Basic Training Diet

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As you will no longer have control over your diet (or anything!) once you enter boot camp, the period right before basic training is your last chance to get into tip-top shape so that you can survive the rigorous ordeal to come with a minimum of fuss. Thus, adhering to a strict eating plan is key so that you can show up on the chosen day underweight and ready to train. But, not just any diet will work to prepare you for basic training--it takes the right diet to increase your chances of making the transformation from civilian to soldier.

Diet Parameters

To prepare for basic training, you should act as though you are already enrolled so that you can make the transition more easily. Furthermore, as you will be asked to perform a large amount of running, a low-carb diet will not be ideal for your fitness efforts. A low-carb diet naturally keeps the body low on glycogen (a fuel source derived from carbohydrates). As the body uses glycogen as its primary energy source for moderate intensity aerobic work–in other words, marching and jogging–you will need to keep your glycogen stores high to prepare. Thus, a moderate-carb, high-protein approach is ideal.

Basic Training Diet

Note that being on a higher carb diet is not a wholesale license to eat any type of carb you choose. Avoid consumption of refined (white) flour items and processed foods. These foods include, but are not limited to, white bread, pasta, pastries, and pizza. To maximize performance, all of your carbs should come from fruits, vegetables and whole grains–at least 40 percent of your total calories should come from carbs. This will ensure that you have adequate fuel for running and training. The next 30 percent of your basic training diet should come from high quality lean protein. Protein is the building block of your body, as you will be constantly breaking down your muscle tissue with rigorous training you will need adequate protein reserves to compensate. Consume all of your protein from the leanest sources available–seafood, turkey, chicken, meat and eggs. Finally, the last 30 percent of your daily calories will come from healthy fats. Consume around one-third of your fats as saturates (animal fats) and two-thirds as unsaturates (e.g., almonds, avocados, olive oil and fish oil).

Further Considerations

Remember that you must have a fairly large number of calories daily to support the amount of physical activity you will be performing. Thus, do not worry about specifically counting calories or limiting your intake while on a basic training diet–as long as you choose healthy foods from the above categories, the chance of fat gain is negligible. Finally, you should probably start learning to eat your meals as quickly as possible. At boot camp you will have only three to five minutes to finish a meal, so developing that skill now can help you maximize your chances while serving your country.

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