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About Go For Green

Perform Like a Champion!

Go for Green® is a food identification system designed to help you find foods to improve your performance. The color codes—Green (Go), Yellow (Caution), and Red (Stop)—can help you choose the foods that fuel your body and brain best.

High-Performance Foods Go: Eat often (every day or at every meal)
Moderate-Performance Foods Caution: Eat occasionally (select carefully and eat in moderation)
Performance-Limiting Foods

Stop/Limit: Eat rarely (once in a while)

Performance Nutrition means “Nutrition’s contributions to the sustainable execution of cognitive and physical actions by the human body to the greatest degree attainable under specified conditions and objectives.”

How can “Going for the Green” help you perform?

  • Enhance Cognition
  • Delay Muscle Fatigue
  • Accelerate Recovery
  • Enhance Nutrient Uptake
  • Improve overall warfighter readiness
  • Sustain health and prevent disease
  • Boost resilience

Nutritional Fitness means having the appropriate quality, quantity and timing of safe fuels to sustain and optimize physical and cognitive performance before, during and after missions.


Go Sticker [JPG]Green: High-performance foods (eat often)

“Green” foods are everyday foods in terms of nutrient density. Many can be eaten without having to worry about portion size, although some do need portion awareness.

G4G Caution stickerYellow: Eat occasionally (select carefully and eat in moderation)

“Yellow” foods are to be eaten occasionally, and they are still healthy in small amounts. Depending on your health and performance goals, you can choose more or less of these foods daily. A few servings of yellow foods each day are healthy for most.

G4G Stop StickerRed: Eat rarely (once in a while)

“Red” foods are meant to be treats. They have few redeeming nutritional qualities but are often a part of enjoying eating. A few red foods each week will still enable most people to meet health and performance goals.

This system addresses both quality and quantity of food using key calorie and fat parameters for each food group. For service members to perform optimally, both quality and appropriate quantity need to be addressed.

Go for Green® Program Criteria 2015 [PDF]

Go for Green® program criteria are based on the most recent nutrition science and input from DoD nutrition professionals. The coding criteria are based on nutritional quality and wholesomeness along with total and saturated fat content. 


G4G BackgroundGo for Green® – Eating Well to Perform
Downloadable version of this Go for Green® Background page [PDF].

How to Use Go for Green®

Green: Make at least half of your foods "green-labeled" choices!
Make less than 1/3 of your foods "yellow-labeled" choices!
: If you select "red-labeled" foods, limit the amount, frequency, and portion sizes and balance them with "green-labeled" foods.

How Go for Green® Translates to MyPlate

MyPlate shows you what a healthy plate of food looks like. Go for Green® helps you identify choices within each food group to build a balanced, colorful plate through a variety of foods.

Go for Green® is currently available in appropriated-fund military dining facilities.

Go for Green Guide

G4G Guide [JPG]The Go for Green® Guide is available for you to view online, print off a copy, or pick up at your DFAC. The G4G Guide and the G4G Summary Criteria (guidelines used for labeling foods Green, Yellow, and Red) are also available as downloadable PDFs (see links below).

Downloadable version of the Go for Green® Guide [PDF]



Tips to build a healthy plate Eat Often
(Almost anytime)
Eat Occasionally
(Select portions carefully)
Eat Rarely
(Once in a while)


Eat 3–4 cups non-starchy vegetables a day.

Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn are in the Grains/Starches group.

    Fresh or frozen vegetables

    Canned vegetables rinsed to remove salt (green beans, beets)

    No-added-salt canned vegetables (tomato)

    Leafy green salads with dark greens (spinach, spring mix) and vegetable toppings

      Fresh or frozen vegetables with light sauces

      Canned vegetables

        Fried or tempura vegetables

        Vegetables with high-fat sauces (Alfredo)

        Creamed vegetables


        Eat 2–2.5 cups of fruit a day.

        Eat your fruit, don’t drink it.

          Fresh fruit

          Frozen fruits (all types) with no added sugar/syrup

          Fruit canned in water or fruit juice

          Dried fruit (unsulfured with no added sugar)

            Frozen fruit with added sugar/syrups

            Canned fruit in light syrup

            Dried fruit (sulfured)

            100% fruit juice

            Some fruit desserts

              Dried fruit with coatings (yogurt, chocolate, others)

              Dried fruit with added sugar (Craisins)

              Canned fruit in heavy syrup

              Some fruit desserts


                Choose 100% whole grain for at least half of all grain servings.

