Community Spotlight

Kristen Arnold

Sports Dietitian and Cycling Coach

Kristen is a leading voice in sports nutrition for women.  Kristen not only has a storied history in bike racing, but holds a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and is a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.  

Kristen’s coaching and nutrition private practice aims to understand the intersection between food, athleticism, body image, and self-worth.  Specifically, how these four elements come together to help achieve peak physical performance form a physiological and cultural lens. 

1) The Basics: Who is Kristen?

Sports Dietitian, Cycling Coach, Retired pro cyclist, team sport director for professional women's cycling team, cat person, love hosting a good dinner party.

IG: @kristenkarnold



2) Your first memory of Riding

Out in the corn fields of central Ohio with Sue Tkach, a woman I babysat for at the time. She lent me a titanium GT with a downtube shifter. I had never gone so fast on a bike or had that much adrenaline while riding (other than to ride to class because I was late). Quite the fond memory that has stuck with me at the age of 21.

3) Where is your favorite place to Ride?

Fort Collins, Colorado

4) Tell us about your business - How did it begin? How has it evolved?

I own a private practice nutrition coaching business specializing in sports nutrition for women. I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master's of Science in Human Nutrition from The Ohio State University and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. It began as a way for me to support myself while pursuing professional road cycling, and has grown into a thriving business where I am excited to wake up everyday and help athlete's cultivate their personal bests through nutrition. I have worked with numerous recreational to professional-level athletes both individually and in team settings in a range of sports. Everything from boxing, cycling, figure skating, tennis, mountaineering etc. Check out my passion statement and more about me here. 

5) What do you want your clients to learn while working with you?

I want my clients to learn what nourishment and optimal fueling looks like in context of their personal lifestyle, physiological needs, and athletic pursuits. On top of gaining the most up to date evidence-based knowledge regarding nourishment and fueling, I want my clients to develop sustainable habits and strategies to set them up for success in life and sport. This looks like meeting them where they are at now, and working towards enhanced performance, balanced relationships with food, sustainable energy levels and overall higher quality of life. We do this through education, custom meal plans and fueling guides as needed, and goal setting. 

6) How do you integrate rest and recovery into your routine (now or when you were racing?)

While I was racing I worked with a coach for the majority of my career. Each of my coaches integrated rest days or easy coffee shop spins 1 to 2 times per week, rest/easy weeks during various training cycles, and transition time after the end of each racing season. As a coach working with my athletes, I apply the same rest and recovery time intervals into their training. Depending on the athlete, I will need to show them what actual rest and recovery looks like in a power file and in a 'day in the life'. This is important for them to accomplish the goal of allowing the body to adapt to all the hard training they're putting in. Without rest and recovery, the body cannot gain all of the benefits of the hard training. Here is an article I was interviewed for in Bicycling Mag about how to nail a recovery ride. 

Now in my retirement from professional racing, I have mastered the art of chilling :). I take 2-3 days off of formal exercise and will enjoy a short walk, stretching and foam rolling, or simply enjoying being outside. 

7) After a long ride you....

Drink a protein shake and eat a carb-rich snack IMMEDIATELY after getting home. This is before I look at my phone, sit down, take a shower, or do anything else.

8) Favorite thing to make Pre and Post-ride?

2-4 hours pre ride I have success with oatmeal, a banana, a few spoonfuls of greek yogurt, and coffee. 

Immediately after a ride my favorite recovery snack is a smoothie with banana, dates, soy milk, protein powder, tahini, and maple syrup. The tahini is surprisingly tasty and adds a bit of bitterness after all the sweet foods I ate during the ride. 

9) Advice for those looking to change things up - with their nutrition and traditional routine? 

Try making your own ride food. There are super easy and delicious recipes out there and making them yourself allows you to build a flavor profile that you love. The more delicious the food, the more fuel you will eat on the bike, and the better fueled you will be for your ride.