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
Aim to eat five servings—about 2½ cups—of vegetables every day to boost your health and performance. Don’t like vegetables? Here are some tips to help even die-hard “veggie haters” work a few vegetables into their meal plans.
- Grill your vegetables! Grilling adds those familiar tastes that most people enjoy. Baste vegetables with your favorite low-fat marinade for flavor. Tip: Roasting vegetables in the oven makes even bitter-tasting ones taste sweeter. Try asparagus, onions, and summer squash.
- Add vegetables to foods you already love! Add pureed butternut squash to macaroni and cheese, chopped onions and peppers to pizza, grated zucchini or carrots to pasta sauce, or black beans to canned soup. Omelets are great vehicles for a variety of veggies: spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and more.
- Drink up! There are lots of tasty vegetable juices in grocery stores nowadays. Look for low-sodium versions or vegetable-fruit juice blends. Try custom-blending your own by mixing bottled carrot juice with your favorite fruit juice. Or whip up a nutritious smoothie instead!
- Challenge your taste buds. Do you truly not like broccoli, or have you just never had it prepared in a way you like? Change your cooking technique and try again. Try baking, roasting, grilling, sautéing, steaming, or eating vegetables raw for a different flavor and texture.
- Flavor it up. A little flavor goes a long way with vegetables. Prepare veggies using a pinch of sea salt, fresh or dried herbs or spices, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, or a swirl of balsamic vinegar to turn up the flavor.
- Get adventurous! Just because you hated something as a kid doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same way about it as an adult. Visit More Matters for other ideas and recipes for vegetables.
Boost your meals with powerful veggies! The recommended intake of vegetables varies depending on your age, weight, and calorie needs. This chart from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will guide you.
Freezing your favorite summertime fruits and vegetables enables you to enjoy them all winter long. It’s a popular preservation method because it’s fast and ensures your foods taste flavorful while retaining nutrients. And you can cut food costs by buying your produce at roadside stands or farmers’ markets because their offerings are often cheaper.
Check out the National Center for Food Preservation’s page to learn more and/or try your hand at other preservation methods, including pickling, drying, and canning. HPRC offers some tips to help you start “putting food by” or preserving your favorites. Read more...
Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) has a new infographic about caffeine and performance. Caffeine, which is a stimulant, is found in various beverages, dietary supplements, and even your ration items. While it can help boost your mental and physical performance, it’s important to use it strategically. Otherwise, you could experience some unwanted side effects. So if you choose to use caffeine, check out our new infographic with information about how and when to use it and where you’ll find it. And for more information about caffeine, please visit the OPSS FAQs about caffeine and hidden sources of caffeine.
Feeling low in energy? Underperforming at work, in the gym, or at home? What you’re eating might be slowing you down. Use Go for Green® (G4G) to make nutritious choices that fuel your body and mind, optimizing your energy and performance. Newly updated, DoD’s G4G program promotes nutritious foods and beverages to boost 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 labeled with Low, Moderate, or High sodium symbols to point out sodium content too. Remember: Use these tips to build your energy-boosting plate!
- Aim to fill half your plate with Green-coded foods. You can find healthy, Green-coded choices in every food group: grains, fats, proteins, fruits and vegetables, and dairy.
- Eat consistently to keep your energy up. For best results, include Green-coded foods and drinks with every meal and snack—and stick to a schedule when possible.
- Make nutrient-rich foods the easy choice at home and work. You’re more likely to eat what’s easily available, so choose foods that make you want to get up and go. Stock your fridge with Green-coded items, fill your kitchen cabinets with minimally processed foods, and keep a stash of healthy snacks in your desk drawer.
Service members have enjoyed frozen treats at least since the Army and Navy boosted morale by serving ice cream sandwiches and sundaes to troops during World War II. However, these frozen sweets often contain excess calories and sugar, which can add to your daily calories. The good news is you can whip up healthy frozen treats at home.
The following tried-and-true favorites will delight your “inner child” and still fit nicely in a healthy meal pattern. And they include fruits and dairy—with additional calcium, potassium, fiber, protein, and other nutrients—possibly MIA from your diet. They also can be made for pennies, which is refreshing for your wallet!
- Pudding pops. Prepare your favorite pudding recipe or powdered mix with skim milk. Add chopped peaches or berries. Freeze in molds or 4-oz paper cups for one hour. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze 2 more hours.
- Frozen yogurt sundae. Scoop ½ cup frozen yogurt into a dish. Add one chopped banana and a handful of nuts.
- Banana split. Lay banana halves in a dish. Add watermelon chunks and berries. Top with ½ cup frozen yogurt (any flavor) and 1 Tbsp of crunchy granola.
- Banana pops. Insert a popsicle stick into a peeled, ripe banana. Freeze 2 hours. Put 1 tsp chocolate chips in the bottom corner of a small plastic bag. Melt in microwave for approximately 90 seconds. Cut off the corner of the bag and drizzle chocolate over frozen fruit. Quickly press with 1 tsp crushed nuts.
- Frozen fruit. Portion canned fruit (in 100% juice) or fresh fruit (with juice) into 4-oz paper cups. Or use single-serving fruit cups. Freeze 1 hour. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze 2 more hours.
