September 2008 Nutrition Chat with Coach Marni Rakes

author : mrakes1
comments : 0

Discussions on losing weight and calorie restriction in the winter, post Ironman weight gain, workout calorie replacement and low sodium snacks.

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[TriToy] So for the first time since starting tri training I am going to start trying to lose weight...mostly to be faster.  I am a bit concerned about training and any sort of calorie restriction.

[mrakes1] I think it is a good time to drop body fat. With the off-season/winter approaching focus on aerobic training to utilize stored fat. Training should be around 70-80% max heart. If you are in the right zone you shouldn't find yourself lacking energy as you drop 300-400 calories out from your daily diet. Because there are few races in the winter (unless you live in FL) you don't have to worry about the high volume of training in the off season. You will benefit more from the perspective of performance if you work on aerobic training rather than trying to put in long hours of training to try to burn calories (which requires you to eat more and can cause you to eat too much).


[TriToy] So dumb question, but if you stay low aerobic zone, while you do burn percentage wise more fat, don't you burn much more with intervals?


[mrakes1] Yes, intervals are very useful but those workouts should only be an hour or less so that you don't have to re-fuel with calories during the workout. I recommend intervals 2-3 times per week to work on lactate training but in the off-season/winter it is most important to focus on aerobic training as your top concern.

[TriToy] Makes sense - I was also going to go into a relatively heavy lifting cycle once I run the Boston Half Marathon.


[mrakes1] Rather than heavy lifting, continue with 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps. This will help your lactate threshold and anaerobic threshold. You can lift heavy once a week but I also recommend at least 1 full body weight lifting session (including core) with more reps for each set.

[kellc09] I got very used to eating alot during IM training. Post IM training I have laid off some of the calories, tracked them to adjust for about half the training time, but it seems my body has wanted to gain 3-5 pounds and not let go. I am now into marathon training, and I would like to lose 5, but in tracking my calories, I'm not losing much.

[mrakes1] The body tends to get into a starvation mode during IM training. For those who lose weight yet keep energy levels high during IM training tend to gain weight post-IM because the body finally has time to catch up. Give yourself a few weeks to slowly cut out food and when you were use to eating every hour (or when you were hungry), let yourself go 2-3 hours after meals and then have a snack. Also, focus on protein and 400-500 calorie meals. Once you get into a solid marathon plan you should find yourself slowly dropping weight. I also recommend keeping with the swimming and biking. Non-weight bearing sports are great to keep the heart rate up and rest the legs (from pounding) and to relax the body for active recovery.

[kellc09] Ah, ok. I was wondering! I have 4 days running, two recovery days of 1 hr biking in there too. After the marathon will it keep me in starvation mode again, or will it level more now with only 50-70% of the workload I had during the IM? Or try to restrict some to lose during this marathon training, or wait until after the marathon?

[mrakes1] The intervals with your training (running) will really help your marathon. It is because your marathon training is probably half (or more) than what you did for IM training. Your body just isn't use to everything and cutting back on training volume takes time for the body to adjust. You can restrict calories without losing performance but focus on snacks and late night eating (and portioning meals) but still keep up with your post-training foods and pre-training foods for 60+ min. workouts. Never restrict yourself from food when the body needs to fuel or repair. I think most people can think of a few times during the day when they eat when the body isn't in need of food or the stomach isn't empty. Recognize those times and you should find yourself easily dropping a few pounds in the next couple of weeks.

[TriToy] That is going to be the hardest part for me - night time....that is what I am going to try to stop now, with one more triathlon and the half marathon still happening - so still in active training cycle.

[kellc09] I have worked on timing of nutrition, which is working out well, now I guess I need to wait for the body to readjust itself. Also, I see in some of your other chats, to replace 150-250 cals per hour of working out. If I run 1 hour of intervals (say mile repeats at 7min miles) is that shorting too much? Other programs tell me that's burning about 600 cals. Or is it 150-250 for weightloss?

[mrakes1] Just because you are burning calories you need to recognize what calories you are burning.  Anything below 85% is a mix of fat and carbs. So with intervals it is good to keep it high for your speed sessions but then recover to preserve your glycogen. However, I don't believe that you have to replace 600 calories post workout because the body wasn't anaerobic for the entire hour.  However, 150-250 calories post-workout is the way to go but I recommend that for workouts over an hour (2 hours would be good). However, post 1 hour workout, you should have milk, yogurt or whey protein and 100 calories to repair muscles will do more good than harm.  The muscles store 2000 calories and it takes a 2 hour all-out effort to completely deplete those stores. Therefore, when you are eating and training, you need to recognize what fuel you are using and why and how much you should replace from the workouts.

[kellc09] So you say 150-250 replacing per hour is a good standard?


[mrakes1] It is just an easy way to make sure you re-fuel post workouts. Those extra calories are NOT added to meals but rather to pre and post training snacks. So, if you workout for 2 hours, have a 150 -200 calorie smoothie.  However, I think for women 100-200 calories is a good range, especially now in the off-season when volume is dropped.  It is most important that you focus on what intensity you are training at and how long. The main reason why you should refuel is to repair (protein). Next, you should refuel stored glycogen which is used for 85%+ max heart rate training (usually in intervals since it is very hard to train that high, not recommended, for more than an hour). The body has an endless supply of fat so although you burn lots of calories for long distance training and you may feel really hungry, you have been out for a while and the body will get hungry from not having food.


KEY POINT: However, you shouldn't be eating anything and a lot of it just because your HR monitor says you burned 1000+ calories would cause you to gain weight. You burned stored fat which technically does not need to be replaced.  Hope that helps to clear it up.

[snikpos] Hey, Marni. Just trying to figure out how to do the low sodium thing better.

[mrakes1] Find low sodium reduce packaged, canned and frozen foods. You can also use low sodium foods

[snikpos] I'm thinking more in terms of like snacks other than know, something I can CRUNCH! Also, at work the other day we had a pot luck party and I had no way of knowing what kind of sodium was in the foods.  I feel like I'm fine as long as I'm safe at home with my package labels, but going out is a nightmare.

[mrakes1] I like Wasa crackers. They have a great crunch and every time I eat them I feel like they have salty taste. There is sodium in everything and I'm sure people add sodium to everything (even canned foods!). It is important that you recognize what is in the foods you are eating. Unfortunately, you can't surround yourself with triathletes, runners and weight loss people at all times. however, you can be the healthy person when going out and make educated decisions.

Another cool thing I learned about them - I eat them with salad all the time - is that they do not get soggy if you melt cheese on them in the microwave.

[mrakes1] I do a piece of cheese and hummus on them for snacks and crumble them on salads as croutons. Also, for very early morning training if the workout is 90 min - 2 hours I can easily digest 1/2 Wasa cracker and a little PB. It works well for me.


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date: October 2, 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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