March 2008 Nutrition Chat with Coach Marni Rakes

author : mrakes1
comments : 0

Discussion on nutrient proportions for endurace athletes, drinking during the swim, race calorie intake target, detoxing, replacement for vegetables, liquid meals and the best protein powder.

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[chirunner134] Evening Marni. I like to thank you since our last chat I been dropping about 2 lbs a week and I am the lightest I been in like 7 years.

[mrakes1] Great!!!! Congrats!!! After your marathon you have a BIG driving force to keep the weight off and keep running!

[chirunner134] Well I been not able to get below 285 for like 2 years and now I am at 275.

[mrakes1] That is great. Keep looking at yourself in the mirror and when you are happy with what you see, you are at the perfect weight. No number is going to tell you where you need to be. Sounds like you are on the right track. If anyone has any questions, ask away!

[katzchen55] What is the proper proportion of fats/carbs/protein for us endurance athletes?

[mrakes1] Based on your daily diet of however many calories (usually 1800-2200 for women and 2200-2400 for men) is around 60-65% carbs, 20-25% protein and 15-20% fat. Emphasize protein with all meals and complex carbs.


[chirunner134] I heard of some people drinking in water bottles during the swim of an IM. Is there any benefit to it?


[mrakes1] Nope, just swim and refuel on the bike within the first 2-3 miles.  You can have a swig of a sports drink right before you start the swim on the IM.


[cbost2678] Is there a weight to calorie ratio one should try to take in during a IM on the bike and run?

[mrakes1] As far as weight to calorie ratio for IM, practice taking in 220-280 calories/hr on the bike and 180-240 calories on the run (depending on size and intensity). Less is more and if you train efficiently your body won't require as many calories. Also, to prevent weight gain, you are better off learning how little you need rather than taking in too much and not realizing that you could go with less calories per hour (and avoid weight gain). Most of all practice your IM nutrition. I prefer mostly fluids and 1-2 gels per hour.

[katzchen55] Do you support the idea of detoxing or fasting at any time?


[mrakes1] I don't suggest either because of the change in your blood sugar when avoiding foods and only drinking fluids. However, I do believe that a person should avoid sugars for a few days to stabilize the blood sugar. This isn't to say you can't have 1 g of sugar from fruit or in a food but keeping with only complex, high fiber carbs and eating protein for 2-3 days...that should make your body feel really good when the blood sugar is stable and not fluctuating.

[cbost2678] During swim workouts should I be consuming any calories for workouts over than a hour?


[mrakes1] Over an hour, you can have a sport drink with no concerns. I don't think a 60-90 min. workout needs a sports drink but if you feel tired or lightheaded or are doing a workout before or after the swim, then I say choose the sport drink. You can also dilute the drink or if the workout is around 60-75 minutes you could use 1/2 scoop or a lower calorie drink. Either way, if your body needs calories due to high intensity, just be sure you have a sport drink available. I suggest the lower calorie because most of the time we feel like our stomach is empty rather than our muscles being depleted from glycogen. This usually occurs for morning workouts when we feel hungry but we can still perform well.

[cbost2678] I had my RMR checked and it was around 2800 after adding lifestyle and workouts, I cannot begin to consume enough. I do want to lose weight but the right way...any high calorie healthy food selections I can use?

[mrakes1] I would divide your daily calories into 3 meals of 400-500 calories and 2-4 snacks of 150-200 calories. Even if your RMR says you need that, athletes want to be sure they have the right fuel for the workout and then have the right fuel to recover quickly. I would focus on pre and post training nutrition and cut back on snacking (mindless) and late night munching (a small snack in the evening is fine).

[cbost2678] On that it would only be around 2300 and some days I should eat 4000 - is that too much of a deficit?

[mrakes1] Instead of taking your daily calories down (you could go to 2500 without worrying about performance) step up the intensity and do 2-3 60 min or less workouts on an empty stomach for fat burning.  For every hour you exercise you should consume an extra 100-200 calories and that will come from pre and post training snacks.

[katzchen55] So I'm not really big on veggies - though I know I should be. However, I love most fruits. What are the best fruits to eat to help make sure I'm getting the right nutrients?

[mrakes1] All fruits are great. I would emphasize berries, bananas (ripe, small), watermelon, oranges, pears and apples. But I would also eat your veggies. Try cooking them, chopping them up fine or eating them for snacks. Always choose something you enjoy to eat (ex. eggs, cheese, lean meat) with the veggies so you don't feel like you are JUST eating veggies. You have something else to look forward to.

[chirunner134] If I run for 1 hour and then swim I seem to cramp up. I tried eating a banana before I swim but that does not seem to help. Is there anything else I can try?

