Performance Nutrition

Last Updated: November 29, 2023
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Mission readiness, field training and combat may be the most physically demanding work you do in the military. Proper performance fueling requires training and dedication in garrison and in the field environment.

Performance Nutrition

Mission readiness demands a properly fueled body - this could mean the difference between top performance and mission failure. View your mind and body as a weapon system. To be the most lethal weapon in the arsenal you need to be "Nutritionally Fit." Eat foods that provide top cognitive and physical performance without compromising your long-term health. Poor nutrition in extreme conditions (hot, cold, high altitude) can lead to fatigue, rapid weight loss, injury, illness, and dehydration.

Primary ways to be nutritionally prepared for all missions:

     * Maximize energy stores! Low energy stores = fatigue!

     * Eat a high carbohydrate diet.

     * Avoid skipping meals - refuel every 3-5 hours.

     * Be well hydrated.

     * Minimize fat intake.

During missions:

Make time to fuel. Energy stores run down after several hours and need to be restored with food regularly. Refuel every 3-5 hours - avoid going more than 5 waking hours without eating.

If you don't have a lot of time to eat or won't get a break for a while, make it a point to eat a small amount when you have a chance.

Snack when you can and include carbohydrate and energy-rich choices such as dried fruits, nuts, and trail mixes or save unopened snack items from rations to eat on the run.

Eating calorie-dense and nutrient-rich foods is even more critical when you're exposed to cold and high altitudes. Your energy needs will be higher and your appetite may decrease.

Drink fluids frequently, even when you are not thirsty. Monitor the color of your urine and watch for signs of dehydration. In extreme environments such as hot, cold, and high altitudes, increase your fluid intake.

Eating or fueling for performance enables top level training, increases energy and endurance, shortens recovery time between activities, improves focus and concentration, and helps Leaders and service members look and feel better. For service members it is especially imperative to build an eating strategy that will complement the requirements of their mission. 

For more specific nutrition information, the ComRAD website has specific nutrition information. 

Combat Rations Database External Link provided by DoD. Find accurate and up-to-date nutrition information on individualized rations (MRE – Meal, Ready to Eat; FSR – First Strike Ration®, MCW/LRP – Meal, Cold Weather / Long Range Patrol) and group rations (UGR-A – Unitized Group Ration-A; UGR-H&S – Unitized Group Ration Heat & Serve).

Operational Rations such as Meals Ready to Eat™ (MREs) give you the most nutrition in the smallest package. They are made with real food. Some parts of your MRE may have extra nutrients. In order to get a well-balanced diet, eat at least a part of all the components of your MRE.

More performance nutrition can be found on: 

Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) Performance Nutrition External Link

Operation Supplement Safety External Link

Warfighter Nutrition Guide External Link