Supplementary Energy Increases Bone Formation During Arduous Military Training

Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. British Army Physical Training Instructor.  


During initial entry training (IET), soldiers in the US Army undergo the Army Physical Fitness Test.

To assess bone health a study was established to understand whether supplementary dietary energy would increase bone formation.

A member of the research team followed up with the participants' platoons every week to ensure that they were taking the supplements.

The supplements are given to soldiers by their unit cadre.

Stress fractures

A recent study by Ross and Allsopp investigated the frequency of stress fractures among military recruits during basic training.

The researchers compared stress fracture rates before and after the implementation of the Revised Common Recruit Syllabus (RCRS).

The aim of the study was to improve the training program and reduce injury rates. The RCRS syllabus reduced stress fracture rates significantly.

Although the study only covered a small number of recruits, it did show a significant reduction in the incidence of stress fractures.

This study did not examine the cause of the reduction, but did reveal that some of the recruits were still undergoing training when data collection was completed.

Despite the fact that the incidence of stress fractures varies across the different types of military training, a common risk factor for them is sustained physical activity.

The most common cause of stress fractures is repetitive weight-bearing activities, but they may also occur during the beginning of a new activity.

Stress fractures during military training have a marked impact on the health of cadets and increase the time required to return to military readiness.

The high incidence of stress fractures in the military training environment also poses a significant financial burden for the organization.

As a result, it increases the cost of training and the length of the training program. A 2014 study of Royal Marine recruits suffering from stress fractures is said to cost the military £1500 per week in rehabilitation.

Although fractures of the tibia and fibula are the most common, many other areas can also be affected. Most often, stress fractures affect the tibia shaft.

However, the most severe type of stress fracture is the anterior medial cortex of the tibia. Internal fixation is often required to stabilize the fracture.

Acute stress fractures of the foot are often difficult to treat. However, early identification is essential to prevent further injury.

During the first two to six weeks of basic training, the physical training load is increased. The middle eight weeks of service, SRPT is increased to support the increased physical activity loading.

In addition, the cadets undergo grueling combat exercises. These exercises often last for several days.

The rehabilitation time for stress fractures has not decreased since earlier studies. The most common treatment for stress fractures is a rest period from training.

However, this period must be long enough to allow healing to take place. In some cases, pharmacological interventions can be used to decrease the time required for rehabilitation.

Adaptive bone formation during military training

Adaptive bone formation is the process by which bones become more dense, stronger, and healthier during a prolonged period of activity or stress.

This process can be supported by several strategies including proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

It can help create a more resilient skeleton, which may be important for stress fracture prevention during military service.

To assess whether these processes are important for stress fracture prevention, future research should examine the effect of increased protein intake during military training.

This may be particularly important for women who often undergo more demanding roles in the military.

This research could also lead to novel methods of measuring bone strength, which could be used to prevent stress fractures.

The researchers used a high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HRpQCT) system to assess tibia volumetric bone mineral density, geometry, and microarchitecture.

They also collected blood samples from the women at the beginning and end of the training period to assess bone formation and resorption.

Results of the study showed that vBMD increased by 3.0% at week 44. This result is consistent with other studies that have demonstrated early adaptation to mechanical loading during basic military training.

This type of adaptation increases resistance to compressive forces at the metaphysis. Strength is an important determinant of occupational performance.

Musculoskeletal injuries in the military are common and cause significant morbidity. They have also been associated with increased NSAID usage. These injuries have many causes, including physical training.

To prevent the risk of injury, soldiers should carefully plan their physical training schedules.

In addition to the exposure to physical training, soldiers should consider aerobic capacity, body mass index, and other risk factors.

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Effects of supplemental energy on bone formation

It is important for individuals pursuing high levels of physical performance to consume an adequate dietary energy intake.

This is particularly true for combat soldiers and athletes. Inadequate energy intake may delay the body's recovery time and lower the immune system.