                  Brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, barley


                  Baked potato/sweet potato with skin

                  Baked sweet-potato “fries”

                  Whole-grain pasta

                  Cereal with less than 10g sugar and at least 3g fiber

                  Whole-grain breads, bagels, rolls, English muffins with 3g or more fiber

                    White rice, couscous, pasta

                    Cereals with more than 10g sugar

                    Sweetened oatmeal/oatmeal packets

                    Grits, polenta

                    Baked French fries

                    Mashed potatoes (no butter or cream)

                    White breads, bagels, rolls, cornbread

                      Biscuits, croissants, full-fat muffins

                      Doughnuts, Danishes, pastries, sweetened breads

                      Processed cereals with sugar

                      Fried rice

                      Pasta with cream sauce

                      French fries (fried in oil)

                      Mashed potatoes (butter and/or whole milk/cream), potato casseroles

                      Grits with added fat


                        Vary your protein choices. Include seafood/fish twice a week.

                        Include beans for protein and fiber.

                          Egg whites/egg substitutes

                          Fish and shellfish (baked, broiled, grilled)

                          Most fish canned in water (except tuna)

                          Chicken/turkey (without skin)

                          Ground poultry (90% lean)


                          Tofu or edamame

                          Vegetable or bean burgers/patties (black-bean burgers)

                            Whole eggs

                            Tuna canned in water

                            Chicken/turkey with skin

                            Pork, ham, Canadian bacon

                            Deli meats

                            Chicken/turkey sausage

                            Beans/lentils with added sugar, fat, ham, bacon

                            Soy patties, links, burgers

                              Fried meat/ poultry/fish/seafood

                              Fried eggs prepared with fat/oil

                              Ground beef, fatty (marbled) cuts of red meat, beef ribs, and corned beef

                              Pork sausage or bacon

                              Hot dogs, kielbasa, bratwurst

                              High-fat deli meats (salami, bologna)

                              Refried (with lard) beans


                                Choose healthy fats and oils.

                                  Oils – olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, sesame, grapeseed

                                  Salad dressings made with these oils

                                  Nuts and seeds, unsalted

                                  Natural nut butters (peanut butter, almond, hazelnut, soynut)

                                    Oils – vegetable, soy, corn, peanut

                                    Salad dressings made with these oils

                                    Mayonnaise made with these oils

                                    Gravy (made with water or low-fat milk)

                                    Margarine spreads with no trans fats

                                    Peanut butter with added oils/fats

                                      Oils – coconut, palm, palm kernel

                                      Shortening and lard

                                      Gravy (made with fat drippings)

                                      Most margarines

                                      Full-fat creamy salad dressings

                                      Cream (half-and-half, whipped, others)

                                      Non-dairy creamer (liquid or powdered)


                                        Choose water instead of sugary beverages.

                                          Water (plain or carbonated)

                                          Flavored seltzers/waters with no artificial sweetener

                                          Decaf tea and decaf coffee, plain Herbal tea

                                          Low-sodium,100% vegetable juice

                                          Non-fat/skim/1% milk

                                            Sports drinks

                                            100% fruit juice

                                            2% (low-fat) milk

                                            Tea and coffee, plain or no more than 2 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp cream

                                            Artificially sweetened beverages of any kind (diet sodas, diet teas, many flavored waters)

                                              Coffee and tea with more than 2 tbsp cream and/or 4 tsp sugar

                                              Sweetened beverages of any kind (sodas, sweet teas, fruit punches)

                                              Whole milk


                                                Compare sugar contents of yogurt.

                                                  Milk (non-fat, skim, 1%)

                                                  Milk alternatives (soy, almond, rice with calcium and vitamin D added)

                                                  Yogurt (non-fat, skim, 1%)

                                                  Low-fat cottage cheese

                                                    Flavored milk (chocolate, strawberry, or other flavors)

                                                    Milk (2% fat)

                                                    Yogurt (2% fat)

                                                    Cheese (reduced-fat, low-fat)

                                                      Whole milk, cream, half-and-half

                                                      Plain yogurt (about 3% fat)

                                                      Cottage cheese (about 3% fat)

                                                      Most cheeses

                                                      Cream cheese, sour cream


                                                        Choose fruit for dessert.

                                                        Choose nuts, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and whole foods for snacks.


                                                          Yogurt-and-fresh-fruit parfait

                                                          Frozen 100% fruit-juice bars

                                                          Milk (non-fat, skim, 1%)

                                                          Other foods from the Green list

                                                            Fruit desserts (made with minimal added fats and sugar)

                                                            Low-fat puddings

                                                            Frozen yogurt and ice milk

                                                            Popcorn, pretzels, baked chips

                                                              High-sugar frozen ice pops

                                                              Fruit pies, cobblers

                                                              Cakes, cookies, most pastries

                                                              Ice cream, gelato


                                                              Fried chips, buttered popcorn

                                                                Most snack foods provide few nutrients for our bodies. Choose whole foods instead.

                                                                Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean protein, and dairy make perfect mini-meals to maintain energy levels and fuel for performance across the day.