The motocross industry has become filled with trainers and coaches making an effort (and a living) helping the young stars of tomorrow improve. However, a disturbing commonality among most of them is a lack of formal education on the subject they claim to be a professional in. As such, I’m always glad to hear when a trainer makes the effort to find out the “how” and “why” behind the “what.”
Tyler Kalisiak is a former professional racer and after a significant injury in ’08 he decided it was time to charge down another career path. He took classes in sports nutrition, supplementation for exercise recovery, nutritional strategies for athletic performance, fat metabolism/weight management strategies, keys to macronutrient balance, low carb versus high carb diets, and energy upgrade solutions. Armed with experience in the sport and a new understanding of fitness and nutrition, Tyler is making a push on his website, NutritionAnchorGroup.com, and sharing his knowledge. We caught up with him for this week’s Between the Motos
Racer X: Start with your background. You used to race.
Tyler Kalisiak: I grew up in Northern California, and it was probably around age 13 where my parents saw that maybe I could make this a career, so we moved to Southern California. So, 2006 was the first year I did the AMA Supercross Series, so I did that for ’06, ’07, and ’08. The journey up to that was great, through the amateur nationals. It was a great experience, it didn’t work out, but it goes that way for a lot of people.
You had a big accident, too?
Yeah, at the end of the ’08 series, the first jump of the day my bike bogged and it made me endo. It was just a small crash, but just the equipment, the helmet I was wearing, I was in a coma for a month, and collapsed lung and broken femur too.
How did you transition into training?
I was in the retail clothing industry, and it was really cool, anything where you’re plugged in and giving free product out, and managing teams, it’s a fun place to be. But, after a while, being behind a desk wasn’t for me. A close friend of mine, Greg Albertyn, I was talking to him asking what I should do. He was like “Whatever feeling you have, just run with it. It’s like riding a bicycle, if you barely pedal hard you’re going to fall over to the left or the right. So just ride your ass off and let God steer it.” I was like, “Done.” I was always thinking about what’s next as I was heading to the gym, or to my bicycle ride. That’s where my passion always was, the training and the nutrition. So I enrolled in college, Sports Conditioning Specialist and Sports Nutritionist, and that was about nine years ago. I’ve been continuing to take courses, learning, taking exams, building knowledge.
We have a very unique situation in this sport. The trainers are either old racers or old bicycle racers—I’d say that accounts for probably 90 percent of the trainers. Not that it’s all bad, but there are very few that are formally educated. I think it’s good to have that blend—a former racing and some education as to why it works. As a former racer, you might have a good idea on what works, but you don’t always know why. So you’re working with Icon [Sports Performance and Wellness Alliance]?
Well, it started in my garage. I had a three-car garage and I just had it floored and I was running people out of there. It wasn’t long after that I helped a friend build a gym and I moved my practice there. Seasons change and I moved on. It’s great now, Charles [Dao, of Icon] I knew him since my days racing supercross, and he’s just such a quality person and a good-hearted man. I knew he was a healthy person to be around and to trust, and sure enough for the past three years now, he’s letting me take my practice to his facility.
I notice you’re focused a lot lately on nutrition. I feel like in this sport that doesn’t get pushed enough. Is there a lot of stuff folks don’t know?
There is. Our general public here in the States is becoming much smarter about nutrition. How many people do you know that have cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, can’t sleep at night? The general public is seeing the importance of nutrition.
I think there’s so much misinformation out there. There’s so many diets—paleo, vegan, it goes on and on. What’s real?
I preach this on my private Facebook group, but I’ll let anyone reading here join it, it’s just NutritionAnchorGroup.com or Nutrition Anchor by Tyler Kalisiak on Facebook. I’m posting new stuff on there constantly. Google is a phenomenal tool, but you can get the wrong information. There are so many things that contradict each other, so how do we know what to do?
The gluten-free phase kind of makes me laugh. If you’re not allergic to gluten, going gluten free is not going to help. But it’s like people think they can just eat and eat because it doesn’t have gluten. I got a blood panel done and found out I was allergic to milk. I had no idea! So now I do almond milk and stuff like that, and as far as inflammation, you feel a difference. You recommend a blood panel?
