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Energy availability and nutrition during a Special Force Qualification Course (Q-Course)
  1. Patrick Mullie1,
  2. P Clarys1,
  3. W De Bry1 and
  4. P Geeraerts2
  1. 1 Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  2. 2 Unit of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Staff Department Well Being, Belgian Defence, Brussels, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Patrick Mullie, Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels 1050, Belgium; patrick.mullie{at}


Introduction The Special Forces (SF) are an elite military group usually engaged in physically demanding field operations, resulting among others in high daily energy requirements. Optimising energy supply and nutritional requirements is therefore mandatory for success. The aim of this study was to estimate energy availability and nutrition during a Qualification Course (Q-Course) for Belgian SF.

Methods 21 participants recorded all foods and beverages consumed during four days in a structured food diary. Energy expenditure was measured with an accelerometer and fat mass measured with quadripolar impedance. Energy availability was calculated by the following formula: (energy intake by foods and beverages − energy expenditure for physical activity)/kg FFM/day (FFM, fat-free mass).

Results The mean (SD) total energy expenditure was 4926 kcal/day (238), with a minimum of 4645 kcal/day and a maximum of 5472 kcal/day. The mean (SD) total energy consumption was 4186 kcal/day (842), giving an energy balance ranging from −2005 kcal/day to 1113 kcal/day. The mean (SD) energy availability was 17 kcal/kg FFM/day, with a minimum of 1 kcal/kg FFM/day and a maximum of 44 kcal/kg FFM/day. The mean (SD) intake of carbohydrates was 6.8 g/kg body weight/day (1.5).

Conclusions During this studied Q-Course, energy intake was not optimal as demonstrated by an overall negative energy balance and low energy availability. High interindividual variations in energy intake were found, highlighting the importance of providing SF members nutritional education.

  • energy expenditure
  • energy balance
  • nutritional epidemiology
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  • Contributors PM worked on the original idea for the study. PM analysed the data and drafted the first version of the manuscript, corrected by PC. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript. All authors had full access to all data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Next of kin consent obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the Bioethical Committee of the University of Brussels.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data are available from the corresponding author (

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