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.
You may have heard time and time again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that eating a big breakfast could help you lose weight. One explanation for this claim is that starting the day with a big breakfast prevents food cravings and induces weight loss. Is this true? And is there scientific evidence to support this claim?
Some scientific findings suggest that consuming an energy-rich breakfast causes a person to eat less during the rest of the day. Other findings suggest that increasing the size of breakfast is linked to overall greater food intake. A WebMD article examined this conflicting evidence in light of a recent study conducted by a group of German scientists at the Else-Kroner-Fresenius Center of Nutritional Medicine, Technical University of Munich. Naturally, a study has to be well designed and executed in order for the results to hold up to scrutiny by the scientific community. In this case, which involved a large group of participants, several measures were introduced to encourage accurate record keeping and sound statistics to analyze the results.
Generally speaking, the study suggests that individuals who consume bigger breakfasts in hopes of losing weight may actually end up consuming more calories than anticipated, as they are likely to eat the same amounts of food during lunch and dinner that they would following a small breakfast. This particular finding is worth sharing because it creates awareness of this behavior and may encourage people to consciously watch what they eat for lunch and dinner if they do have a big breakfast or, alternatively, reduce the size of their breakfast. This could be a key for people in their efforts to maintain or lose weight.
All the same, we wish to remind readers that there is no magic formula when it comes to losing weight. Well, maybe there is…
Higher Caloric Expenditure + Lower Caloric Intake = Weight Loss
This is a good general formula to keep in mind in your efforts to lose or maintain your weight. So for instance, while being physically active increases your caloric expenditure, reducing a high-fat diet lowers your caloric intake. And in this instance, refraining from eating a bigger breakfast than usual could contribute to reducing your caloric intake for the day.
In short, we encourage you to eat regular, healthy meals. However, if you decide to eat a bigger-than-usual breakfast, balance it out by eating less during the rest of the day. We hope that the results of this study help you make informed decisions about the number of calories you consume for breakfast.
In a study of military youth, risk-taking behavior was compared to national and state averages. The researchers found that risk-taking behaviors among military youth—specifically, sexual activity and substance abuse—were much lower than national and state averages. However, there were still reports of risk-taking behaviors among military youth, so the authors caution not to misinterpret this information—even military children still need guidance. For more information on risk-taking behaviors, visit the HPRC's Mind Tactics "Performance Degraders" section.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about a vitamin solution, Soladek; samples that were tested contained dangerously high levels of vitamins A and D. The FDA has advised consumers currently using this product to stop immediately.
For more information, read the FDA warning.
Following a lead from First Lady Michelle Obama to combat obesity, several beverage-industry companies are voluntarily putting the total calories on the front labels of their non-alcoholic beverages. The American Beverage Association’s 2010 “Clear on Calories” initiative directed that beverage containers of 20 ounces or less carry total calories, while larger containers identify calories per 12 ounces, with full implementation by 2012. For more information, read a news release about this new initiative.
If you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, then it’s possible you’re not getting enough sleep. The optimum amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, and how much you need may change over time. Sleep loss increases your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain. When you can wake up feeling refreshed and without an alarm clock, you know you have gotten enough sleep! Check out these resources for more details:
Research shows that particular styles of fighting often lead to divorce. In successful marriages, both partners are willing to work out problems by talking to each other. If one partner withdraws, the other may perceive that as lack of interest in the relationship, and the likelihood of divorce is high. Successful couples empathize with each other and handle conflict constructively. For more information on how to better communicate with your partner, please visit our Family Skills page.
Lazy Cakes Relaxation Brownies claim to “have relaxation built into every bite.” One brownie (half is the recommended serving size) contains 3 mg of melatonin, a hormone made by the body but also available as a supplement that is often used to treat sleep disorders and jet lag. Selling these brownies as a dietary supplement allows the manufacturer to avoid FDA regulation for foods and beverages. The label warns consumers not to drive or operate heavy machinery and to consult your physician if you are taking medication or are pregnant or nursing; it also says the product is recommended for adults only. Buyers beware…this is no typical brownie.
