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Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:03 pm
by kman
My rss newsreader has been picking up a lot of stories about how MREs just aren't cutting it for some of the troops in Afghanistan. I think the whole story originated from one reporter's short blurb and quickly balloned into a raft of copycat stories all saying "MRE sucks", "soldiers are starving", etc. None of those articles bothered to actually expand on the suckage or what was causing the soldiers to "starve".

So when I read this latest article from The Chicago Tribune, I thought it was going to be more of the same. But after two pages of reading, it turns out this is one of the best, most well-researched articles out there on the state of current MREs and some of their possible deficiencies.

I'll post an excerpt but I'd encourage everyone to check out the whole story.

From: ... &cset=true
Field rations failing soldiers

Amid reports of weight loss, troops to try meal that has more calories

By Aamer Madhani

Tribune national correspondent

Published March 25, 2007

NATICK, Mass. -- When Lt. Dave Moore visited infantry units in the remote, rugged mountains of Afghanistan late last year, the Navy medical officer was surprised to hear from many soldiers and Marines that they had lost significant weight.

After conducting more than 150 interviews with medics, officers and troops on the ground, Moore concluded that the portable rations called "Meals, Ready-to-Eat"--long derided by troops, but valued by the Pentagon for their indestructibility--were not doing the job, causing the soldiers to shed pounds that they very much needed.

"The standard Meal, Ready to Eat (MRE) does not provide adequate nutrition for dismounted operations in this type of terrain," Moore wrote in his report. "Many Marines and soldiers lost 20 to 40 pounds of bodyweight during their deployment. At least one soldier was evacuated due to malnutrition and a 60-pound weight loss."

Moore's conclusions have raised concern among military leaders, as well as designers of the field rations at the Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center outside Boston.

Moore stressed in an interview that the service members he surveyed represented only a small portion of those fighting in Afghanistan -- infantry troops deployed to desolate locations where MREs and local cuisine were the only options--but nonetheless he concluded that up to 1,300-calorie MREs were falling short.

[Click the above link for the whole story]

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:41 am
by Corsair26
So we beat Hitler and Tojo in WW2 eating nothing but Spam, Hershey bars and smoking Lucky Strikes without any problems. Now we got dozens of varaties of MRE's, UGR's and first strike rations and they seem not to be fill in the bill????? Im thinking the author in the Tribune needs to do a little more research.

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:00 pm
by LogDayFreshHots
PROTEIN-PROTEIN-PROTEIN! If you look at the rations of WWII - and Ive spent at least 20 years researching this stuff - you find rations high in protein like 'loaf' meats, processed cheese, etc. Yes, the 'C' and 'K' rations also had biscuits in them. But the meal itself wasn't loaded with all kinds of goopy sauces nor were they loaded down with 'junk' food stuff. Ive even looked at ration specs going back to slightly pre-WWII that were organ meats.

With the advent of 'fast food' in the 1950s it wasn't long before the American taste bud changed. In Vietnam, the first war fought by a fast food generation, it was discovered during autopsys on U.S. casualties that 18 and 19 year old 'kids' were already suffering the early-stages if coronary heart disease due to the shift from traditional meat and veggies to the increasingly popular fast foods like fries, milkshakes, and so on. These used to be 'treats' every once in a while but quickly became the norm.

Even today the MRE is way too lacking in protein which is the basic building-block for most of the human body. The vital organs, brain, eyes and even bones routinely shed protein. When its not replaced in sufficient quantities you get atrophy. Soldiers in peak physical condition in peace-time soon find themselves suffering from muscle loss due to insufficient protein replacement. The body starts eating itself to get the energy its lacking. Americans have been told for decades to cut back on meats and eat more whole grains and carbohydrates. Now we have more over-weight people than ever before, more diabetics at younger ages and other diseases in near-epidemic proportions. The lack of protein in the American diet today is also suspected of being the cause for otherwise preventable diseases associated with and simply accepted as a part of 'aging'. Remember the egg cholesterol scare? We cut back on egg consumption but cholesterol increased! Why? I know there are other aspects to consider but simply putting nutritional information on a ration doesn't make it healthier. Nor does removing the cigarettes. There are more pressing things a soldier worries about, like lead poisoning.

Gram-for-gram protein burns 2-1/2 times longer than carbohydrates. They also don't require conversion by the body before it can be used as a fuel, unlike carbohydrates. This is why with proteins you don't get the 'sugar crash' or hung-over feeling associated with lack of carbs. Plus in order to covert carbs the body has to expend energy it could otherwise use. This is why eating a candy or sugar-loaded 'energy' bar leaves you feeling more drained about 30 minutes later. It took what little energy the body had to convert that garbage into useable energy. Unfortunately, the body doesn't burn 100% of carbohydrate energy. Whats left in the form of insulin gets stored as fat. Not very efficient and not healthy.

Proteins don't produce 'ups' and 'downs', nor do they produce the thirst carbohydrates do leading to bloating or a lethargic feeling. Another added benefit is that you feel fuller, more satisfied after eating proteins and usually in less time and with less quantity. Ive eaten quite a bit of MRE ham loaf and while salty which I suspect was to get you to drink, I never felt uncomfortable nor did I guzzle water unlike when eating the heavier carb-saturated meals. The fats are necessary as a fuel source also and any extra fat not burned as fuel by the human body is simply excreted as waste, while the proteins replenish muscles, vital organs, and skeletal mass.

