Welcome to Donna, your site for professional sports nutrition coaching. Donna is a registered dietitian and competitive athlete who "walks her talk". Her philosophy of nutrition coaching embraces a holistic approach, with emphasis on natural foods as the foundation for a healthy diet.

Follow her weekly blog on topics related to nutrition, metabolism and psychology.


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Walnut Energy Bars – Homemade and Natural

Nothing but great nutritious ingredients in these gluten free bars! Perfect before a workout, for breakfast, or a good for you snack.

Energy bars are expensive and often made months ahead of when they are actually eaten.  Why not go for a homemade version?  Try this recipe from the California Walnut board.  Ingredients:  3 cups California walnuts, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup dried apricots, 1/2 cup honey…(see more).

Running Injury Prevention Seminar: Get leaner, run stronger, and beat fatigue

Saturday, March 23, 2013  -5th Annual Run Injury-Free Seminar

New Brighton Community Center,  10th Street NW, New Brighton, MN 55112

Join fellow athletes and keynote speakers Scott Christensen and Donna Marlor for a running seminar on March 23, 2013.
Learn first-hand from sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers on how to run injury-free.

Phytos Power Weight Control

Just today I was lending a listening ear to a fellow master athlete who was frustrated with his weight and lack of control over his appetite.  “It’s the kitchen counter thing…you can eat hundreds of calories just walking through the kitchen…before you even hit the shower”.  Ouch! And you know it. Those after work, late-day work-outs can really crank up the hunger meter.

Preventing weight gain once you hit the big 40 is an important goal if you self-power over gravity for any length of time.  The painless way to avoid weight gain is primarily through the route of a healthy diet.  What is the best choice?  The evidence is stacking up:  top foods on your kitchen counter should be whole fruits, whole grain foods, nuts and vegetables.  Read all about it in the latest study in Nutrition and Metabolism.



“Winter” Mediterranean Salad

This salad is gluten-free, low in carbohydrate and a nice seasonal winter salad in place of lettuce.  Fennel is high in manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.  For variety, add artichokes, sweet red peppers and/or or kale.   The Mediterranean Diet  is recommended for weight control and heart health.

Ingredients – Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) water
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt or coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For Salad

  • 2 cups (174 g) sliced fennel bulb (preferable organic)
  • 1-½ cups (240 g) thinly sliced red onion
  • ¾ – 1 cup sliced black olives
  • ¾ cup (45 g) fresh parsley, chopped (may sub dried, but not as flavorful)
  • ½ cup (75 g) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 can (15-1/2 oz, 439 g) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2- 15 oz cans diced red tomatoes, drained

Makes 12 (about ½ cup servings) NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS:  Calories: 112, Protein: 4.5 g, Carbohydrate: 12 g, Fat 5.5 g, Sat Fat: 1.1 g,Sugar 2.5 g, Fiber 3.5 g

Get Leaner, Get Faster, by Understanding Carbohydrate Balance

It’s almost the holiday season. Cookies, sweet treats and alcohol are more plentiful than snowflakes.  How much can an endurance athlete “afford” to enjoy?  Recent studies have absolved high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from being any worse than sucrose, a.k.a “table sugar”.  But there is no question that too much of the sweet stuff – whether it is from HFCS or sucrose, or alcohol – can result in excess belly fat and a host of health problems.   Athletes with a large waistline and “apple” body shape may experience decreased insulin sensitivity, which means less access to energy when you really need it.  If you fit into this body type, no matter how many hours of training in your log, a high carbohydrate diet may not be the right fuel mix.   When excess belly fat appears, activation of adipokines, upsets normal carbohydrate metabolism and may make a high carbo diet the wrong choice even if you are training hard.  Rather than cutting healthy carbs (which all turn into glucose eventually), it’s smarter to focus on added sugars.  Fructose found naturally in whole fruit, vegetables, and dairy is quite low.  However, semi-prepared foods, fruit juice, restaurant foods and snacks can exponentially add sugar to your diet and you may not even realize it. For example, although Subway restaurants offer low fat, low sugar choices such as fresh vegetables, low fat meat, and 9-grain buns, the unsavvy consumer can put together a high sugar combination.  A 6-inch chicken teriyaki sub paired with a small fruizzle express totals up to 50 grams of sugar.  Like many condiments, sweet and sour teriyaki sauce is loaded with sugar, and the healthy sounding Fruizzle fruit drink is about three times as much sugar as a single piece of fresh fruit.  When it comes to holiday treats, be choosy.  Follow the one-a-day rule, and head for a shrimp cocktail or the smoked salmon instead.


Total Calories: 2400   Total Carbohydrate: 276 g, sugar 73 g, Protein 131 g, Sodium 2858 mg


Oatmeal instant, regular, Quaker 2 packets

English walnuts, 1 Tbsp

1 small navel orange

1 slice whole wheat bread (1 oz)

½ tsp Take Control margarine



Fresh apple, 1 small



Turkey & ham Subway SW, No oil

Apple, 1 small

Low calorie beverage



Rye Krisp crackers,3 each

1 oz (1 ind wrap stick) mozzarella cheese



Chicken breast, 6 oz grilled or roasted, no skin

Large baked potato

1 Tbsp Take Control margarine

1 cup green beans

2 cups mixed green salad with 2 Tbsp Italian dressing



Apple, 1 small




1 large banana nut low fat muffin (Dunkin Donuts)

1 Starbucks Frapuccinno coffee

8 oz Orange juice



Chicken Caesar wrap (Chix-A-Fil)

