November 2009 Nutrition Chat with Coach Marni Rakes

author : mrakes1
comments : 0

Discussions on Weight Watchers, eating out, peanut butter, agave nectar, not wanting to count calories and replacing calories burned by working out.

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[mrakes1] If anyone has a question, ask away.

[axteraa] I'm wondering what your thoughts are of following a Weight Watchers diet (ie. counting points) while also training. Are there things to watch out for as far as balance of carbs, protein etc?  My wife lost some weight with it and now just wants to maintain her weight (or lose a couple more pounds) but also trains some but she says she often lacks energy.

[mrakes1] I think that weight watchers has some positive aspects. I think it is beneficial as it teaches you to watch your portions and food choices. However, for athletes, I don't think there is any "diet" out there that allows a person to lose weight at a healthy manner (1-2 lbs/week) without losing energy. It can be tough at first to balance macronutrients but it can be done with some practice and help.

[hygienist1972] Marni, I did a body builders diet with my personal trainer and lost 15 lbs, but couldn't keep eating like that. I still can't eat green beans...I want to eat health and train and have energy to get through the day and still lose I asking too much?  I eat ever 3 hours, 6 small meals a day...and still cant lose any more.

[mrakes1]  Knowing how much your body needs before, during and after exercise, in addition to on a daily basis will allow a person to maintain or lose weight. However, with the excuse of training or the worry that you won't have energy before or for upcoming can be easy to overeat.

[hygienist1972] So does your nutritional counseling in the one month really help with that, or do you really think it's necessary to get the full three months?


[mrakes1] As far as the nutrition plan on BT, I recommend the three month plan for a person who has really struggled with weight loss while trying to improve performance (or just struggling with weight loss). However, the one month plan allows me to recognize the problem areas with nutrition and how to learn to eat for fuel and to give you the tools to learn how to eat like an athlete and reach weight loss goals. The best part of the plan is having the one-on-one time through the forum for me to really work with my athletes on a personal basis, since every athlete is different.

[axteraa] My wife has the opposite problem. She sticks to her WW points to a tee! I sometimes wonder if she doesn't eat enough...


[mrakes1] Not eating enough can be a problem as well. It can be a struggle but once you find a good balance at meals and snacks, eating is a lot less stressful and challenging.

I just wrote an article for Iron Girl which will be out in a few days on eating for volume (low energy foods, high nutrient density) and that can make a big impact on feeling satisfied at meals. Although monitoring calories will allow for weight loss, the body must use calories in an efficient manner in order to avoid fat gain and to promote an increase in lean muscle mass.

[hygienist1972] How do I get to know what the heck my body needs? I don't want to count calories for the rest of my life...I want to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight for me..

[mrakes1] My suggestions are lean and low fat protein with all complex carbs, fruits and veggies as snacks (in addition to with meals) and controlling portions to 350-500 calories per meal and 150-250 calories per snack (3-6 per day). Then for workouts, adding in 100-200 extra calories over daily calories per hour of exercise to properly fuel and refuel (ex. 2000 calorie diet + 2 hour workout = 2000 calories = 200-400 extra calories

It isn't about calorie counting but understanding what you are eating and how much you are eating. While journaling food is one of the best ways of keeping off weight for a lifetime, understanding how many calories are in your food choices will allow for healthy meal planning.

[hygienist1972] Isn't there a large range for calories needed to lose/ maintain weight?


[mrakes1] A recommended rule is 500 calories less per day from your recommended calorie needs. I recommend the Mifflin St. Jeor calorie formula when trying to figure out calorie needs.

[hygienist1972] Do you then have to subtract the calories burned from a workout? Say I biked for hour and burned 400cal would I then eat that 400 extra or only 1/2?

[mrakes1] The problem with finding out how to factor in calories burned is that you need to factor in the intensity of the workout. I think this is where a lot of athletes struggle with weight loss because they see a two hour workout and 400 calories burned and for worry of not properly refueling, they are concerned about those 400 lost calories. However, depending on the hr, unless the HR is on average above 80-85%, there will be a large percentage of calories burned from fat, which don't require a quick calorie replenishment. This is where I can come into play because it is easy for me to understand the intensity of an athlete's workout and recommend calories to ensure proper recovery.

Understanding how to time nutrition with training and to factor in those 100-200 calories allows athletes to have a sweet treat every now and then and still eat portioned controlled meals to help with training and weight loss.

[hygienist1972] My boyfriend and I tend to eat out on weeks when I get to see you have tips for careful eating out?

[mrakes1] There are a handful of tips for eating out but a few suggestions are checking online menus and nutrition guides ahead of time before going to the restaurant, planning for at least 300-500 extra calories than normal through restaurant-style meals, keeping the order plan with extras on the side and starting with a salad or low sodium soup. Also, eat a small protein snack around 80-100 calories around 15-30 min before arriving to the restaurant to balance blood sugar and prevent overeating. I suggest a few nuts, string cheese, cottage cheese, glass of skim milk, piece of lean meat, yogurt or a tsp of PB.


Although the online menus are scary they can be informative. I recommend

[hygienist1972] Is there such a thing as low sodium soup at restaurants?


[mrakes1] Although you can't ask for low sodium soups you can recognize higher versus lower sodium soups based on the sodium content on canned soup.

[Gregkl] One suggestion. If you are still "clearing your plate" like mom and dad said, STOP! Restaurants typically have way too large portions.


[mrakes1] Yes, I agree that portions can be too large so ask for a box when your meal comes and pack up half before you even start eating. Plus it's a money saver cause you have a meal for the next day.

[hygienist1972] Do you have to eat natural PB?

[mrakes1] I recommend natural PB to eliminate the high fructose corn syrup. Generally, the less ingredients the better when it comes to food so a PB with only three ingredients is much healthier than one with more than eight.

[hygienist1972] Feelings on agave nectar?

[mrakes1] I have read a few articles on the hype about agave nectar and that it is not as beneficial as people claim it to be so I think it is a consumer point of view. While it is helpful to watch sugars, it doesn't matter if the sugar is cane, agave nectar, honey or brown sugar. There are good and bad points to any type of sugar and all can promote weight gain when consumed in high quantity.

I enjoy finding flavor from fruits when cooking in order to add sweetness to my meals.  However, most foods in small quantities are fine even for people wanting to lose weight.

Check my blog I just put a whole bunch of recipe makeovers for thanksgiving and some tips for holiday eating. I plan on putting more tips for the Christmas holiday.

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date: December 20, 2009


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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