August 2007 Nutrition Chat with Coach Marni Rakes

author : mrakes1
comments : 0

Discussions on salt tablets, AM workout nutrition, coffee, post workout nutrition, whey powder, recovery nutrition, losing weight, Recoverite usage, the necessity of sugars and snack ideas.

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[mrakes1] I'm ready to begin so fire away the first question. It can be daily nutrition, training or myths.

[D.Z.] Okay - salt tablets. What's the deal? Should I use them or not? I sweat a TON, and I hydrate well, but how do I know if I should be using salt tablets? How often and how much?


[mrakes1] Look for a tablet with many electrolytes (endurolytes). I suggest 1-2 an hour.


[D.Z.] Okay - is this in conjunction with gel packs and GU2O?

[mrakes1] Salt is sodium chloride whereas the "salt tabs" should contain other minerals. Add a little extra table salt to your food prior to a race and you will be good to go. Also be sure to drink plenty of water. I suggest a water bottle of water a mid-day and mid-afternoon and a glass of water at each meal (every day). Also, 1 water bottle for each hour of training.

[D.Z.] What happens if I take too much in salt/electrolyte tablets? Any side effects?

[mrakes1] Yes-in conjunction with gels for training longer than 60 minutes (less than 60 don't need gels/bars). Most gels/sports drinks offer the required vitamins and minerals/electrolytes for training so loading up on salt tabs aren't necessary. If you fall behind on daily water you may experience cramping which may lead you to believe you need salt tabs.

[D.Z.] Okay - so if I am taking in 1-2 gel packs, and 16+oz of Gatorade-type drink per hour, I shouldn't need salt?

[mrakes1] You may experience bloating with table salt (salty foods such as soup, popcorn, pretzels) and too many salt tabs may create GI problems. Be sure to drink water before each gel (around 3-6 oz-a swig) in order to properly digest the gel and another swig to wash down the gel. You want water in the system for proper absorption.

[mrakes1] That should help with the cramps or prevent cramps from heavy sweating.

[kaqphin] Ok I have one, I want to know what you do for AM workouts where you are literally rolling out of bed and into a session.

[mrakes1] If the workout is cycling or swimming and less than 60 minutes food isn't a necessity. Keep the workout low intensity and have a cup of coffee and you will actually promote fat metabolism thus teaching your body to conserve glycogen. If it is running I suggest something quick to digest that doesn't create GI problems. A little protein and fat with the carbs.

[kaqphin] I can't have coffee, sorry I should have mentioned that... (trust me to be difficult).


[mrakes1] Tea w/ caffeine is fine instead of coffee. But for those who enjoy coffee, there is nothing wrong with 2-3 cups a day (1 prior to workout in the am)


[foolproof ] Is it the caffeine that promotes fat metabolism?


[mrakes1] Caffeine from coffee/tea promotes fat metabolism, help with energy, conserves glycogen.

[mrakes1]  If you feel hungry when you wake up (which is a good thing that you didn't eat too much late at night) I suggest something small around 100 calories such as a rice cake, low-calorie (40-60 calories) w/ 1 tbs. PB or a couple nuts and a sport drink for quick digestion.

[kaqphin] So its just trial and error to figure out what you can keep down?

[mrakes1] Experiment with different foods in the early mornings.

[D.Z.]  A slice of bacon with the rice cake?


[mrakes1] Better off with a piece of cheese rather than bacon. Save that for after the workout with some eggs.  Easy things such as rice cakes, PB, Yogurt smoothie (if that settles well in your stomach), 100 calories of a sport bar (1/2 cliff/power bar) or a sport drink for a running workout.

[D.Z.] After the workout, so the protein can help my muscles rebuild?

[foolproof] I don't eat late at night, but I hardly ever wake up hungry. I have to force breakfast.


[mrakes1] I know it is hard to eat sometimes, especially after a hot, hard or strenuous workout. The liquid protein will ensure that you recover quickly. For those who tend to eat a lot after workouts (extremely hungry) the smoothie will keep you from overeating your meal after your workout.


[mrakes1] Never skip the post-workout snack or meal. give yourself around 30 minutes and have a smoothie with 100 calories whey protein and water. If the workout is more than 60 minutes get a smoothie with more calories in your body for quick recovery. After the smoothie/protein water drink help yourself to a post-workout "meal" around 30 min. to an hour afterwords. Hopefully by then you will feel hungry and actually eat less because your stomach will still be digesting the protein and promoting tissue repair.


[D.Z.] I don't do smoothies - is whey powder with soy milk okay?


[mrakes1]  Sure! You are looking for a whey protein powder which is low in calories (around 80-120). Look for a powder with Branch Chain Amino Acids  (BCAA's) and at least 18g protein. You are looking for immediate protein in the body and pure protein. Chocolate milk or soy milk is fine but be sure you aren't loading yourself with extra calories. Because you are looking for the protein after exercise and you always want the body to get "real food" have yourself the protein w/ water or milk and keep it low in calories before the meal.

[noony] Should post recovery nutrition be any different for triathletes trying to lose weight?


[mrakes1] For those looking to lose weight, not skip on the pre, during, post nutrition. Workouts less than an hour do not require sports drinks/gels or a big pre meal. The nutrition after the workout (protein + a little carb) is most important and will help lose weight.  As far as losing weight, watch your caloric intake of snacks at mid day/afternoon and in the evening. Then you won't sacrifice your performance.

[Doughboy] Any specific caloric intake for a recovery drink?


