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Fighting Fit - A Soldiers Guide To Maximising Fitness

No doubt about it! Today’s soldier needs to be both physically and mentally ready for active service, but many simply leave themselves vulnerable with an ineffective approach to personal fitness and well-being.

Whilst I am no longer a serving member, I am currently a defence civilian and still work within the army environment. As a self confessed ‘fitness nut’ who is at the gym 5 days a week (rain, hail or shine) I see all types embarking on the fitness lifestyle. You have the members who are there because they want to be, and the members who are there because they HAVE to be there. No matter what your reason for being there is, you can capitalise on your results from your very next session if you know how.

The KEY is Nutrition…

When it comes to fitness, it doesn’t matter how hard you put in or what you accomplish in a given session, unless you follow up that effort with a sound nutritional approach, then you are short changing yourself in achieving meaningful results. Unfortunately, this is not an area which is covered all that often in the services (unless you have a concern that you tackle yourself), but I believe it should be.

Current lifestyle dictates 3 square meals a day, plus everyone’s favourite – morno’s. The only thing that this type of eating will achieve is obesity and unfit soldiers. It is now commonly accepted among the sports science and medical fields that we need to eat more often to capitalise on physiological changes (ie: increases in muscle mass, increases in physical fitness, reductions in body fat), which have been stimulated by physical activity (ie: PT).

How important is Nutrition?

Think about this for a second. You turn up to PT at 7:00am, and the PTIs absolutely hammer you during a gruelling session which is all over by 8:00am. Now what? If you wait until the typical morno’s session of cakes and sandwiches, that’s 2 hours of NO nutrition. Food is what gives us the energy for play and the building blocks for recovery, so if we are neglecting this important issue, what then? You can almost be guaranteed that the effort you just exerted during PT will be in vain. How can you expect to get fitter, stronger and to be healthier if you are neglecting to feed your body when it needs it the most?

In regards to food, there are typically 4 macronutrients that provide our bodies with energy and they are Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats and Alcohol (hey, I like that). Each is different in their role and the amount of energy they offer:

  • Protein - 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates - 4 calories per gram
  • Fat - 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol - 7 calories per gram

Now instead of boring you with all the details on the different macronutrients and their roles within the body, I’ll just share with you a ‘quick fix’ remedy to fast track your results from all that effort you put in during PT.

Sports Nutrition

Gone are the days, of chalky tasting powders and ineffective products. Today, advancements in sports nutrition have been phenomenal. Now, you can get products, which actually taste great, are convenient and WORK! Some varieties come in individual serves for added convenience and all you need to do is simply mix and serve when needed.

Now in regards to our PT session, as soon as you are finished, drink a high performance meal replacement and you have INSTANTLY satisfied your body’s need for nutrients. You have now provided you body with all the building blocks for recovery and growth, replenished depleted energy stores and provided essential nutrients solely utilised for recovery. You can now kick back, knowing that the most important meal of the day has just been consumed.

Your efforts over time combined with good eating will ensure the achievement of your health and fitness goals.

I know some of you may be sceptical, but there is no reason to be. As a fitness professional and ex-soldier, I would not steer you wrong. It disappoints me seeing so many people struggle through PT (something that everyone should enjoy), not because they are not trying enough, but simply because they are failing to follow it up with a good nutritional program. Just as it is important to have a good training program, place more emphasis on a good nutritional plan and you will be fighting fit in no time.

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