Hold on to that hard-earned muscle - field snacks
Building muscle is hard work. You need to pay your dues in the gym, get plenty of rest, and eat like your life depends on it. None of those things is a problem when you have access to your gym, bed, and kitchen, but things can soon go sideways when you are out in the field.
For training, pump up the calisthenics to maintain as much muscle as you can. And as for sleep, just grab what you can when you can. Basic rations and MREs are not designed for muscle maintenance, so it’s a good idea to pack some appropriate snacks when you are heading into the field.
MREs are usually low in protein so, for snacks, choose things that will increase your protein intake. After all, protein is the most crucial nutrient for retaining muscle.
Beef jerky is the original field snack. It’s tasty, loaded with protein, and doesn’t require refrigeration. Grab a strip and chew – you don’t even need to stop what you are doing. Beef jerky is usually salty so make sure you drink plenty of water to slake your thirst and maintain hydration.
A lot of commercial jerky products contain artificial additives and preservatives. They didn’t use to be this way. Jerky was originally nothing more than dried meat. If you want a more natural, original jerky product, make your own.
Protein bars are a great way to get protein on the go. Portable, tasty, and easy to eat, pack a few protein bars in your rucksack for on-the-go snacks. On the downside, protein bars can melt and go very gooey which makes them messy to eat.
Oat-based are a better choice than those that resemble candy bars or that are covered in chocolate or yogurt. Sub-zero temperatures can also make your protein bars all but impossible to eat. Keep them next to your body to stop them from freezing solid. Remember to dispose of the wrappers carefully to avoid leaving ground signs.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are nutritional powerhouses. They contain all the nutrients needed to grow plants after all! Nuts and seeds contain protein, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and essential fats. Field snacks don't get much healthier. Nuts and seeds are also very calorie and nutrient-dense, so just a couple of ounces go a very long way.
Don’t buy dry-roasted, flavored, or overly salted nuts and seeds. Instead, eat raw nuts. They are much healthier. Mix with dried fruit to make an energy-boosting trail mix.
Staying hydrated is essential, especially in the field. Dehydration can have a significant impact on your physical and mental performance. Subsequently, in the field, water supplies usually are pretty good. Make the most of this by supplementing your MREs with protein shakes. Protein powder is light and portable. Don't take an entire two-pound tub into the field with you. Instead, decant a few servings into Ziploc bags for lightness and convenience.
Tuna and salmon pouches
Foil-wrapped tuna and salmon is a great way to increase your protein intake in the field. Portable, light, easy to open, and easy to eat, you can even add tuna or salmon to your MREs to increase the protein value of your meal. Alternatively, just rip it open and chug it down as you go. Because the foil pouches are airtight, you won’t need to refrigerate your tuna or salmon. This means these snacks are ideal for both hot and cold deployment destinations.
Getting enough protein is vital for muscle preservation. Adding these protein snacks to your rations will help provide your muscles with more of what they need. It does mean you’ll have to carry a little extra weight but, if you want to hold on to that hard-won muscle, that’s the price you are going to have to pay!