04-14-2007, 06:26 PM
I'm sure this has probably been asked before, but what do you guys think of military MRE's. My biggest issue right now is simply getting enough calories into my diet, because I don't like to eat(having braces might be part of it, that and when I lost 40lbs I lost alot of my appetite doing so). I read that MRE's have about 3000 calories a peice. I haven't really looked at protein or other things more specifically, but figured I'd start with the basic question. Thanks. Oh, I'm not trying to cut, just trying to pack on muscle.
After alarming report, new ration developed
By Aamer Madhani
March 30, 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."
Natick: 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.
Small sample: 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 he still concluded that MREs, which can contain up to 1,300 calories, were falling short.
Implications: A nutrition deficit, he added, could potentially result in fatigue, impaired brain function and lackluster performance.
A new ration: Recognizing that the reports of weight loss are serious, the Combat Feeding Directorate is planning to ship about 4,000 prototypes of a new meal called the First Strike Ration to Iraq and Afghanistan. Designed for limited use, the ration contains about twice the calories of an MRE.
Data collection: Dr. Andrew Young, a researcher at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick, said his agency has begun collecting data on the weight of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has already found anecdotal evidence that service members, particularly those in Afghanistan, are losing 20 to 35 pounds on their deployments.
Packaging: Much of the problem is caused by heavy packaging, Young said. Troops on dismounted patrols often "field-strip" their bulky MRE packs, bringing along only part of the meals, to reduce the weight of their rucksacks and save room for cargo such as ammunition. In the process, they throw away calories, Young said.
"The MRE is designed to provide the caloric needs of the largest percentage of war fighters," he said. "The issue is operational constraints that are imposed on the warriors that prevent them from consuming the optimal calories."
Meals refused by everyone
The MRE, which costs the Defense Department about $7.25 per meal, was first introduced in 1980 with a dozen different menus, including a few that soldiers deemed inedible, such as Smoky Franks, which soldiers called the Four Fingers of Death, or Chicken a la King, which was known as Chicken a la Death.
When the MRE went to war in the early 1990s, it fared little better with troops on the ground in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, who derisively referred to the rations as Meals Refused by Everyone.
In recent years, the designers of the MRE have focused more on soldiers' tastes, using menus of restaurants in base towns across the country as guideposts.
Soldiers like spicier foods, and there is a greater demand for ethnic entrees, said Judith Aylward, a senior food technologist with the Combat Feeding Directorate. So the directorate introduced such items as enchiladas, chicken fajitas and jambalaya and is soon hoping to roll out a buffalo chicken entree.
I am not sure which version MRE you are eating, but my advice would be to add some healthy snacks throughout the day to make up any additional calories you may be missing. You said you are trying to "pack on muscle", so eating some more calories in addition to the MRE's might be a good idea.
04-14-2007, 06:48 PM
Thanks for the read Andrew. I haven't been eating them yet, but every summer whenever I go hiking and camping I buy military surplus(tan packaging, current issue). I wasn't really thinking of having them as my only food daily, but more as an extra source of calories and nutrition. Nowadays most are quite tastey, contrary to the MRE's of the 80s and 90s that the article talks about. Hell, I think I could live off them if I wouldn't seem like some kind of wierdo.
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