The MRE needs a massive make-over with a shift towards proteins being the primary ingredients. The human body doesn't need so much sugar as it produces its own. It self-regulates and even diabetics who have gone to a mosly protein lifestyle have seen improvements in the body regulating its sugar production not to mention the added benefit of excess weight loss. Another side benefit is the lack of heart burn that too much sodium and sugar can produce. Id like to see an MRE with substantially more meat in it, less carbs or at least healthier low-glycemic carbs, and larger portions. A friend of mine was actually discharged as being unhealthy because she became diabetic eating the militarys food! She ate only the rations they provided during basic training and the meals served at the mess hall - ooops. I meant to say 'Dining Facility' for you youngin's!

Another benefit is the waste factor. Not to be graphic but diets heavy in proteins produce firmer waste product and usually in smaller amounts because the body more efficiently burns proteins leaving smaller waste product in the digestive system. This means less mess and less risk a soldier will get sick under field conditions due to sanitary lapses. Anyone who has 'deposited' their MRE in the field knows there are days when those sheets of toilet paper simply aren't big enough or in sufficient quantity. Its usually the time you forgot to throw a roll of T.P. in your ruck or ran out of wet-naps to clean your hands. But with a high-protein diet you can usually get away with one or two pieces of toilet paper.

Personally, I can eat two 16-ounce prime ribs with veggies, skip the potatoes and afterwards feel like I can run a marathon. But give me one reasonable helping of spaghetti and I'll want to pass out for an hour or two and feel like crap the next morning. The military really needs to increase the proteins big time and use cream-based sauces rather than flour. I know there are lots of things to consider when developing rations, but the only way soldiers under intense physical activity will retain their body weight is to make sure they get as much protein and healthy fats into their systems as possible. They don't even have to cut the breads out but instead use high protein, low-gluten breads for their products provided they can meet the requirements of long-term survivability and acceptable taste.

This is why runners look like skin-and-bones. They carbo-load. Their bodies are in atrophy starving for proteins. Thats not healthy. If it were Jim Thorpe would still be running today.

Sorry for the rant but if someone with influence might read this and do something that benefits the troops than it was worth it! My apologies if Ive ruffled any feathers....

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:22 pm
by ak70g2
Sorry for the rant but if someone with influence might read this and do something that benefits the troops than it was worth it! My apologies if Ive ruffled any feathers....
LogDay, thank you very much. I've always eaten eggs, meat and cheese homemade and I don't think I was more than 5 times in an McDonalds in my entire life. It√Ęs good to see an pertinent opinion about the subject.

My thanks for you.

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:35 pm
by LogDayFreshHots
AK70g2 - My thanks to you as well!

Homemade foods are always the best for you. Better nutrition and taste. :D

The tradition of preserving meats and making homemade cheeses seems to be a dying way of life here in America. :(

Sadly we have gone from 'self-reliance' to 'give me convenience or give me death!' :cry:

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:18 am
by ak70g2
Here is a funny thing, Is cheaper to eat from your own garden or yard than to buy processed foods from the store. Also, food additives are too expensive to be in the foods. In my particular case, I enjoy my smokehouse fully. :mrgreen:

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:29 am
by LogDayFreshHots
ak70g2 wrote:Here is a funny thing, Is cheaper to eat from your own garden or yard than to buy processed foods from the store. Also, food additives are too expensive to be in the foods. In my particular case, I enjoy my smokehouse fully. :mrgreen:
ak70g2 - Funny you should mention your smokehouse. I spent Friday afternoon putting the new smoker together!! It will get a break-in over Independence Day weekend in preparation for smoking large quantities of protein and fresh veggies on the Fourth of July! 8)

Your garden is always the best food source. You know what you put in it, so you know what are getting out of it! :mrgreen:

Up north where I usually live we keep a couple freezers stuffed with wild game. Deer, turkey, wild boar, trout and so on. At work everyone brings in their favorite meals for everyone else to taste. We would eat like Kings and predators all winter, spring, and summer. :twisted:

When the new hunting season begins in the Fall you can tell when everyone is getting low on wild meat because everyone is eating lots of deer balogna and handing it out to try and get rid of it so they can make room for fresh meat. It all tastes good, but....

...when we would gather in the work site trailer for lunch it gives everyone 'gas'. :shock:

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:12 pm
by Daithi
As I understand it. An MRE is 1200 Calories per meal, if you eat and drink every single part of it. A British 24 Hour ration pack is 4,000 calories, if you eat and drink every single part of it.

The British approach is to heat every single bit that needs heating and make lot of brews with the copious quantities of Hexi block the CQMS throws at you.

MREs come with one heater pack that wastes the water used to activate it and gives you a choice of hot water for a brew or a hot meal.........

Bin MREs and buy Rat packs is the way forward ;-)

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:37 pm
by jim_w333
I love this post I would do anything to help our brothers and sisters in the field or behind the desk in the armed forces.
It would be nice to have maybe besides the turkey maybe beef jerky or trail bologna n cheese in the mre. I seen those eversafes have a bunch of red hots in
Them. You bring up a very important point on the protein. I say take out or cut down on the candy and throw our soldiers
Some extra meat I have seen a commercial about hummus that is suppose to taste great on Meat? But who am I? That would be great to open up a rib eye steak mre .

Re: Field Rations Failing Soldiers - Great Article

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:53 pm
by carlosflar
I found short ago a slideshow for a presentation on MRE and nutrition in the spanish army from the people responsible of adressing nutritional problems in the troop... On one of the last pages there where ideas in development or ideas for the future, and one of them was the use of nutrition via bandages... I found it quite interesting, it could help avoid malnutrition problems, it would be useless for things like proteins or carbs, that need large amounts and to be digested, but it could help with providing micronutrients to the soldier such as some vitamins and with that in mind, focus the food in the mre to provide more energy rather than being well balanced and having everything a soldier needs...