Endurance cyclist and pro mountain-bike racer Trapper Steinle (on @trappersteinle) is a nine-time Leadville Trail 100 MTB finisher. He’s also a USA Cycling–certified coach, metabolic specialist, and a personal-training manager at Life Time in Cherry Creek, Colo. Here’s how he fuels for fitness.
Experience Life | Describe your training and nutrition goals.
Trapper Steinle | My “big rocks” are these: Avoid caffeine. Avoid added sugar. Avoid alcohol. I also avoid foods that cause me digestive issues: gluten and dairy.
I aim to exercise a minimum of six days a week. And I believe in the concept of nutritional periodization — that is to say, I strive to make my nutrition match my training program. This means eating more protein on heavy and explosive-strength-training days, and more carbohydrates on heavy conditioning and cardio days.
EL | Do you use tests to inform your food and fitness choices?
TS | Most of my food testing has been through systematic removal and reintroduction of foods, which is tedious and time-consuming. I have leveraged food-sensitivity testing on occasion for direction away from foods that cause my digestive-system issues.
When it comes to testing for fitness, I have found it essential to test heart rates and metabolic efficiency. This information allows me to maximize the efficiency of every single workout and my results. Strength training is not much different: I test and re-test maximal strength as well as mechanical proficiency.
EL | How has your food regimen changed over time?
TS | I used to give little thought to my nutrition. I ate out regularly; these meals were rich and delicious, and they usually included alcohol.
About 10 years ago, I decided to make a change. I joined Life Time and started eating more lean protein, veggies, and fruit. I have spent the last decade making better choices by taking note of the foods that make me feel lousy and those that make me feel great.
Now, in my 40s, I’ve noticed that many of the foods I ate without regard to nutrition no longer agree with me. You could say that my new philosophy on food is that I like to eat what makes me feel the best, and generally this is all-natural, whole foods.
EL | Describe a day in your life.
TS | I exercise between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. and I need to nourish myself properly leading up to that session. On Mondays and Thursdays I work on Olympic lifting, either clean-and-jerk or snatch, and unilateral strength training. Tuesdays I climb the stairs for 60 minutes in a zone 2 heart-rate zone. Wednesdays are a “free” cardio day where I train with any medium at whatever intensity and duration over 60 minutes that I feel compelled to do. Fridays are also a cardio and conditioning day. I do low-to-medium-intensity intervals, staying in heart rate zones 2 to 3 with a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio.
In order to support my rather physical career as a personal trainer and my workouts, I time my meals every three hours throughout the day. I begin with a simple breakfast of muesli with collagen protein and almond milk. Three hours later I eat a serving of homemade energy bites, which consist of almond butter, vegan protein, nuts, fruit, and oats. My lunch three hours later is almost always 6 to 8 ounces of chicken, beef, turkey, or fish along with a starch, such as sweet potatoes or rice and veggies. I love apples as a snack. My workouts are supported by Generation UCAN preworkout and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids).
Dinner is my biggest challenge of the day with two young boys who don’t necessarily like my nutritional philosophy. It’s one meal for them and one meal for my wife and me. My wife, bless her heart, eats what I make with little or no complaints. Dinner looks the same as lunch.
While my diet sounds fairly regimented, I am human. I snack on corn chips, I love salty, crunchy stuff, and eat pizza every couple of weeks.
EL | Do you have any food rituals or superstitions?
TS | My only real food ritual is my pre-race meal the night before. I love to make a nice, home-cooked meal for family and friends. Cooking helps redirect my nervous energy and allows me to focus on giving my body food that will sit easy and provide me with ample energy for the race. I grill salmon and pair it with brown jasmine rice that I cook with coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt. I dice, season, and roast sweet potatoes and make a kale and spinach salad to which I add blue cheese, fresh strawberries, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and a vinaigrette.
EL | Do you have any favorite recipes to share?
TS | Leave your measuring devices in the drawer, you won’t need them for this. Take a portion of salmon (I generally buy farm-raised Atlantic salmon), lay it on a sheet of aluminum foil, skin-side down, and squeeze a fresh lemon on it — I’m pretty liberal here. Follow that up with fresh ground Himalayan pink salt and a dusting of ground ginger. The last step is fresh, chopped dill, enough to cover the fish thoroughly. Wrap the fish in the foil. Throw it on the grill at medium heat for 18 to 20 minutes. When it’s done, no need to let it rest, just dive right in and enjoy!
This originally appeared as “Fit Fuel” in the May 2020 print issue of Experience Life.