Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Role of nutrition in human performance in military populations
  1. Jonathan M Scott and
  2. P A Deuster
  1. Consortium for Health and Military Performance, Military and Emergency Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan M Scott, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, F Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Bethesda, USA; jonathan.scott{at}


The role of nutrition and performance is well established. Service members’ physical and cognitive performance, sleep and mood are impacted by nutritional choices. Although many eating patterns have emerged, consensus among experts recommend a dietary pattern focused on predominantly whole plant-based foods. Adequate intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds should be prioritised. Implementation of strategic and intentional fuelling strategies around times of activity maintain adequate energy stores, enhance recovery and protect against training injuries. Carbohydrates are prioritised before, during and after activity or a mission, although the type and amount will vary based on duration and intensity of activity. Protein is generally the focus after activity or a mission and may be included before activity depending on individual tolerance. There are no specific recommendations for fat consumption before, during and after exercise that will improve performance. That said, Service members generally tolerate low-fat meals/snacks prior to exercise, limit fat intake during exercise, may include fat as part of the post exercise meal/snack, and generally consume most fat during the maintenance and growth phase. Careful consideration and planning for food and fluid requirements should be made when Service members are exposed to heat, cold and/or altitude. Operational rations are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of all Service members across a variety of diverse climates, environments and altitudes. Service members may use dietary supplements to improve their performance and need to be aware of available resources to help them make informed decisions.

  • nutrition & dietetics
  • preventive medicine
  • sports medicine

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors JMS and PAD conceived the paper. JMS wrote the initial draft. PAD revised the draft and provided additional input. JMS and PAD read and approved the final draft.

  • 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.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.