[mrakes1] Be sure you are drinking enough water on a daily basis. Start the workout with 16-20 oz fluid prior (about a water bottle) consumed in the hour before the workout. You might want a sport drink with the water and consume around 30 minutes into the run. Also, be sure to get in a good warmup for both the run and the swim.

[cbost2678] Time is of a constraint, is getting lots of meals in the liquid form bad?

[mrakes1] Liquid meals (i.e. smoothies) are fine but be sure YOU are making them. Products on the shelves have an excessive amount of sugars and do not contain the nutrients that an athlete needs. I would emphasize whey protein in your drink and fresh fruits and nuts and milk and yogurt as other add-ins. You can also make meals at home or opt to have frozen or canned food (watch sodium and portions). Just be sure not to choose bars as meals which when digested you do not receive the right nutrients in the right quantities. Most importantly, emphasize real food even if it is 3 low sugar yogurts and a handful of nuts for lunch.

[cbost2678] Are some protein powders better than others in your opinion?

[chirunner134] Would soy protein be ok?

[mrakes1] Whey protein is the best protein because of its high biological value which is 100% protein when digested. Soy is ok but I would choose whey first, then soy. However, soy is better than nothing. I do like soy milk and skim milk so opt for different varieties of dairy.

[Rum_Runner] I've been seeing a lot of "Greenwise" products in the stores lately. What's the biggest difference in their milk vs what the grocery typically sells?

[mrakes1] I actually drink Greenwise soy milk. I find it a bit cheaper than the soy from Silk.  Greenwise is seen in Publix and other grocery stores and it is a company that meets the requirements for USDA's heart healthy claim and can also use the USDA organic claim on its label. It is an organic brand so if you are choosing organic foods you have several options from their company.

[chirunner134] Is it better to eat organic?

[mrakes1] For meat I suggest organic (I am a vegetarian so I'm kinda out of the loop on if I choose organic meat ). Eggs are your preference and the same with fruits and veggies. If the fruit and veggie has a peel which you eat, I would suggest organic. In most cases, organic isn't that much more expensive but you need to shop around to compare prices. I buy my fruit (not organic) at a fresh market and it is much cheaper than the store. I suggest shopping outside the grocery for fruits and veggies.  If you are drinking skim milk I would choose organic skim milk and for the soy drinkers, organic soy. Be sure to wash all fruit and veggies before eating.

[chirunner134] Would you suggest eating real food during an IM over things like gels?

[mrakes1] Gels over real food.

[chirunner134] Why the gels?

[mrakes1] When it comes to sporting activities we want to eat the sport food. Therefore, when we aren't exercising we want to choose real food and not bars and sports drinks. The purpose of sports foods (drinks and gels) is that they are made of the proper sugars (look for maltodextrin as first ingredient) which when broken down are absorbed quickly to give you energy. When eating real food (solids) the body has to divert blood from the muscles (which are working) to the tummy to help with digestion. Not so good when you are training hard. Bars and candies are ok during an IM in the later part of the bike but emphasizing liquids first will ensure that the nutrients are getting into your system quickly. If you choose solids first you slow down the absorption of sugars as you are still working hard

[chirunner134] If you had an hour in-between work outs would you eat real food or go for sports food?

[mrakes1] I would choose fluids or if you are really hungry after the 1st workout a yogurt or something like a small smoothie drink. The body will be pumped up after the first workout and depending on the intensity of either workout you may find that the food eaten after the first workout didn't digest properly. I would choose something liquid and easy to digest. 1/2 bar would be ok, or something around 100 calories. Save the other 1/2 for after the workout or eat before a workout.

[chirunner134] So pudding high in sugar is a bad idea?


[mrakes1] I like to get the fat free sugar free instant puddings and I make them with light soy milk or skim milk. Then I have a big bowl and I can use that pudding as a topping on fruit or in the evenings. The industry fat-free sugar free puddings are great for snacks but four of them they can get a bit expensive.

[katzchen55] I saw a tv piece yesterday that said that the average American eats about 4000 cals a day. Is that accurate?

[mrakes1] I would guess that a person eats around 3000 calories a day but barely gets in an hour of exercise. On the weekends, I would guess that a person eats around 3500-5000 calories if they are eating out and choosing to drink. It is sad. And even if they exercise, the exercise isn't the energy expenditure that would equate to eating that much and maintaining weight. You see the trouble with athletes trying to lose weight and then imagine a person who isn't training for anything trying to get the motivation to cut out calories and step up the intensity and duration.

[mrakes1] Thanks for a great chat!!! Looking forward to next month or you can PM me with any questions :)

[chirunner134] Marni it was great as always.


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date: April 5, 2008


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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