February 7, 2017, by Matiss Stein – A very frequent question asked when preparing for longer periods out on the field. Can testosterone help an individual soldier keep his focus, readiness, and strength during field training, combat operations or war? First of all, you might wonder why they would even need a testosterone boost. Military troops, when engaged in extended periods of field training or combat training, tend to face muscle and weight loss, fatigue, lack of normal physical and mental function, low immune system increasing the chances of diseases and injuries. The reason I think is obvious, caloric deficit and constant physical activity.
Soldiers during combat are unable to consume their meals like they would consume on a regular day. In fact, research shows that most troops eat an average of 50-60% fewer calories than they should to help keep a stable physical and mental condition. Military medical professionals have confirmed that this situation will result in dropping testosterone levels making the conditions even worse. Testosterone is a known hormone for improving physical performance, general mood, bone density and red blood production. It is essential for the male species especially to those who constantly face physical activities. And like I said above low testosterone levels can and will lead to poor performance, lack of focus, losing strength and muscle size. Numerous studies are applied involving this case.
1. Optimizing Performance in Soldier’s Study
Scientists at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Facility as well as the U.S Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine are conducting an experiment known as Optimizing Performance in Soldier’s Study. The purpose of the experiment is to see if testosterone, in fact, can make a difference in a soldier’s performance and agility as well as if maintaining normal testosterone levels during combat can improve or at least minimize the negative effects from the caloric deficit the troops face. The study includes 50 men, from the age of 18 to the age of 39. It will be done in two phases in which: They will stay at the study’s facility, will be given food and will be constantly monitored during the whole experiment.
In the first phase, they will be only given food to consume, no physical activity. In the second phase, they will be restricted of their caloric intake and put on a diet much like an average soldier would be when on the field. They would be also given a ton of activities to duplicate the activities the soldiers would face. During the second phase, half of the participants will be given additional testosterone doses to maintain their normal testosterone levels. After the 28th day of the second phase, the participants will be given the normal amount for food and monitored for weight gain. Stefan Pasiakos, a researcher at the U.S Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine or USARIEM said and I quote: “The idea is to see if you can stop a soldier from breaking down muscle during calorie restriction and whether they will be better able to perform a repeat mission.” He also said that what they’re trying to accomplish is to find out if not maintaining normal testosterone levels during combat missions can lead to poor performance from the soldiers and if the next mission or training exercises will be executed even worse. This experiment or study is only one of the several ongoing studies to take a closer look at how nutrition can impact cognitive function and muscle mass.
2. The Role of Lutein During Combat Performance
Lutein is a well-known pigment found in certain fruits and vegetables. But what’s it good for? The Air Force Research Laboratory is collaborating with the Center of Nutrition, Learning and Memory on exactly this subject. In what way can Lutein help when it comes down to combat missions? It is questioned if Lutein may help in a soldier’s cognition, memory and learning. The Army is also studying if Omega-3 fatty acids can be a factor in helping soldiers focus. With hope, they can learn if they can improve cognitive performance under stress that the troops are under, clearly only during specific times in their programs.
Nutrition is an important part of a soldier’s fitness said Pasiakos, but with the testosterone study, he is trying to find out what exactly will happen when the soldiers simply can’t feed their bodies with the proper nutrition to function well during those conflicts. He says, “We have tried to match energy requirements and we can’t do it. I’m not discounting the importance of nutrition, not at all, but what we are trying to do here is understand why some of the nutritional interventions may not be as effective as they are in a normal individual.”
About the Author: I am Matiss Stein, a 21 year old fitness enthusiast and I am always looking for new ways to improve my body. I am from Latvia, who is studying in Denmark but currently doing student exchange program in Spain. I am interested in Business, Marketing, Advertising and Sales. Commercially focused, innovative and energizing character with strengths in relationship building and communication skills.