One hundred percent. I always say, straight up, there is nothing more important than your health. If it’s going to cost you $200 or so to get that food panel done, to find out what’s killing you or what’s good for you, it’s worth it. I know everyone’s income is different, but in the end it’s cheaper in the long run to avoid those awesome doctor’s bills and those great pills you’ll have to take. My motto is, you only live once, so live it well. I’ve heard someone say “I’ve literally been having McDonald’s for breakfast my whole life and I feel great on it.” And I say “Well if you’ve done it your whole life than how do you know if you ever haven’t even done something different?” Now, everybody is different, but how our bodies are designed is the same. The way we use fats, proteins, and carbs. It’s just what time and how much. it’s different for a lot of people.
So the numbers are the same, but the formula could be different.
Exactly. Someone could have that intolerance you’re talking about, so you need to work around it. Or maybe someone weighs 50 pounds more, so he needs more caloric intake to avoid hitting that wall. It’s hard to go on Google and find that exact program that says “Okay, I eat one hour before and I eat this one hour after. Because it worked that way for this other guy.” Not possible. So when you are in between motos, you want something you can absorb quickly so it can be beneficial again. Some studies say fats are the key to all issues, some say it’s sugar. But sugar, it’s a real killer. You look and it’s in everything—even milk, read the sugar content on that. Even if you’re trying to go the healthy route. You drink a green tea, and it might have two day’s worth of sugar content. Sugar is a destroyer. Unfortunately, it’s one of the causes of diabetes and one of the causes of obesity in America.
When I was racing, that’s what was confusing. I would sweat so much I had to put something back in. Then people would say the recovery drinks were too sugary. So I was trying to figure it out.
There’s all different answers, not just the amount of carbohydrates, but how our bodies process them. There’s fructose, sucrose, different ones that process differently, so when you’re taking some of these sports drinks, or anything, I’ve had an athlete say his stomach hurts when he’s cycling if he tries to eat a banana. That’s because it’s fructose, and your liver needs to process it first before dumping it into your system, and that can cause pain. When you’re doing motos, you need something that is readily available. You need something that is going to process. You’ll see some goo packs have a variety so there will be different releases for the energy.
You look at a guy like Aldon Baker, sometimes he gets criticized that he only takes championship-level guys and wins with them, but you look at some of his guys, Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, there’s no doubt they’ve gotten better working with him. But the criticism he gets is, especially in the summer, those guys are bouncing off the rev limiter the whole time, and they have no fat reserves stored. They’re so lean. These guys look like little cyclists. What’s your take on that? Is it better to be super lean like that?
I would say yeah. I know Aldon, coming from a professional cycling background, and clearly he knows what he’s doing, with the championships he’s won the evidence is there. When it comes to being lean, yeah there is a point where you get too lean and your body can fall back and have huge health effects. But when you’re heavier on the bike, yeah, power to weight ratio is something that everyone can see and everyone talks about, but more than that, the heavier you are, the more energy you need to use. The lighter you are the less energy you need to use. Like I said before, that rider that weighs 50 pounds more, he requires more energy. So you have to find a balance, and you can’t restrict calories week after week. Because then you’ll never be at 100 percent. That might be something that these athletes might not be aware of. If you skip breakfast, don’t think you’re going to be pounding out 30 minute motos no problem. But I think that Aldon has a great formula where he must restrict calories at times, but then give them when it’s needed.
As far as you, where can folks go to get connected?
Right now, first off, that private Facebook group, I’ll accept anyone who reads this. I post free info daily. Nutrition info, fitness info, motivation, just guidelines and tips to use in your daily routine. Nutrition Anchor by Tyler Kalisiak on Facebook. Also @TylerKalisiak on Instagram. I post a lot of tips on there.
I do offer fitness programs, I don’t want to name names but there are a lot of top riders I work with right now doing nutrition consulting. You can email me at email@example.com if you want to get into that. I can always answer that and answer questions, not just for riders but even for the general public. I’ve had people I’ve worked with, not even riders, just the general public, call me crying because they were trying something they say on Google, and then I got them on a program and they haven’t been this light in 2 years, and it’s only been a month.
You and I have discussed the importance of nutrition. For the general public, if you had to choose between exercising or eating right, you’ll have way better results if you just eat right. I’m guilty of this too—I’ll try to work my butt off at the gym to try to make up for a bad diet. If you really want the results, performance wise or looks, you need both.
There have been studies done where one percent of the public reaches goals on exercise alone. Ten percent of the public reaches the goals on nutrition alone—which means that’s 10 times better. But when you combine exercise and diet, it’s an 80 percent return. A lot of people exercise alone, and granted some of them may look like they can be on the cover of a magazine because they’re just gifted by God to look like that. But regardless, you’re still not going to be healthy. If you exercise just to eat like crap, you’re not going to have a healthy life.