Meat & the military — enhancing troop performance with beef

Navy SEALs implement a meat-based diet to improve health and performance on missions.

Amanda Radke

July 3, 2019

4 Min Read

A few years ago at the Cattle Industry Convention, Marcus Luttrell, Navy SEAL and author of “The Lone Survivor,” gave an inspirational speech that I’ll never forget.

The veteran shared the unspeakable horrors of his war-time experience in Afghanistan, which took his four-man SEAL team on a mission called “Operation Red Wings” to track down members of the Taliban.

On the mission, an ambush attack killed three of the SEALs, and hearing how Luttrell — the lone survivor — fought to survive despite unthinkable odds was truly a reminder of the sacrifice, grit, determination, physical and mental strength and unyielding love for our country that these Navy SEALS have.

If you’ve ever read about the training these Navy SEALS go through in order to perform at their physical and mental best, it is a grueling regimen that would truly test a person beyond their limits.

These elite individuals operate in some of the most dangerous locations facing the most impossible conditions. They are successful because of their strict discipline, training regimen, team-playing and leadership skills, physical fitness and strong mental health.

We could probably all use a little coaching from a Navy SEAL to help us operate at our best at home, in our careers and on the ranch.

Related:Meat must stay on the military menu

So when I see an article that discusses the diets followed by Navy SEALs, I definitely pay close attention.

An article titled, “Navy SEALS are looking into the keto diet to be even more effective on missions,” written by Ellen Ioanes for the Business Insider, shows readers exactly what types of foods these elite military athletes are eating to perform at their peak levels.

According to the article, “The U.S. military has been looking at changing the diets of elite operators like Navy SEALs as new evidence emerges that their diet could enhance their abilities on the battlefield.

“The ketogenic diet is high in protein and fat and very low in carbohydrates. The diet forces the body to go into ketosis, in which the body burns stored fat, or ketone bodies, as energy instead of blood sugar, which comes from carbohydrates.”

Additionally, the Military Times reports, “Service members, and Navy SEALS especially, may have to forgo beer and burritos for skinny cocktails and avocado salad (forget the tortilla chips) if a proposal from Special Operations Command gains momentum.

“For the keto diet to be implemented laterally across the military, produce choices and meat quality at military dining facilities across the world would have to change significantly, not to mention the high-carb and sugar content of MRE’s. The popular pepperoni pizza MRE would be a thing of the past.”

Related:Caffeinated Beef Jerky Tested For Military

These articles, and the studies being conducted that are evaluating the benefits of meat-based diets for the military, are important because our troops, much like the rest of the nation, are plagued by obesity problems.

To further prove this problem, an article that appeared in Army Times titled, “America’s obesity is threatening national security,” shows that many young, eligible men and women hoping to serve our country aren’t eligible to be recruited.

“Out of all the reasons that we have future soldiers disqualify, the largest – 31% ― is obesity,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command.

“A freshly published study, ‘Unhealthy and Unprepared,’ concludes that America’s rising numbers of overweight youth are going to have real impacts on the military’s ability to maintain effectiveness.”

If I may be so bold, the problem we all face — whether the troops or the citizens they protect — is the erroneous Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which impact the diets of schools, nursing homes and yes, the military.

For 40 years, the DGAs have demonized animal foods like meat, butter, dairy and eggs, while pushing copious amounts of grains, vegetables and fruits. Yet, today as a population, Americans are fatter, sicker and unhappier than ever before.

Let’s hope that if leaders like the Navy SEALs implement and find great success and highly-trained and skilled servicemen by following a meat-based diet, that the rest of the nation will follow suit.

Our DGA committee needs to wake up and pay attention. We don’t need more of the same in 2020. We need a radical shift in thinking from what we’ve been told for the last generation. Our physical and mental health would greatly benefit from a meat-based diet, and I’m glad these SEALs have benefited from that way of eating.

As our nation celebrates Independence Day today, I salute the men and women serving our country. Whether they’re at home or abroad, I hope our troops are able to enjoy a healthy burger or brat on the grill today. This rancher appreciates their patriotism, sacrifice and service to make the United States the best nation on the planet. God Bless the USA!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

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