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HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition
March is National Nutrition Month, a good reminder to eat healthfully and choose the best foods to fuel our bodies. This year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which isn’t something we can often say about dietary supplements that come in the forms of pills and powders. If you’re looking for a supplement to lose weight, build muscle, or enhance your performance, HPRC always recommends choosing nutrient-rich foods first. They taste better and are better for you. Use the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) “Real Food” poster to see what foods can help you meet your goals.
If you’re still considering dietary supplements, be sure to visit OPSS where you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions, infosheets, videos, and other educational materials to help you make an informed decision. And remember to always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.
This year, make it your mission to fuel for performance using Go for Green® (G4G). Recently updated and redesigned, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) G4G program promotes nutritious foods and beverages to optimize your fitness, strength, and health. G4G labels foods and beverages with a stoplight system—Green, Yellow, and Red—to identify your best choices for peak performance. Foods are also labeled with Low, Moderate, or High sodium symbols to point out sodium content.
The revamped G4G has a new look that makes it easy to identify and choose foods that boost your readiness. Check out the G4G Background sheet to find out what's new, how you benefit, and why it works.
You might see more nutrient-rich foods and tastier Green-coded recipes being served in your dining facilities or galleys. Fill your plate with more Green-coded foods to perform well on the job, in the classroom, at home, and on missions.
Looking for easy ways to increase your fruit intake with super healthy foods? Think citrus! Many varieties are available at this time of year—at their peak of flavor, availability, and cost. Citrus include lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, clementines, and many others. They contain essential potassium, calcium, antioxidants, and fiber—all of this in a small, low-calorie package!
Citrus have been around for centuries. Long known as a valuable source of vitamin C, British sailors, known then as limeys, took them on board to prevent scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency. If you haven’t been a fan before, experiment by trying new varieties such as super-sweet Cara Caras or tart-and-sweet Mineola tangelos! Here are some delicious ways to include citrus in your winter meals and all year long:
- Lay sliced oranges and red onions on a bed of romaine lettuce and top with kalamata olives and vinaigrette dressing.
- Halve a grapefruit, top with ½ tsp brown sugar, and broil for a few minutes.
- Cube several varieties of oranges and add some fresh mint.
- Arrange thinly sliced oranges and top with shredded coconut.
- Create a parfait of layered oranges, Greek yogurt, granola, and drizzled honey.
Since many citrus have been sprayed with pesticides, remember to wash before peeling—then eat and enjoy! Who knew eating healthy could be so tasty?
How you treat your heart today can add years to your life—that’s the best gift you can ever give your loved ones! The latest research continues to show that eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and minimally processed foods is good for your heart. Reflect on what you eat as this can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure to include these heart-healthy foods in your nutrition plan too: luscious berries, leafy greens, a variety of nuts, and seafood (twice per week).
Want to show some love for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Cards, flowers, and chocolate are ordinary—do something extraordinary!
- Surprise your sweetie with a fabulous meal. If you’re able, dine in this Valentine’s Day. Make a delicious spinach salad and salmon with a nut topping. Serve berries, frozen yogurt, and Chocolaty Delights (see recipe below) for the perfect dessert. You’ll save money, eat like royalty, and provide the nutrients your bodies crave. Don’t forget the candles and your favorite playlist!
- Whip up Chocolaty Delights. Use cooking spray to grease the bottom of an 8 in pan. Blend one can of black beans (drained) and ¾ c water in a blender for 30 seconds. Add one box of brownie mix. Stir mixture well and spread in pan. Sprinkle ¼ c dark chocolate chips and ¼ c chopped walnuts on top. Bake according to box directions or until a toothpick (inserted in the center) comes out clean. Let your partner know that each tasty treat includes added protein, fiber, and iron—go ahead and indulge!
- Give a gift of lasting health. Consider a fitness app, pedometer, or walking shoes. Then invite your sweetheart to work out or take a long walk together.
Want to eat healthy and perform as well as the rich and famous? Often an elite athlete or entertainer has a dietitian or chef to plan meals and even do their grocery shopping. But is following someone else’s eating plan a wise idea?
