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Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition

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Rethinking protein powder supplements

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Protein powder supplements are a popular source for packing on muscle.

Protein powder in a cup

Protein powder supplements are a popular source for packing on muscle. The September 27, 2010 edition Health section of the L.A. Times contains an article that poses the question of how much supplements, if any, should one use in building muscle mass?

Read the full article here.

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Control portions to eat fast food healthfully

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Portion control is even more important when it comes to fast food.

It may be hard to avoid the convenience of fast food since it’s inexpensive, tasty, and well...convenient. But with that convenience often comes an overload of calories, fat, and sodium. To avoid these pitfalls, be mindful of your portion sizes.  For more tips on how to make healthier fast food choices, view this guide by

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Confused about supplements?

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Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. The Natural Medicines Database can help.

Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. There are so many to choose from, and we often have to make our choices based on advertising claims and rely on the manufacturers for ingredient information. Does the supplement actually have the ingredients claimed on the label? Will it have the reported effect on our health?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database is the “scientific gold standard” for evidence-based information on dietary supplements and natural medicines, including drug interactions, effectiveness, safety and use, and more. HPRC has partnered with Natural Medicines Database to allow healthcare providers, Warfighters, and military families to search this comprehensive database in order to make informed decisions about dietary supplement use. The Natural Medicines Database also has “Natural MedWATCH,” which allows users to report an adverse event associated with the use of dietary supplements or natural medicines so that they can then forward the report on to the appropriate regulatory agency.

By going to the HPRC homepage, users can access any of the three database choices provided: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database for Health Professionals, Consumers, or Natural MedWATCH. After choosing one of the sites, first-time users should sign up for an account, which is done with an active DoD email address. Once inside this vast database, a user can search for an individual natural medicine ingredient of interest or a brand name product.

The professional version of the database includes:

  • Evidence-based monographs available for individual natural ingredients.
  • Scientific names of ingredients
  • Information on safety, effectiveness, mechanism of action, adverse reactions, interactions, and dosage/administration (which are not necessarily recommended or safe doses) of ingredients
  • Patient handouts
  • Brand-name product searches by ingredient
  • “Natural Product Effectiveness Checker” for medical conditions
  • “Natural Product Drug Interaction Checker” for a list of drugs/natural products interactions
  • Comprehensive information on brand-name products, including ingredient lists and summary reports on effectiveness, interactions, and adverse effects.
  • Up-to-date information for over 60,000 brand name products

The consumer version, for military families and Warfighters, contains the same research-based information on herbal remedies, dietary supplements and other natural products, but in an easier-to-understand version. An important point consumers should be aware of is that it may be necessary to research each individual ingredient in a product before making a decision to use it for health benefits.

So, if you want to find credible, evidence-based information on dietary supplements and/or natural products, search the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Evaluating natural health products can be daunting and there is no other comprehensive, reliable site like it to guide you in making your decision.

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Check out "Life’s Simple 7"™

HPRC Fitness Arena:
An online resource by the American Heart Association lists steps that are crucial to our health.

The Simple 7™ is an easy way to figure out how to achieve good health. This online resource, provided by the American Heart Association, lists seven steps that are crucial to our health. We list their steps for you below:

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Engage in physical activity.
  4. Eat a healthy diet.
  5. Manage your blood pressure.
  6. Take charge of your cholesterol.
  7. Keep your blood glucose at healthy levels.

With Life’s Simple 7™, you'll find out where you stand, how you're doing, and also get you your own personal heart score and health plan.

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Make the next potluck a healthy one!

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Potlucks can be healthy gatherings, too.

Instead of asking your friends to bring their usual comfort foods to dinner at your house, suggest that everyone bring a healthy option instead. Place caloric restrictions or assign different people to fruit, vegetable, or meat dishes. This will help get everyone involved in healthier eating habits.

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Diet: Major piece of soldier's health, fitness puzzle

HPRC Fitness Arena:
As Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. stresses the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy finds itself at the tip of the spear in offering health and fitness insight to its enlisted members.

By G. A. Volb | Army News Service

May 24, 2010

As Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. stresses the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy finds itself at the tip of the spear in offering health and fitness insight to its enlisted members.

Senior Army leadership not only wants a broadly-skilled NCO treading the battlefields of tomorrow, but one that is both physically and spiritually fit. The former is a product of fitness regimens designed to enhance Soldier's ability to withstand the stresses and challenges of today's real - world operations tempo – and diet, not surprisingly, is a major piece to the puzzle.

Dietician Mrs. Jennifer Eiland, left, discusses possible changes Master Sgt. Anthony Jones may want to consider regarding his diet to help better his overall fitness. Jones, a Philadelphia, Pa., native lost nine pounds in just over a month following his initial meetings with Eiland. "I just used a few common sense diet and lifestyle changes that Jennifer suggested," the 44-year-old Jones said. (Photo Credit: G.A. Volb)"The food choices you make and when you eat have a direct impact on your energy level, ability to concentrate, overall feeling of well-being and gut function," said Jennifer Eiland, a dietician and part of the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute's staff at their USASMA annex. "It also affects your ability to complete an exercise session."

Casey, it should be noted, is so big on Soldier fitness that he's made the CSF Program, established in 2009, a priority as the Army tries to focus on the five dimensions of strength: Physical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Family.

The general's intent is to increase the strength, resilience and enhance performance of all Soldiers, family members, and Department of the Army civilians. None of it is possible if the old quip, "You are what you eat" makes sense and everyone is shoveling junk food down their necks.

"Diet is extremely important to realizing health and fitness goals," said the 25-year dietitian from Roy, Utah. "It influences almost three-quarters of the results of our health assessments. It can also influence a person's aerobic capacity; heavier participants typically have lower V02 or lung efficiency as a result. Mood and alertness are also affected by diet."

She stressed that eating a diet full of sugar, salt and fat lowers one's energy level and ability to concentrate, which in turn, can negatively affect school work and a Soldier's performance.

"It affects chronic disease risk on a number of levels as well," she offered. "Obesity increases the odds of contracting cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Excessive sodium intake can increase blood pressure in over two-thirds of the population and risk of stroke and heart attacks according to the latest from the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control."

In a recent letter to the troops, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston emphasized the need for Soldiers to work on all five areas stressed by the CSF Program; most of which can be affected by diet.

"We want CSF activities to become a part of our daily lives, just as we do physical training every day to build and strengthen the physical dimensions of CSF," said Preston in his letter. "We want the members of our team to do more than just cope with adversity; we want them to grow from their life experiences."

"Reflecting on the past eight years of war and our deployment experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can now begin to understand the individual health and resilience problems associated with our deployment tempo," he said.

An unhealthy Soldier is less effective," said Eiland. "A sergeant major's overall health, including how he or she eats, influences their ability as leaders ... and the influence they have on the health choices of their young Soldiers."

Eiland pointed out that a prominent group of retired military leaders want junk food taken out of America's schools because the obesity epidemic, especially in young people, is limiting the number of people who can be recruited into the military, making obesity a national security issue.

On a positive note, she added that many Soldiers have a sincere interest in improving their eating habits.

"A good majority tend to eat more meat and fewer fruits and vegetables than is considered optimal for good health," said Eiland. "Including more whole grains and less processed foods is also an area I frequently discuss with Soldiers. Sugary beverages seem to be a favorite as is eating fast food and microwave meals given their busy schedules. However, if dietary changes are presented in a practical and doable way to them, most will make changes."

The major challenges, according to the dietitian, are getting organized and planning ahead.

"Enlisting uncooperative family members, finding time to cook their own meals and changing an old mindset are also challenges," she said.

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