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Field Nutrition [logo]

Field training in extreme environments presents special performance nutrition requirements. For one thing, in heat and cold and at high altitudes you burn more energy than you do in a temperate climate. Therefore, eat more in extreme environments to fuel your increased energy needs.

Extreme environments create other risks that performance nutrition can help you overcome.

Increased Risks

  1. Hypothermia

    A life threating condition that results when your body can't make enough heat to keep you warm. Along with proper clothing and shelter, food is critical thumping you warm.

    Dehydration can make you feel even colder. It impairs your shivering response and, if you are sluggish because of dehydration, you won't want to do physical activity, which generates body heat.

    When you lose heat, you lose strength end mental alertness. Losing too much body heat can lead to death.

  2. Dehydration

    Even though you may not feel sweaty in a cold climate, you lose body fluid during physical activity. You also lose lots of water through your lungs when you breathe cold, dry air.

    Dehydration can make you feel even colder. It reduces your appetite and impairs your shivering response.

  3. Weight loss

    You might burn 20-50% more energy than you do in temperate climates. It takes extra energy to move in heavy clothing, move across snow and ice, and prepare positions in frozen ground. You also have to stay physically active or shiver to keep warm.

Not eating enough in cold clips can lead to fatigue and rapid weight loss. When you lose we you lose weight, you lose strength and critical heat-generating tissue and insulating body fat.

Overcome Barriers To Eat In The Cold

Extreme cold can make it uncomfortable to prepare food and to eat. To maintain energy, it's important to eat high-carbohydrate foods regularly in the cold. Also, some fat in foods is more valuable in cold climates. It turns to body fat, which helps insulate you against the cold.

Eat warm foods. Heated food and beverages help performance in cold climates. They warm you up. A warm beverage or snack right before sleep can help you sleep more comfortably.

Don't eat unmelted, unpurified ice and snow. Eating ice and snow makes you colder, increases your risk of diarrhea, and can damage the lining of your mouth.

Cold Climate Performance Nutrition Tactics

The Do's
  • DO heat food and beverages when you can
  • DO have a warm beverage or snack before sleeping
  • DO drink more than your thirst mechanism tells you to - at least 4 quart canteens of water a day. Drink 5-6 quarts per day if activity level is high
  • DO melt and purify ice and snow before consuming
  • DO check the color of your urine for dehydration. It should be clear, pale yellow
The Don'ts
  • DON'T diet during cold weather training
  • DON'T try new fad diets, such as high-fat diets which are thought to be good for you in the cold. Changing your eating habits can cause stomach and intestinal problems, which hurt performance
  • DON'T have only cold food and drinks
  • DON'T eat ice or snow
  • DON'T drink alcohol. It lowers your body temperature
  • DON'T eat extra salt or salt tablets. Salt increases your need for water


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