Five Nutrition Hacks for Tactical Athletes


By Jenna Stedman, MS, RD, CSSD – Tactical Dietitian and O2X On-Site Specialist (Massachusetts National Guard)

The nutritional needs of the tactical athlete are, at their core, very similar to regular humans. That said, tactical athletes do have additional requirements due to their higher work demands.

Essentially, everyone requires good foundational nutrition, and the tactical population also requires good operational nutrition habits. A few challenges tactical athletes may face when trying to get the proper nutrition include: not choosing the proper nutrients, not eating enough, and not eating and hydrating consistently throughout the day. The best practice in fueling for performance is to focus on the quality, quantity, and timing of nutritional patterns.

Here are a few “hacks” to help tactical athletes properly fuel their bodies. 

Hack #1: Hydration reminders

I always say that a hydrated body is a happy body. Just a 1% loss in body weight from sweating can negatively impact performance. Many of the tactical athletes I have worked with do very well setting reminders on their phones or on their watch that cue them to drink water every hour or every two hours. This is an easy tool to help train your mind to remember to drink enough daily.

Hack #2: Keep an eye on fiber content

Fiber is one nutrient we can only get from carbohydrate-rich foods, and it works wonders for the body. If you are looking for longer and sustained energy during the day, aim to include foods that are higher in fiber in each meal and snack. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend about 30g of fiber daily for adults. We have evidence to support even more health benefits from eating well above that amount. Try to make at least half of your daily grain choices whole grains. Aim for at least a third to a half of your meal to be fruits and/or vegetables. Try adding beans to more of your meals. Bonus – fiber-rich foods also help to support a leaner body composition and can help to lower cholesterol levels.


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