- Frozen smoothie. Extra smoothie on hand? Freeze any leftovers in ice cube trays for 2 hours. Pop out.
Enjoy and stay cool!
Photo from U.S. Naval Institute
As summer vacation comes to an end, the transition back to school is just around the corner. Now’s the time to review the ABCs of a Total Family Fitness transition back to school: Awareness, Bedtime, Calmness, Diet, and Exercise. This is your chance to lay a foundation for your family’s healthy habits throughout the school year. HPRC's Total Family Fitness approach focuses on the health, wellness, and resilience of your family. It can help optimize and strengthen your family’s performance by integrating strategies that impact their mind, body, relationships, and environment—many of the same strategies used in the Total Force Fitness model for Warfighters. Read more...
Olympic athletes follow a rigorous training schedule with their eyes on the Gold, and what they eat and drink can make a winning difference! Most of them work with sports dietitians to help reach their nutrition goals. However, others can learn from their examples as well:
- Food fuels and nourishes your body to help you perform well. Olympic athletes teach the importance of nutritious fueling every day by including the right balance of foods and beverages for each workout and event.
- Successful Olympians jump-start their days with breakfasts that include protein and carbohydrate-rich foods. This keeps them energized and ready for the next challenge.
- It’s important to keep a healthy relationship with food. Food is more than fuel. Even after eating to meet a specific goal, sometimes it’s still healthy to eat a favorite food just because you’re in the mood. However, some Olympians are at greater risk of eating disorders, especially those who become too focused on body image and develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
- There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to calorie needs. Some endurance athletes take in over 5,000 calories daily. The United States Olympic Committee provides helpful eating guidelines for its athletes.
Remember that the goal for a healthy lifestyle is something greater than Gold: your wellness!
Fun facts: Did you know that the Armed Forces Sports (AFS) program paves the way for service members to compete in national, Olympic, and international athletic competitions?
Let’s cheer on the 16 Armed Forces members participating in Rio’s Olympic Games and those who will compete in the Paralympics next month.
Go team USA!
School still might be out for some, but many teen athletes are already busy with fall sports practices. And knowing what and when to eat and drink can help them be on top of their game. Your teen’s schedule might seem more like a pro athlete’s workout schedule with two-a-days, strength-training programs, and speed training. However, these are often building blocks of teen athletes’ training for sports. Fueling the Adolescent Athlete contains useful information on how they can fuel their bodies before, during, and after practice.
Fueling comes in two forms: what teen athletes eat to provide energy and what they drink to help stay hydrated. Eating nutrient-packed meals and snacks before, after, and even during practices and games is essential for optimal performance. The right balance of carbohydrates and protein work together to fuel and build muscles.
Staying hydrated goes hand in hand with peak performance. It’s often difficult for adolescent athletes to stay hydrated in heat and humidity, but drinking regularly and keeping an eye on their urine color can be helpful.
For more adolescent and family nutrition information, check out HPRC’s Family Nutrition section.
Caffeinated gum is a quick and efficient way for Warfighters to consume caffeine in order to improve physical performance and maintain cognitive capabilities temporarily during situations that demand vigilance. Because the caffeine is absorbed through tissues in the mouth, it enters the bloodstream faster than foods, beverages, and supplements do. In addition to the rapid absorption of caffeine, caffeinated gum offers other benefits such as being lightweight, compact, and providing caffeine in an appropriate amount when needed. However, caffeinated gum might not always be the best choice depending on your situation, needs, and preferences.
On World Hepatitis Day, millions of people help raise awareness about preventing and treating viral hepatitis. The disease—inflammation of the liver caused by virus—results in 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year. Over 5 million Americans are infected with the most common forms: Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. And an estimated 4–17% of veterans don’t know they’re infected. However, unless you or someone you know has the virus, you’re a healthcare provider, or travel internationally, you probably know little about this disease.
Left untreated, hepatitis can damage your liver, a vital organ that filters blood and produces important proteins. Jaundice—yellowing of the skin and eyes—is a major symptom. Other symptoms can include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal issues. It’s harder to diagnose hepatitis because many of these symptoms are common to other ailments too. The good news is that vaccination, early testing, diagnosis, and treatment can help save lives.
Take the necessary steps to prevent hepatitis. Practice safe food handling. Wash your hands well or use an alcohol-based gel sanitizer. Avoid blood-to-blood contact: Don’t share razors or needles. If you decide to get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the facility uses sterile needles. Check with your doctor about available vaccines too.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis, then follow a healthy-eating plan to boost your liver health. Work towards achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight. Being overweight is linked to fatty liver, which can put you at higher risk of cirrhosis. Limit alcohol because it also can lead to serious liver disease. Eat a nutritious diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Coffee consumption can lower the risk of liver disease progression and cirrhosis. And it can help improve your response to hepatitis treatment. So, drink it if you like it. And check with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplements because some can further damage your liver.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page to learn more about viral hepatitis. Remember to help raise awareness about World Hepatitis Day too. And ask your healthcare provider about getting tested if you suspect you might be infected. Seek treatment early.