- Some superstars eat mostly organic vegetables and less fruit. A diet rich in vegetables is healthy, but can be taken to extremes. Eating entirely organic foods isn’t essential. Fruit contains numerous vitamins and minerals plus fiber. The current daily recommendation is 2–3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit. It’s also unnecessary to avoid nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and mushrooms), as it’s not proven that they cause inflammation.
- A lot of performers pick proteins. Their pattern might include only specialty proteins such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken, and duck. These are good sources of protein but duck and beef should be eaten a few times per week, as they can be very fatty. Other good protein sources include eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. Nuts and seeds are higher in fat but contain healthy oils and other key nutrients.
- Many icons avoid sugar and white flour. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sugar and refined grains but it’s unnecessary to completely avoid these foods. It’s best to eat at least 3 whole grains each day: whole-wheat products, brown rice, oatmeal, or popcorn are good choices.
- Some celebrities only eat foods cooked with coconut oil. It’s better to include a variety of unsaturated fats in your nutrition plan.
- Several VIPs dodge dairy. This isn’t recommended unless you have an allergy or intolerance. Dairy contains valuable nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, protein, and potassium.
Want to be ready for the locker room or the red carpet? Follow a balanced plan and eat what works best for you.
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) just released the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines help shape policies for school lunch and breakfast programs, Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC), and nourishment programs for the elderly and military. The skinny is that they’re based on evolving nutrition science. They offer practical guidance on how to develop a nutrition plan too. Remember you can also seek a dietitian’s help to meet your goals towards healthy eating and performing well. Read more here.
Have you been watching what you eat and exercising regularly, but for some reason, the scale just won’t budge? You might be at a “plateau” in your weight-loss journey. But with continued effort and persistence, you can do it! If you want to shed those last few pounds, try these ideas on for size:
- Track it. To keep old, unhealthy eating habits at bay, keep a food diary or record your intake through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) SuperTracker. This online program helps you see where your calories are coming from. Don’t forget to watch your portion sizes too.
- Stick to your plan. Remember the fundamentals of a healthy eating plan: nutrient-rich, lean sources of protein such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. Make sure to include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables too. It’s okay to indulge a little, but too many “cheat days” can ruin all your hard work.
- Eat protein. Protein helps preserve lean body mass (muscle) during weight loss, promote fat loss, and contribute to a feeling of fullness. Use HPRC’s Protein Requirements infosheet to calculate your individual protein needs.
- Rethink your drinks. Alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sweet tea, juice, energy drinks, and sports drinks can add too many calories and prevent you from losing weight. Stick to water and low-fat milk (or soymilk) during meals and in-between to stay hydrated. Three servings of milk per day is the limit though!
- Shake things up. Varying the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of your exercise is a great way to challenge yourself and prevent boredom—and it can make a big difference toward reaching your goal.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is better for your health, career, and performance.
Chia (Salvia hispanica) seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. As such, they have become a popular food item, and you can also find chia (seeds and oil) in many dietary supplements marketed to support heart and digestive health. On its own, chia will not produce a positive drug test. However, when you look at ingredient lists on product labels, don’t confuse Salvia hispanica (chia) with Salvia divinorum (Diviner’s sage), which is banned by some services. There are many types of salvia, so please read the OPSS FAQ about salvia for more information. If you’re interested in learning more about chia seeds, visit this webpage from MedlinePlus.
We all want to serve healthy, nourishing food to our families. But sometimes we let our best intentions get in the way. You wouldn’t head into the woods without a plan, map, or GPS—so why begin your day with little thought about eating well? Start this year off right by learning and putting these easy meal-planning practices into place. Once you’ve established these habits, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to map out your meals. The more you practice HPRC’s strategies—the faster and fitter you’ll be—a huge savings to your body, time, and wallet. Read more here.
Several of the service branches have recently updated their body fat composition standards. The U.S. Armed Forces uses body composition (a measure of a person’s body fat) as one factor to determine a service member’s fitness level.
Each service has its own standards (within DoD guidelines 1308.1) and evaluation methods. Whether you’re a healthcare provider or service member, check out HPRC’s Body Fat Standards by Service Branch infosheet to compare the different service standards.