MIGHTY FIT

How intermittent fasting can work on a hungry troop's schedule

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Lange)

Ketogenic, South Beach, and Atkins are a few of the most well-known diet plans that countless people from around the country try in hopes of shedding unwanted pounds. Since most troops in the military can't be as selective with their food choices as civilians, finding a healthy way to shed body fat before your next physical assessment can be tough. After all, those MREs aren't exactly low-carb.

Today, intermittent fasting has become extremely popular within the fitness world. The idea, in brief, is to eat your meals within a structured time frame and then go several hours without taking in a single calorie.


Intermittent fasting has been proven to control two essential chemicals in the body: growth hormones and insulin.

According to Dr. Eric Berg, growth hormones help the body produce lean muscle, burn fat, and reduce the effects of aging. On the contrary, insulin blocks the benefits of growth hormones and causes weight gain.

Intermitted fasting Dr. Berg breaks down the power of intermittent fasting.(Dr. Eric Berg)

So, how can troops, specifically, benefit from patterned eating? Well, we're glad you asked.

We all know the simple formula: If you eat more calories than your body burns, you gain weight. First, people looking to drop pounds start by cutting their calorie intake by lowering the amount of food per meal — which is an excellent start. But every time you eat, even if it's something healthy, your insulin levels spike. In the presence of too much insulin, you simply cannot lose weight.

The solution is to follow a pattern of intermittent fasting. To do so, Dr. Berg recommends waiting at least four hours before eating your first meal of the day. Follow this meal with another two or three within an 8-hour window. After this window closes, don't eat anything for the following 16 hours — until breakfast the next morning.

Members of the 334th Training Squadron combat controllers and the 335th Training Squadron special operations weather team begin a physical training session bright and early (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Troops who undertake morning PT should set their alarm so that they're awake long enough to begin their eating period immediately after exercises come to a close.

Since the availability of chow in the field is continuous, controlling your fasting isn't as difficult as it may seem. Food is available for intake within your 8-hour window, just remember to cease fire on the consumtion once that window has closed.

During your fast, make sure to drink plenty of water. You can also add some apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice to help fill up your tummy after reveille plays bright and early.

Check out Dr. Eric Berg's video below to get the complete breakdown of this exciting health trend.