News: Nutrition is key to better efficiency, output for body
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - Many Marines spend countless hours in the gym or outside conducting physical training. Whether pushing out that last rep or going that extra mile, physical training is similar to chow – it’s continuous.
Marines spend an innumerable amount of money on different supplements, protein blends, powders and any number of concoctions in an effort to stay healthy, which is tantamount to being a Marine.
What Marines may not be up to par on is nutrition. Nutrition, plain and simple, is what you take into your body, good or bad, for energy, which powers your body.
“It’s what you eat, it’s the fuel for your body,” said Andrea Kawano, Marine Corps Community Services fitness and personal trainer. “It’s like a car. You don’t want to put bad gas in your car. That’s nutrition.”
The body is akin to a well-oiled, well-maintained machine when taken care of properly. And, like any machine, the type of fuel supplied is a direct correlation to its efficiency and productivity.
Choosing the right food to put into your body is very similar to driving your vehicle up to a gas station and debating which type of gas to get. The cheap fuel, e.g., a double quarter pounder with cheese and all the other delicious gooey trimmings, large fries and a large vanilla shake, provide just that – cheap performance. It’ll get you where you need to go, but it won’t improve your overall efficiency in the long run. And without routine maintenance, exercise, your machine will start to wear down and become lethargic.
“If you put bad fuel into your body, you’ll start getting tired, fatigued,” said Kawano. “Then, you can see right after you eat a meal, like a fast-food meal with a lot of grease in it, you’re going to feel tired right after, sleepy. When you go back to work, you’re going to feel like ‘I need coffee!’”
However, if you choose premium fuel, an example being a grilled chicken breast, carrots and almonds, it can provide you with hours of energy and help to increase your durability and lengthen time between “routine maintenance.”
“When you put good fuel into your body, you’re going to feel much better, you’re going to perform better,” said Kawano.
Good fuel is anything which isn’t too heavily altered from its original natural state such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat, added Kawano.
“Anything that comes from the ground or you can pick from a tree its good for your body,”
Fiber also plays a role as it aids not only in digestion but helps keep the body fuller longer, therefore, cutting down on between meal snacking.
Another key component of nutrition, one which may be often overlooked, is water.
“Drink eight to 12 eight-ounce cups of water daily,” said Kawano.
Hydration is key, as Marines know, but hydrating with water also helps to flush unwanted toxins and unused food byproducts from the body. Another key component of nutrition which may sound counterproductive to some is fat. There are several sources of healthy fats, which help carry out daily bodily functions such as olive oil and avocados.
“Try to avoid saturated fats, which is in your butter,” said Kawano.
Potato chips and French fries are also a few sources of unwanted saturated fats to avoid as much as possible unless used as a cheat food once a week.
“You have to have your cheat day,” said Kawano. “Limit yourself, once or twice a week but don’t deprive yourself.”
Nutrition is necessary for a healthy, successful tour within the U.S. armed forces. The better, healthier food choices we make cannot only potentially help us lead fuller, longer lives but could also give us the extra energy we may need in a combat situation or helping our fellow service members.