Female warriors need to optimize performance nutrition

| June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

1st Lt. Jessica A. Murray
Contributing Writer

1st Lt. Jessica Murray poses for a photo outside of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Soldier-Centered Medical Home, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Murray is a Board Certified specialist in sports dietetics who supports soldiers at Tripler Army Medical Center and the U.S. Army Health Clinic- Schofield Barracks. (Photo Credit: Mr. Ramee Opperude (Regional Health Command Pacific))

1st Lt. Jessica Murray poses for a photo outside of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Soldier-Centered Medical Home, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Murray is a board certified specialist in sports dietetics who supports Soldiers at Tripler Army Medical Center and the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Ramee Opperude, Regional Health Command-Pacific)

While Congress hashes out readiness in terms of equipment and dollars, the warfighter must understand what readiness means for them.

Readiness at the lowest level means prevention: prevention of disease, illness, weight gain and injury. However, borrowing from holistic definitions of health, readiness is not simply the absence of the aforementioned, but also the optimization of human performance and wellness.

The Warrior Athlete must have the nutrition skills necessary to recognize preventive efforts for themselves, and their families, as well as the nutrition tools to build physical and mental resiliency.

Prevention: Weight and Injury
Injury rates among female Soldiers are 1.2 to 1.5 times than their male counterparts, depending on the age group. Overweight increases the risk of injury by 47 percent. There are four high risk times for a Soldier to gain weight in their career time frame, one of which is particularly important for female warriors: post-basic training, post deployment, post-pregnancy and following an injury.

Changes to one’s nutritional intake should match current weight goals, exercise capabilities and life events such as pregnancy. Additionally, excess body fat increases risk for chronic disease; most people assume being young protects them and they’ll improve their diet later in life when it matters. These same people would be surprised to learn the damage to your body that leads to such diseases starts at a young age. Your investment in your future health starts now.

Key advice
• Bring awareness to your eating habits and weight trends by occasionally tracking your intake and weight utilizing a food diary app (such as MyFitnessPal). Catch an upward trend and adjust before being put on the Body Composition program.
• Progress through exercise appropriately to avoid overuse injuries.
• Understand your hunger cues and eating habits.

A U.S. Army Reserve Soldier pauses between recent weapons qualification exercises at Schofield Barracks. Performance nutrition impacts the total force, and eating habits have a direct result on executing tasks in garrison and in a field training environment. (Photo by Ramee Opperude, Regional Health Command-Pacific)

A U.S. Army Reserve Soldier pauses between recent weapons qualification exercises at Schofield Barracks. Performance nutrition impacts the total force, and eating habits have a direct result on executing tasks in garrison and in a field training environment. (Photo by Ramee Opperude, Regional Health Command-Pacific)

Optimization
While the absence of illness and injury makes one medically ready, it does not necessarily mean that Soldier is ready for the tasks that will be asked of him or her. Proper timing of nutrition around a workout and during operations provides the body with the fuel and nutrition needed close to the time it will be in demand. Such strategies also help the athlete manage weight while performing at desired intensities during their workout. Nutrition recommendations may vary from athlete to athlete; however, the following concepts are nearly universal.

Hydration
Try this experiment; weigh yourself before physical training (PT), and then weigh yourself after. Divide your “after weight” by your “before weight” and times by 100 to arrive at a percentage. If your after weight is less than 98 percent of your before weight, you are in a dehydration zone that could significantly impact physical and mental performance. Impact on performance increases at this level of hydration in warm climates and longer durations of exercise.

More Key Advice
For every 1 pound of water lost during a workout, 2-3 cups of water are necessary to replace those fluids post-workout. Keep tabs on your hydration by checking the color of your urine; a light yellow is ideal.

Supplements
Sixty-seven percent of Soldiers utilize at least one supplement, with women being more likely than men to use supplements. While supplements may range from a chewable multivitamin to a fat burner with a severely questionable safety record, the service member should be aware of several important factors:

1.) Is use of this supplement banned by DoD?
2.) What are my goals and is this supplement helping me achieve those goals?
3.) Is there evidence to support use of this supplement?
4.) Am I taking it appropriately?
5.) Could I get what I’m looking for from food instead? (Did you know 1 cup of milk has 915 mg of leucine and 2 g of BCAAs?)
6.) Am I relying on this supplement to make up for the lifestyle factors I am not willing to change?
Check out OPSS.org for help in answering these questions.

When designing a nutrition plan, consider the amount of nutrients coming from your food calorie for calorie. Empty calories do little in the way of performance and body composition management. Many whole foods are potent sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants, which can serve to boost the immune system, aid in recovery following exercise and prepare the body for the next round of exercise.

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Category: Fitness, Health, News

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