Want to Stay in Shape? Learn From Military Special Ops Troops
When you need guidance on healthy eating and exercise, who better to turn to than a certified military physical training specialist? Mark Lauren is one such expert, and he’s on a mission to help us all fuel our bodies like a Special Ops trainee. His new book, BODY FUEL: Calorie-Cycle Your Way To Reduced Body Fat and Greater Muscle Definition, is a look into his nutritional philosophy which stems from his military background.
For 11 years, he was responsible for preparing hundreds of trainees to get lean and strong in record time, since the likelihood of survival and mission success largely depends on physical fitness. Think of his book as a health plan for the Crossfit buff, obstacle course racer, or bootcamp enthusiast. In light of his new book we asked Lauren to give us a Cheat Sheet look into the guiding principles that, he says, keep Special Ops troops in top shape.
Food is fuel
Though tasty food is always a plus, you need to start thinking of food first and foremost as the fuel you need to perform optimally. Base your food choices on how they will affect you after consumption, not during consumption! In my book, Body Fuel, I distinguish between two fuel types — Slow Fuels and Fast Fuels. Slow Fuels are all non-starchy vegetables. Fast Fuels are other carbohydrate sources that are more calorie dense and cause stronger insulin reactions, and they make us either fatter or more muscular, depending on when they’re eaten. Eat Slow Fuels liberally anytime, and eat Fast Fuels in the mornings or after and during an intense activity.
It’s METT-TC dependent
Ask a soldier a question about a military operation and the answer is always, “it depends on the METT-TC.” METT-TC is a military mnemonic that is used to help with mission planning and analysis. It stands for Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops and support, Time available, and Civil considerations. The same goes for your fuel choices. For most foods, there are no categorically “always good” or “always bad” answers; your food choices depend on the situation: your goals, body type, and activity level. For truly optimal performance you have to take all of these things into consideration, and, importantly, not totally abandon the foods you love most. In Body Fuel, I teach exactly how to do this by controlling the amount of Fast Fuels you eat. I also give a 6-week meal plan that is made up of three blocks—these meals cover all your bases.
Hydrate, eat, and rest when you can
We all know that eating healthy is hard to do when you are hungry, tired, or thirsty. Drink water regularly and when you are on the road or have a busy day ahead, spend 5 minutes to pack some healthy on-the-go fuel: fruits, pre-washed and cut vegetables, trail mix, full fat yogurt, boiled eggs, chicken breasts, etc. You already know what’s going to happen when you skip lunch and drive home starving, tired, and dehydrated. Avoid that altogether and use the time you saved not going to the drive-thru to relax for a few minutes.
Just enough is enough
Special Ops troops don’t waste energy or make their lives harder than it needs to be; they cut out actions that are ineffective or energy-depleting; they strive for optimal efficiency. They understand that “champions are lazy” and they automate any and everything they can do to master their efficiency. Take this to heart. Streamline and optimize your fitness and nutritional energy expenditure.