[mrakes1] As far as recovery, keep the liquid recovery drink (Liquids not solids immediately after the workout) less than 200 calories for a 90 minute workout. Add around 100 calories for each hour after. This is just for the recovery drink immediately after. Around an hour after your workout you will want to give yourself a real meal which can include oatmeal, toast, eggs, pancakes, etc. Post training nutrition is vital to improving performance, getting stronger and losing weight. It all depends on length of workout, body size, intensity of the workout, etc. so I was providing general information which you can apply to your training. Hope that helps for post-workout.

[noony] Do the whey protein powders come in flavors or do you add them with other ingredients to form smoothies and shakes?

[mrakes1] Flavors of chocolate and vanilla are most common. The whey protein from Hammer (Plug- if you want products mention my name for a 10% discount). For the workouts longer than 90 minutes, you can add more foods to your smoothie (use a blender) such as fruit, nuts, extracts, yogurt, ice cream (1/4 cup), PB (1 tbls.), sugar jelly/syrup to name a few. This way you can receive more nutrients in your smoothie.

[D.Z.] Which hammer product is the whey substitute?

[mrakes1] The name is just Whey Protein by hammer. Check out the recovery/protein section on the website. Look for whey protein isolate (if it reads concentrate w/ the isolate that is fine) and very few carbs and around 80-110 calories. That will be the real deal.

[kaqphin] What about recovery formulas like Recoverite? Only for workouts over 90 minutes?

[mrakes1] Yes, Recoverite for after 90 minutes if you choose that as your recovery drink. But because of the calorie content you don't need to add the Recoverite to other foods in a blender. Recoverite is great for on the road or after a workout away from home.

[Bajapat] In the book Slow Burn the writer suggest ridding your diet of sugar, what do you think about that?

[mrakes1]  Sugar is necessary for improving performance. Sugar is also needed in the diet. I am a firm believer in controlling blood sugar in the diet so there is a time for everything. We can go into more detail for the glycemic index but that may be a whole chat on its own. Check out the article I wrote in Triathlete Magazine July issue 07, pg. 140 and that should clarify things. If you still have more questions about the sugar deal feel free to PM me.

[noony ] What types of snacks would you recommend for someone trying to lose weight and train?


[mrakes1] Snack Options (every 2-3 hours before and after meals)

  • 1 cup frozen fruit

  • ½ cup dried cereal

  • 10-15 mixed nuts

  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese w/ Tablespoon granola or sliced almonds

  • 80-110 calorie Yogurt

  • Sugar free Fudge pop

  • ½ cup sorbet or low fat ice cream

  • 1 scoop whey protein w/ water or w/ ½ cup milk or fruit – add crushed ice

  • 100 calorie snack packs/bars

  • Sugar Free Jello w/ Strawberries

  • Sugar Free Pudding with dollop fat free whip cream

  • Yogurt w/ handful nuts and a few raisins

  • Whole Grain Granola

[noony] Any lunch recommendations of things to take with you to work?

[mrakes1] Wraps, salads and fruit are great.  Combine a little protein and fat with all meals and know exactly what you will eat for lunch/dinner before you eat. Planning ahead will prevent from overeating or snacking.

[noony] Should meals be a certain percentage carbs/protein/etc?

[mrakes1] It all depends on when you train but I suggest having more carbs from morning to mid-day and then higher protein meals/snack for dinner and later evening.

[D.Z.] Okay - real fast. I eat 4 slices of wheat bread most days. Is that too much?

[mrakes1] Depends on how many calories are in the bread. If you choose nature own high fiber bread you are only getting 40-50 calories per slice w/ high fiber and 100% whole wheat. Therefore with 4 slices, the 200 calories you eat in bread are not a lot. I'm a believer in a little of everything rather than a lot of one thing. Because you can easily eat 2 slices of 120-180 kcal 100% whole wheat bread, your 4 slices may put you over with close to 600 or more calories.


[mrakes1] DZ did that answer your question? If you really enjoy your 100% whole wheat bread but you feel it has too many calories per slice (more than 100 calories may be excessive with 4 slices in addition to other carbs which you eat), take a thick slice of bread and toast it and then cut it in half. may sound silly but you have yourself 2 pieces of bread and you've saved 1/2 the calories for a sandwich. And you can add more food in the sandwich too!

[D.Z.] Yes Marni - it helped. I suspect my bread has too many cals. Thanks for the help. We should do this again.

[mrakes1] Cut the bread in half through the edges, not just in the middle to make two halves.

[jknapman] Cramping in the intercostals, during sprints even, is there anyway to find if this is indeed a nutritional issues and if so caused by what?

[mrakes1] My guess is fluids. You don't always know what is going on in the body physically (stress, tight muscles, etc.) but be sure you are drinking enough fluids. Especially after the workouts (long) do not neglect a couple water bottles of water. Also, be sure you keeping the foods before a sprint tri simple and easy to digest and drink water or sport drink prior to the sprint tris.


[mrakes1] Thanks everyone for your great questions. If you are interested in the nutrition consultation, check out this link and hopefully I can help!


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date: September 24, 2007


Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. I am a certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition,I teach spinning and I am CPR certified. I have finished the 2006 Boston marathon, 2006 IMFL, 2007 Ironman world Championship and I am qualified for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I write for Triathlete magazine and I love writing for!


Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. I am a certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition,I teach spinning and I am CPR certified. I have finished the 2006 Boston marathon, 2006 IMFL, 2007 Ironman world Championship and I am qualified for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I write for Triathlete magazine and I love writing for!

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