Joint Base Charleston


Ask the Trainer

By Nancy Haynsworth | Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station Fitness and Aquatics coordinator | March 23, 2011

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Nutrition certainly gets lots of attention in the media. Almost every magazine contains articles about the latest debate over high-protein - low carbohydrate diets.Turn on the television and celebrities describe how they lost 50 pounds in six weeks without exercising. With so much information and misinformation out there, how do you choose a way of eating that's right for you?

The Navy, in conjunction with the Athlete's Performance Institute, has developed an exciting new program called Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling Series. This program provides all of the information and science needed to get and keep in shape on both fitness and nutrition fronts.

Navy nutrition principles

Food should be seen as nourishment for the body as opposed to caloric units. Consumers need to consider what food represents in terms of energy and nutrients. Just one food or one nutrient is not the answer to more energy, an optimal weight, better health and improved performance. The key to success lies in the collection of the habits that fuel bodies, activities, minds, performance and most importantly, our lives.
There are five areas of nutrition focus in the Fueling Series: eat clean, eat often, hydrate, recover and mindset.

Eat Clean

Eating clean means choosing the least processed foods. The closer food is to its original form, the better it is.

Nutrient density plays a large role in the mentality of eating clean. Nutrient density is the relationship of the amount of nutrients a food has to the amount of calories. It is critical to try to choose nutrient dense foods to ensure we get the nutrients we need. Choose foods that have the highest amount of nutrients for the calories within the foods.

Eat Often

The key to energy and sustainability is how often food is eaten. By eating mini-meals every two to three hours, the body is given a steady flow of fuel, maintaining blood glucose in an optimal range. This helps maintain focus and keep the metabolism roaring all day long. Eating more frequently results in more energy and prevents hunger.
It is vital to stay hydrated. The body is 60-65 percent water, which performs numerous vital functions, including:
-Providing life and shape to every cell
-Delivery of fuel to muscles
-Lubrication and cushioning of joints
-Aiding in muscle contraction and tone
-Aiding in metabolism and digestion
-Brain function
-Shock absorption for the spine and brain; and
-Regulating temperature.

As little as a 2 percent decrease in weight due to fluid loss, can impair both physical and mental performance.


Nutrition speeds the recovery process. After a workout, the body has emptied its fuel stores and the muscles have been broken down. To gain the most from a workout and perform at high levels, the body needs to repair muscles and replace fuel stores as quickly as possible.

Consuming a combination of carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes of a training session ensures a quick recovery which minimizes the time needed between sessions and decreases the risk of injury.


The final piece of optimizing nutrition is focusing on mindset and behavior. All of the education in the world does not matter if it doesn't lead to behavioral change. Providing simple lists of the "best" foods to choose, easy guides on portion size and presenting material in a concise and action-based way provides the tools to immediately start making changes.

The goal of the Fueling Series is not to provide a diet plan but to focus on habitual intake and the results of nutrition habits. The 80/20 rule promotes balance and the inclusion of all foods. Consume foods that provide the nutrients and sustainable energy needed 80 percent of the time and then other foods the other 20 percent of the time. Everything can fit into a daily "diet," the habitual intake.
How and what is consumed is essential to daily performance. Having sustainable energy is a function of the commitment to making smart nutrition decisions and fueling the body optimally.

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