16 oz Gatorade



2 pcs. Lasagna dinner

1 slc Italian bread

1 cup mixed salad greens

1 T Italian dressing



2 Muskateer;’s bar

1 package original flavor Sun Chips

1 Nutrigrain bar

Total Calories: 2753  Fat 83 , Carb 409 g, Sugar 205 g Sodium 4800 mg


Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, Powerful in 6 Hours a Week

I was asked to review the latest update from Chris Carmichael and found the Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, Powerful in 6 Hours a Week to be everything the title promised.  Chris’s tips can help any endurance athlete who is super timed crunched to hang with the competition who have more time to train.  His book includes programs for road racing, cyclocross, mountain bike events, Gran Fondos, century rides, and multi-day tours-all in under 6 hours a week. The book is now available in bookstores, bike shops, and online.  Preview The Time-Crunched Cyclist at

Through his popular endurance coaching service, Carmichael noticed that many busy cyclists are unable to make performance gains using conventional training methods; they simply don’t have enough time to train. Carmichael Training Systems developed a new approach-the Time-Crunched Training Program-to help cyclists achieve competitive fitness and power without the impossible time demands of traditional training methods.

The Time-Crunched Cyclist shows cyclists how to build fitness on a realistic schedule by tapping the power of high-intensity interval workouts. Cyclists learn the science behind this alternative approach to training before performing the CTS field tests to get a baseline reading of their fitness.

8 comprehensive training plans include effective time-crunched workouts, nutrition guidelines, and strength training to develop the speed and endurance for a wide variety of cycling races and events. New programs for this second edition bring cyclists up to speed for cyclocross racing, mountain bike endurance rides, and show bicycle commuters how to turn their twice-a-day rides into effective time-crunched workouts.

Cycling is more fun when you are fit, and now great fitness is achievable for cyclists who thought their best performances disappeared with their free time.

Asian Chicken & Cabot Cheddar Lettuce Wraps

A super fast and healthy summer appetizer.  Prep ingredients ahead of time, and let guests make their own!  A recipe I tested from Cabot Cheese, a cooperative group of farmers from Vermont.

Mix together for dressing:   1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light soy sauce,2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger,1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 drops Asian sesame oil

Lettuce Wraps:  top each piece lettuce with the following

Shredded meat from 2 cooked chicken legs (bake at 450F, cool; remove skin, debone)

6 leaves Bibb lettuce

1/2 seedless cucumber, chopped

1 mango, pitted, peeled and diced

1/2 cup seedless grapes

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 ounces Cabot Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Nutrition Analysis – Per 1 appetizer serving     Recipe makes 6 servings.   Calories 156, Total Fat 15g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 314mg, Carbohydrates 4g, Dietary Fiber <1g, Protein 1g,  NOTE: to reduce fat, use 50% less fat cheddar and light mayonnaise





Spinach & Garbanzo Bean Soup

Few Americans meet the recommendation to eat 9 servings  of fruits and vegetables daily. Produce provides phytochemicals that enhance recovery from hard exercise, protect against UV sun damage, and pollution. Here’s a delicious recipe that can boost your intake.

Spinach & Garbanzo Bean Soup                                                Serves 4
Gluten-free   Vegan   High Fiber   Lactose-free
This is a super easy recipe that works with any diet.  All of the main ingredients can be kept on hand in the pantry and freezer.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
Saute above ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Then add:
2 garlic cloves, minced  Read More

Rocket to the FINISH LINE! 24-Hour High Glycemic Index Load

Barely time to text much less plan a 7-day carboload?  Your body does not tweet or text, but it is capable of loading up energy stores of glycogen in just 24 hours.  But, you have to do it by Mother Nature’s carbo-loading rules.  Here goes:

For a 24-hour glycogen load, start with a short, 15-20 minute, near maximum intensity workout,  designed to deplete glycogen stores.  This can be done 1-3 days prior to the race. High intensity is essential, otherwise go for the traditional longer workout to deplete stores, and follow with a traditional carbo-load regimen.  For the 24-hour, high GI approach simply use a “this for that” game plan- i.e., swapping whole grain, high fiber carbs for high GI carbs.  Avoid breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran. Sub cornflakes, rice chex, corn chex, puffed rice cereal. Use breads without whole grains, stone-ground flour, or sourdough.  White bread, rice crackers, or white bagels must be on the 24-hour load menu.  Consume potatoes without added butter or margarine, and no french fries. Enjoy canned fruit in heavy syrup  and cooked vegetables.  Avoid whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, or pasta cooked al a dente.   Pasta cooked until very soft has a higher glycemic index. Drink high GI sport drinks such as Pure Sport Recovery or fruit drinks instead of 100% juice. Use high GI snacks between meals: Clif Bar Bloks, Jelly beans, hard candy, top toast with jelly or jam, snack on Clif bar Cookies ‘n Crème, or Powerbars.  REST after loading essential to maintain stores!  Just go to work and sit at your computer, or drive to your favorite race.  Naturally, you want to stay limber, so easy walking and stretching is A-OK.


Published in print before the 2011 Ironman(r) World Championships in October, Iron War is Fitzgerald’s riveting epic about how Mark Allen and Dave Scott drove themselves and each other through the 1989 Ironman(r) World Championship, the most awe-inspiring race in sports history. Driven by one of the fiercest rivalries in triathlon, Scott and Allen raced shoulder to shoulder through the Ironman 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race, and 26.2-mile marathon. After 8 punishing hours, both men would demolish the previous record-and cross the finish line just 58 seconds apart. The race would redefine the limits of human endurance and the role of mental toughness in sports. Iron War goes beyond the pulse-pounding race story to offer a fascinating exploration of the lives of the world’s two toughest men and their unquenchable desire to succeed. For more information, please visit