Precision Performance Nutrition What Can Special Operations Forces Communities Expect?

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Conkright W, Deuster PA 19(1). 107 - 112 (Journal Article)

Modern-day warfare and operational tempo require Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel to be ready and able to perform optimally on the battlefield at all times. To do this, US Special Operations Command has invested in high-performance training centers and human performance staff, including performance dietitians. Performance dietitians are critical, because it is widely recognized that nutrition affects all aspects of health and performance, particularly for the SOF Operator. These aspects include everything from physical and sensory to psychosocial and cognitive factors, as well as environmental exposures and genetic predispositions. The impact of nutrition on performance has been well established, with specific recommendations and position stands on fueling for athletics from multiple international organizations. However, sports nutrition guidelines are based on outcomes from sample means rather than individual changes in performance. Precision performance nutrition solutions must include a systems-based approach and consider the individuality of the Operator along with their interactions with their environment. The purpose of this article is to summarize what is known about performance nutrition and outline what can be done to move toward personalized precision nutrition. We discuss pitfalls and challenges with regard to mission-specific goals, optimization versus adaptation, and longitudinal tracking; and present our view of the future.

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