It can also have detrimental effects on performance during training and operational activities. Insufficient dietary energy may also increase the risk of stress fractures.

In addition, the rapid and abrupt onset of military training could be a potential reason for bone resorption.

Therefore, the Army is testing the idea of extending IET in infantry soldiers from 14 to 22 weeks to provide more time for recovery and skill training.

In this way, the effects of supplemental energy on bone formation during arduous military training may be more apparent.

These findings suggest that supplemental energy intake can protect soldiers' bones and optimize their performance during arduous military training.

Adequate energy intake can also match the physical demands of training and operations, and provide optimal levels of certain nutrients to support bone health.

This is important because musculoskeletal injuries are among the top causes of lost duty days. In addition, soldiers are highly susceptible to stress fractures, which can be a major cause of bone pain and loss of function.

Studies have found that supplemental protein intakes can enhance muscular mass and bone metabolism in soldiers during arduous military training.

Although these findings are not conclusive, they show the benefits of taking whey protein supplements in the long run.

In particular, women in the military need to make sure that they are consuming adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and iron to maintain optimal bone health.

In order to evaluate the relationship between nutritional intake and stress fracture occurrence in military recruits, researchers evaluated the relationship between dietary intake and bone fractures in a 6-month period.

In addition, they studied changes in anthropometric measures and blood iron and calcium levels during this period. In all, stress fractures occurred in 16% of the recruits.

Optimising nutrition reduces stress fracture risk

A 2012 study has shown that optimising nutrition during arduous military training reduces the risk of stress fractures.

While the exact cause of stress fractures is not known, there are a number of risk factors that increase the risk of this condition. Some of these risk factors are modifiable.

Adequate calcium and 25(OH)D levels, strength training, and weight-bearing exercise are essential to maintain bone health. Stress fractures can be diagnosed by means of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.

Studies have shown that female athletes are more likely to suffer stress fractures than males.

Women with low bone density are at higher risk for stress fractures than women with normal bone health. Menstrual disturbances may also alter cortical thickness.

Overuse injuries of the bones such as stress fractures occur because of repeated loading.

Depending on the sport and the type of training, stress fractures are typically located in the lower extremities. They are common in physically active individuals, and the prevalence of stress fractures is estimated between 6.5 and 9.7% among athletes.

Diet is a significant factor, as it influences muscle strength and fatigue. Training schedule and equipment are other important factors.

Optimising nutrition has several benefits. In addition to improving bone density, it is important to increase the amount of micronutrients.

Women athletes should also take adequate vitamins and minerals, and perform physical exercises that promote bone density.

Research suggests that women have a higher bone density in certain parts of the body than men, including the pelvic area. Furthermore, 25(OH)D intake has been associated with pelvic bone density.

Proper exercise and diet play an important role in optimizing bone health during arduous military training.

While proper training and exercise help maintain strong bones, vitamins D and calcium can prevent stress fractures.

However, more studies are needed before establishing a universal recommendation for vitamin D and calcium intake for military personnel.


The Supplementary Energy supplement is a potential tool to increase bone formation during arduous military training.

Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine have demonstrated that a 2% increase in bone density during basic combat training (BCT) in female soldiers improves fatigue resistance 100-fold. 

Military training is intended to prepare service members for the physical demands of their jobs, while minimizing the risks of injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders.

Future studies should assess the volume and intensity of physical training and determine whether certain combinations of physical fitness increase MSI risk.

They should also study the physical demands of military tasks and assess the components required to perform them.

Future studies should investigate how these findings can be applied to counteract stress fractures.

For example, future analyses of MSIs should consider the duration of NSAID use and the phase in military training before the onset of symptoms.

Also, new data analysis techniques may enhance the identification of MSIs. The findings should be replicated and expanded to include a wider range of patients.

Strength-based tests during basic training are critical for military recruits. Supplemental energy increases muscle strength and reduces muscle fatigue during these tests.

This may help mitigate the interference effect during the training period. Strength is a key determinant of occupational performance.

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