.


@heypoolboy78 The average quantity of blood that is taken during a donation is around a pint (for simple math let’s just say 500ml. The total circulating volume of blood for an average human(depends on body size) is about 6.5L so they take between 5-8% of your blood volume. With proper rehydration it may only take a day or two to get your actual volume status back. However, it takes 90-120 days for blood cells to mature so your hemoglobin won’t be back up to pre donation levels until then. Of course you are taking measly percentage or fractions of a percentage point (that most people never feel the affects of) but of course as an endurance athlete this may most certainly affect you.