Nutrient Composition of Rations for Short-Term, High-Intensity Combat Operations


Report at a Glance

  • Report Brief (PDF)

The success of military operations depends to a large extent on the physical and mental status of the individuals involved. An individual's physiological and nutritional status can markedly affect one's ability to maximize performance in short-term high-stress, high intensity assault missions and may compromise their effectiveness.

Appropriate nutrition during assault missions is a continuous challenge mainly due diminished appetites of individuals under stress. Many less controllable and unpredictable factors, such as individual preferences and climate, come into play to reduce appetite. In fact, soldiers usually consume about half of the calories needed, leaving them in a state called "negative energy balance." The consequences of being in negative energy balance while under the strenuous circumstances range from weight loss to fatigue and mental impairments.

With the number of these missions increasing, the optimization of rations has become a high priority. Light-weight rations that contain all essential nutrients and food components are being developed with the idea of sustaining physical performance, postpone fatigue, and minimize other adverse health consequences experienced while in these type of missions.

This report, Nutrient Composition of Rations for Short-Term, High-Intensity Combat Operations, reviews the unique circumstances of soldiers deployed in short-term, high intensity missions; by considering health concerns, food intake, energy expenditure, physical exercise and food technology issues, the report gives recommendations on the nutritional composition of daily rations for assault missions.