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.


Archive for the ‘Weight Management’ Category
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.



The Perfect Weight Loss Diet for Athletes

Losing weight can be the easiest way to improve race performance.  No athlete wants to drop  pounds at the expense of losing muscle, however,  which is the case when drastic calorie cuts are made.  But when calories are reduced by only 10% or so, weight loss progress feels like the last 2 minutes of a marathon.  Painful, and you just don’t seem to get to the finish line.

The fastest way to cut body fat still means capping calories at a slight deficit, but new research shows the focus needs to be on where they come from.  First, no question a higher protein diet of 30% of calories, vs the usual 15% is necessary.  Nix the beef and chicken, and instead, eat fish 5x per week in 3-oz portions to see a weight loss over an 8-week period by about 4 pounds more.  Fat loss can be increased by consuming  low fat dairy products as part of the daily protein intake.  Lastly, given the same calorie level, the consumption of whole grains in place of processed grain will give you the edge once again on reducing fat, instead of losing muscle.

So make it a grilled fish sandwich on a whole grain bun with low fat yogurt for dessert.  Fast lunch, and faster performance with super taste.


Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism

 ’Fat burners’ are the most popular supplement group on the market.   What exactly is a ‘fat burner” ?  Manufacturers apply this term to describe any supplement that  increases fat metabolism or energy expenditure for a short time period, increases weight loss, increases the use of fat as a fuel during exercise, or somehow causes metabolic  changes that promote the use of body fat over a long time period.  While there are thousands of fat burner supplements available for purchase on the market, few have any human studies to back up their claims.  Supplements that have been tested on humans include caffeine, carnitine, green tea, conjugated linoleic acid, forskokloin, chromium, kelp, and fucoxanthin.  Of this list, only caffeine and green tea have sufficient data to back up their claims, and the effects on fat metabolism are small.  The other supplements, while showing some promise, need further testing to warrant recommendation for use.

Get Leaner on High Anti-Inflammatory Meal

Athletes sometimes do need to cut some weight but they can’t afford to miss training days from getting sick.  Nor do they want to lose muscle!  It is easy to reduce the calorie count in a meal by about 15%.  That does not mean you won’t feel full.  Research by Barbara Rolls, PhD, at Penn State University showed that by decreasing the amount of grains and meat portions, and subsituting low calorie vegetables, subjects in the study consumed fewer calories.  Even better, they didn’t really notice the amount of calories was reduced.  The bonus of swapping out some greens for grains was a boost in anti-inflammatory nutrients.  If part of your dinner plate is sugar or grease, then replacing more veggies for these foods can have an even higher payback.


Marquette – NOV 19th.  Mary Connor and Donna Marlor  will be at the Marquette Yoga Center to introduce YOGA FOR A  LEAN LIFESTYLE to the Marquette communty.  Described as a yoga  approach to weight loss and maintenance,  Yoga Center owner, Mary Connor said,  “It is a unique  program for anyone and everyone who has ever struggled with body image, yo-yo dieting, eating disorders and of course excess weight.  Based on the 8 limbs of yoga, when combined with nutrition coaching, this program offers a peaceful approach that is effective for managing holiday stress and eating.  Yoga is an  essential part of the program since research studies have shown that so often overeating is not about food.

Technology Can Help Boost Success at Weight Loss and Exercise

When I suggest to a client that the best way to insure success at reaching their weight goal is to keep a daily record of food intake, it’s a suggestion usually met with resistance.  Exercise logs don’t fare much better.  But if you are having problems staying motivated for more than a couple of weeks on a weight loss program, then monitoring with a personal digital assistant (PDA) might be the answer.  Research has demonstrated that when self-monitoring of daily diet and exercise was done using a PDA, after 6 months the group using the PDA technology had more weight loss, and had a higher number of self-monitoring entries than a comparison group using  a paper record.  Perhaps just as important, the PDA group that also received a feedback message ate fewer calories and less saturated fat than the other groups (paper record or PDA only).

 It should not be a surprise that frequent monitoring of goals and messages that encourage us to keep trying make it easier to reach health goals.

Barefoot Running vs. Shoes – Which Burns More Calories?

 If you were to wear your favorite pair of running shoes and run for 6 minutes at 6 minutes per mile, and then repeat the same course the next day using “barefoot” shoes at the same pace, which would burn more calories?  When a group of 10 recreational runners, 5 males and 5 females were asked to run at a 70%VO2max pace, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion were higher wearing regular shoes.  While the difference between barefoot vs. shoes was only 2% on a treadmill, when tested on ground, to run the same pace VO2max was 5.7% higher with shoes.  What does this mean?  If you want to use less effort and win a race, go barefoot.  For the calorie burn, work harder and wear shoes.   Think about it: would you ride a mountain bike during a road race?

Confused About How to Plan a Training Diet?

No More Pyramids!  A welcome change,  the USDA finally has us back to the table, and eating from a plate.  Now up on the web, Choose My Plate  is a back-to-the-basics approach for healthy eating.  A great online tool, the plate method provides a simple, organized view of what foods to choose for balance and fuel.  You can personalize a calorie level and menu plan by entering your age, gender and activity level. Whether a recreational athlete or elite, this basic food guide can make it easier to reach your performance goals.

How to Burn More Calories in the Weight Room

When the scale seems “stuck” despite doing regular aerobic exercise, it might be time to grab some barbells in the weight room.  What is the best routine to maximize the calorie burn?  That is what researchers at the University of Southern Maine decided to find out.  They compared the energy cost of performing a bench press exercise 2 ways: muscular endurance vs. strength routine.  Single-set bench press lifts of approximately 37%, 46%, and 56% (endurance-type) and 70%, 80%, and 90% (strength-type exercise) of 1 repetition maximum were performed.  Because a higher volume of reps could be done at the lowest weight (until failure), the best calorie burn was at 37% of maximum.  Subjects could perform 36 reps at the lowest weight and burned almost twice as many calories compared to the strength-type exercise routine, where only 8 reps or less could be completed.  Bottom line: for the most “burn”, go light and lift long.

Does Low Vitamin C Means Less Fat Burn?


Eating an orange or kiwi may be your answer to burning more fat during exercise.    Most people do not know that vitamin C is involved as a cofactor in the biosynthesis of carnitine, a molecule required for burning fat as energy fuel (fatty acid oxidation). 

Preliminary findings are that subjects who are vitamin C depleted have lower levels of carnitine leading to a 25 percent decrease in fatty acid oxidation per kg body weight when performing a submaximal, 60-minute treadmill test than individuals whose vitamin C status is adequate.