Saturday May 8, 2010: This was the first day in my new PFT/OCS workout journal.
Three-mile run: never finished
Sit-ups/2 min – 59
"Tough times don't last. Tough people do." – Gregory Peck.
This is the quote that I think about every day while I’m training for my upcoming ten weeks at OCS this summer. I have never been OUT of shape, but lately I have wondering how IN shape I truly am. So it got me thinking of what is the best way to train for this “hell” that I have heard of. I started with the traditional “practice makes perfect” strategy and started running every day, doing two minutes of sit-ups, and trying to do 20 correct pull-ups without failing. I have to admit it was very hard, and I was not seeing results as fast as I had expected. I am a martial arts instructor and can roll with a student for 20 minutes without gasping for air, but after 1.5 miles of jogging, I was contemplating sleeping on the sidewalk of the street! Now, everyone knows that a basic principle of getting healthy is discipline, but it starts with disciplining your mind before your body. I have a couple Marine buddies who have gone through OCS, and they gave me a whole bunch of advice. I combined most of the things I wrote down from then and have found some helpful tips for training for OCS:
- Switch up your training regimen—so that you do not overwork certain muscles in your body. (See the HPRC website for ideas from various military fitness programs.)
- Breakfast is ESSENTIAL!—It gives you the energy to start out your day with a bang.
- Know your limits—do not train to the point of pain. When you’ve had enough, call it quits and start again tomorrow.
- Consistency is the goal—train most days unless you are sick—or incredibly sore from the 1st day, like I was. Every day does not have to be intense. [HPRC specialist’s note: At least one or two days of rest each week is advisable when ramping up to this activity level. The goal is to get to OCS strong, fit, and ready, not broken before you get there.]
- Don’t give up—I imagine that the real thing will be 10x harder then what I am doing to prepare. It helps give me the sense that things are easy now.
Thanks to tips like these—and consistency—I managed to get a 297/300 on my PFT test in December, which allowed me to qualify for OCS training. My score was based off these results:
Three-mile run: 18:09
Sit-ups/2 min: 100
Nine seconds shorter on my run and I would have had a perfect score of 300! Yes, I was extremely happy about this—but also nervous because now I had one year to graduate, and I had to stay in this kind of shape?!
Saturday March 5, 2011:
Basically, for all those people out there who are trying to get in shape for boot camp, OCS, or even just a PFT test, take these tips into consideration. They have done amazing things for me, and I hope they work for you. Now I have more confidence in myself, more energy, and a better overlook on all this. Start preparing your mind today for what your body will be going through tomorrow.
 Physical Fitness Training (PFT)/Officer Candidate School (OCS)
All successful athletes have routines: bouncing the ball three times and pausing before shooting a free throw, having a warm-up routine before every game, or chanting together in a group to get pumped before a game starts. As elite athletes, Warfighters also engage in routine activities to get into a mindset for success: cleaning their weapon the exact same way every time, having a pre-combat check prior to engagement, or putting their gear on in a certain order every day. Likewise, all successful families have routines. Spending time doing fun family activities, chores, or other quality time (like mealtime) together creates stability within the family and opportunities to connect. In fact, these findings have prompted researchers to assert, “Families who play together stay together.” Research has shown that couples who spend their leisure time together are less likely to divorce or separate. For military families, being apart (for deployment or training) can make it more difficult to maintain family routines, but it makes it even more important. Research has found that it is important for children to maintain a consistent routine while a parent is deployed. Some families mark a calendar, have special bedtime routines, or write in a diary while their family member is deployed. It’s equally important that deployed spouses and/or parents develop routines that keep them connected to their families at home. All of these strategies build family strength and closeness, both on the home front and during the heightened stress of separation.
For more strategies to help build family resilience, see the Family & Relationships section of HPRC's website.
Heart disease is the number-one killer for both men and women. A well-balanced diet, along with regular exercise, can reduce the risk of heart disease. New heart disease guidelines were recently issued, with particular focus on illnesses that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. For more information, read the news release and information about the new guidelines, which include information about the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign.