Energy Deficiency During Cold Weather Mountain Training in NSW SEAL Qualification Students

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Special operation forces participating in mountain warfare/cold weather (MWCW) training have higher energy demands, but adequate fueling is difficult to achieve. The purpose of the study was to determine energy expenditure relative to energy intake and examine fueling patterns during 3 days of MWCW training in Naval Special Warfare Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Qualification Training (SQT) students. Ten SQT students (age: 23.3 ± 1.8 years, height: 182.3 ± 6.4 cm, and weight: 83.6 ± 4.5 kg) were fitted for heart rate and accelerometer monitors during MWCW training. Total daily energy expenditure was determined using a combination of direct observation and heart rate-VO2 regression. Total daily energy intake was collected using the Automated Self-Administered 24 (ASA24) assessment tool. Total daily energy expenditure for river crossing, alpine skills, and mountain patrol were 3,913 ± 293, 4,207 ± 400, and 5,457 ± 828 kcals, respectively. Reported total daily energy intakes were 2,854 ± 657 (river crossing) and 2,289 ± 680 kcals (mountain patrol), producing 1,044 ± 784 and 3,112 ± 1,420 kcal deficits, respectively. SQT students consumed 258 ± 95 g (3.1 ± 1.3 g·kg−1·day−1) of carbohydrates, 130 ± 55 g (1.6 ± 0.7 g·kg−1·day−1) of protein, and 113 ± 39 g (1.4 ± 0.5 g·kg−1·day−1) of fat. MWCW training evolutions elicited high total daily energy expenditure and inadequate energy intake, especially before and during active training sessions, which may lead to decreased work output, early onset fatigue, and increased risk of injury. Increasing total daily energy intake by providing fuel/fluids, primarily carbohydrates, during the planned breaks and “downtime” of each training evolution and focusing on provision of the balance of calories/macronutrients needed for a more complete and expedited recovery over dinner and evening snacks will help bridge the energy gap.

Beals, Perlsweig, Lovalekar, Beck, Darnell, Allison, and Nindl are with the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Haubenstriker is with Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA. Yount is with The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS.

Address author correspondence to Kim Beals at Beals.Kim@pitt.edu.
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