Fueling Champions: Interview with Kyle Pfaffenbach, Nutritionist for the Brooks Beasts Track Club

A photo of the entire Brooks Beasts team

As a seasoned Nutrition Consultant and Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance at Eastern Oregon University, Kyle Pfaffenbach possesses a wealth of knowledge in the realm of sports nutrition. With his expertise working with top-notch athletes, he has observed a common pitfall they often fall into: an excessive focus on strict adherence to both training and dietary regimes.

Kyle is the nutritionist for the Brooks Beasts Track Club (BBTC), so he is no stranger to helping elite athletes take charge of their nutrition. With Lyvecap being the official probiotic partner of the BBTC, we saw this as an opportunity to share Kyle's expertise in nutrition, supplementation, wellness, and more with the community.

Kyle, who holds a Ph.D. in Nutrition, stresses that an effective nutrition strategy is more than just blindly following a rigid system. Instead, it requires a holistic approach that encompasses mindfulness, intention, and customization depending on each individual's needs. 

In this article, Kyle shares his wisdom on health and fitness, delving into his philosophy on nutrition and supplementation. He also provides valuable insights into spotting red flags in the world of nutrition and training, offering practical, scientifically-supported tips for enhancing health and performance. 

Kyle Pfaffenbach's Origins: From Undergrad Studies to Sports Nutrition Expert

photo of Kyle Pfaffenbach, Nutritionist for the Brooks Beasts

Kyle is a highly experienced nutritionist with a passion for sports and sports performance. He has dedicated his education and career to improving the health and wellness of athletes, helping them to perform at their best by building a strong foundation of wellness from within. With a background in Exercise Science and Nutrient Biochemistry, Kyle brings an array of knowledge to his role as the nutritionist for the BBTC.

Kyle's interest in nutrition and performance began during his undergraduate studies in Exercise Science at Colorado State University. It was there that he became deeply involved in the field of performance science, which ultimately led him to pursue a master's degree in Exercise Science and begin taking classes in nutrition. He went on to earn a PhD in Nutrient Biochemistry, where he studied the molecular pathways that play a critical role in disease prevention and cancer.

After several years of working in a molecular biology research lab at the Norse Cancer Center, Kyle took a position as an associate professor at Eastern Oregon University, where he now teaches Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition.

Kyle's journey as a nutritionist for the BBTC began with a conversation with his graduate school colleague, Danny, who was the head coach of the team. The two of them discussed the impact of nutrition on athletic performance, and it was then that Kyle decided to take on the role of nutritionist for the BBTC, a position he has held since 2013.

Kyle's Personalized and Education-Based Approach to Nutrition

Photo of runners from the Brooks Beasts Track Club training in Seattle

Kyle takes a highly individualistic and education-based approach to nutrition. Instead of prescribing meal plans or micromanaging the diets of his athletes, he focuses on educating them about the science and physiology of nutrition. He meets with each athlete regularly to discuss their performance, diet, sleep, energy levels and provides recommendations on meal timing, supplements, and macros. 

“It’s a combination of the art of coaching and communication, combined with evidence-based science.” - Kyle Pfaffenbach 

He aims to create a collaborative partnership with each athlete, not a dictation of what they must do. Education forms the foundation of all his efforts, as it’s a top priority for his athletes to understand how to manage their nutrition independently. Before important races, Kyle will help athletes optimize their nutrition for endurance, energy and recovery, as well as any individualized concerns an athlete may face. 

Kyle works with each athlete to create a well-rounded plan that addresses their physical and nutritional needs, taking into account the unique aspects of their sport and event. He helps them understand the importance of dietary periodization, the idea that different nutrients should be modulated at different times of the year. This personalized approach to nutrition helps athletes perform at their best and reach their goals.

The objective is to optimize an athlete’s weight for specific performance without sacrificing long-term health. For professional athletes, it's important to think about how far out they are from their competition and adjust their diet accordingly to ensure they are healthy not just for the race but for their entire lives. This approach acknowledges that energy dips may occur, but the cornerstone of this method is to prioritize long-term health over any short-term gains.

Kyle also highlights the importance of being proactive in seeking out and accessing the foods necessary for optimal health and performance. By being mindful of their nutritional needs and planning ahead, athletes are empowered to make informed choices that support their overall well-being.

He is an advocate of catering nutrition to each athlete’s needs, as everyone has different food aversions, sensitivities, and preferences. He finds it important to shed light on the fact that there is no universal solution to nutrition, a notion he often encounters in many health and wellness circles. 

The Importance of Trusted Supplements For Endurance Athletes

Photo of the top of the Lyvecap bottle, a professional probiotic for athletes

Probiotics are critical for overall health, not just short-term gain, which is why they are such a positive addition to an athlete’s routine. “Having access to a high-quality, trusted, tested probiotic is rare, ” he says. 

Kyle was motivated to pursue a partnership with Lyvecap not only from a performance aspect but also for the health benefits. The Brooks team has been using probiotics for years, but they were generally just trying to find the best option on the market based on their research. “To find a company with extensive research specifically in athletic performance is crazy,” Kyle shares. 

Since Lyvecap is a third-party tested, Informed-Sport Certified supplement, it’s appealing to high-performing athletes. Although we all have live bacteria in our gut, exercise itself changes the gut bacteria, and gut bacteria also influence exercise.

“Using probiotics in the context of a health-first approach is really important, especially for athletes,” Kyle continues. “It's crucial to keep in mind that all athletes are entirely different and require a personalized approach to nutrition.

Our philosophy is a health-first, whole-diet-first approach. Supplements should only be used to supplement a well-rounded diet and should never be the cornerstone of an athlete's nutrition plan. However, for athletes who are training at a level beyond what is considered normal, individual nutrients in supplement form can be beneficial at times.” 

The Path to Optimal Health and Performance: A Tailored Approach to Nutrition

Kyle is a true expert in the field of nutrition, offering a unique blend of evidence-based science and individualized coaching. His approach to nutrition is both informed and compassionate, taking into account the unique needs and preferences of each of his athletes. 

He empowers his clients to ask hard questions and to critically evaluate the food and supplements they put into their bodies, always with an eye towards optimizing their long-term health and performance. Whether you are an elite athlete or simply looking to improve your overall health, we hope you gained some actionable knowledge from Kyle’s expertise and guidance.