13th Jan2012

Black Smoke Ready

by A.J.

This Article was written by one of the TAP contributors:

The following was told to me by a sergeant that has been in the Army for over 20 years.  He has just returned from Afghanistan a few days ago.  We were discussing the different facets of being ready as it pertains to proper tactical nutrition.   What he told me was just one example of how being properly prepared doesn’t just stop at gear, logistics, and weapon systems.  The most important weapon in the U.S. military is the American trooper and if you are not taking care of yourself as a tactical athlete you might be fine for a while but eventually it will catch up you … and that is never a good time.

“When we were in Iraq I was leading men house to house through a town when I noticed Black smoke getting popped by the enemy.  They knew where we were and they were following us though the town marking our movements with black smoke.  My Lieutenant was unaware of what was going on.  I had to tell him the enemy is tracking us and we are going to be engaged.  I told him and the men to be ready because this was for real, and to have their shit together because it was going to get real hot real fast.  Everyone became a lot more alert and a lot more attentive to the mission at hand.  Soon a fire fight between us and the enemy began, and eventually turned in to huge cluster fuck that had me, the now enlightened LT., and the rest of my men moving from our current area to cover and eventually spots of fortification.  When I saw my men moving I saw the (Machine Gunner) running and then stop and almost go into slow mo…  I thought the guy had got shot and then I realized this guy had fuckin cramped up and was now unable to move let alone provide cover fire for the rest of the men moving to  safe position.  This guy was built and had a ton of muscle but it didn’t matter because his body had not enough water to operate.  He had been dipping all morning, no breakfast, and downing Ripits , all the while not keeping his water intake up.  NOW, this dumb bunny is trying to run and not get shot by a bunch of bastards, and falling to the ground every 3rd step calling for help.  My worst fear is this kid would get shot.  My second worst fear is what happened.  We all ended up carrying him, his gear, and the saw.  He was worse than useless he was now a liability for me and my men.”   Not a good  time…

This is a classic case of a guy not thinking and taking the responsibility  to care for himself so that he can be ready if  need be.  First off the guy needs good old H2O.  The Military recommends at least 4 liters of water a day and ideally ½ to 1 oz per lb of body weight per day.   To make it easy 4 liters is a little over a gallon (1.06 gallons).   Also the Ripits do provide energy (Caffeine) but that combined with the Copenhagen is a Diuretic cocktail make you lose water like a sieve.  So not only was his water intake at a minimum but he was forcing what water he did have out of his body.  NOT GOOD.

Besides water he needed proper nutrition in the form of food or a vitamin that had Nutrients to help rid the body of lactic acid.  Nutrients that include:

B-5 or Pantothenic acid — as well as alpha-ketoglutaric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, succinic acid, citric acid and pyruvic acid — is vital for the generation of cellular energy for tissue fuel. Taking vitamin B5 supplements, as well supplementing the other acids mentioned, can prevent and clear lactic acid buildup. These acids also may generate muscle energy, increase aerobic capacity and prevent fatigue. Vitamin B5 can be more effective when used with phosphates, carnosine and bicarbonates.
Pantothenic Acid


Magnesium-rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains and legumes help your body utilize food for energy. A 2006 paper published in “Magnesium Research” explains that magnesium plays a role in the production of energy and the utilization of oxygen. The researchers added that studies suggest that magnesium supplementation may reduce the buildup of lactic acid during physical activity. Additionally, a deficiency of magnesium can allow calcium to remain in the cells, unable to cross the semi-permeable membrane to facilitate muscle contraction. This, too, can lead to lactic acid buildup and painful muscle cramping.

Potassium-a mineral that also acts as an electrolyte, is important for maintaining the balance of water in your body. Additionally, potassium is often lost in significant amounts during strenuous activity, which can lead to water loss as well as increased concentrations of lactic acid. Despite the fact that potassium doesn’t appear to improve your performance in athletic endeavors, it may help temper lactic acid burn and allow you to increase the duration and endurance in exercise.

Finally the idea of using Beta-Alanine would be a great idea too, if the individual is finding himself putting a lot of mileage and on the move constantly.   The reason being is, beta-alanine’s performance benefits are not direct but realized through its ability to boost the synthesis of carnosine. … So what you might say?  (CAUTION HEAVY NERD ARTILLARY AHEAD) Well that has a direct impact by when we exercise, especially when it’s high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles pH to drop (become more acidic). This process is occurring whether you feel a burn or not. The breakdown of ATP and the subsequent rise in H+ concentrations occur in all of our energy systems but H+ buildup is most prevalent in an energy system called glycolysis, which also produces lactic acid. At physiological pH, lactic acid dissociates H+ and is the primary source of released H+ ions during exercise, causing pH to drop. It is the released H+ from lactic acid that causes muscular performance problems, not the leftover lactate ions as many incorrectly believe. While lactic acid is the primary source of released H+, it is not the only source. H+ ions are also being released at a rapid rate when you break down the high energy compound ATP during exercise. With the presence of many sources during energy production releasing H+, pH drops quickly.  As our muscles pH quickly drops, so does their ability to contract forcibly and maintain a high level of performance throughout your workout session. Not being able to perform and maintain forceful muscular contractions and push your body to the limit during your workout session, seriously hampers your ability to maximally overload your muscles and force new muscle gains. In a nutshell, H+ causes your muscles pH to drop, in turn decreasing your strength and causing you to fatigue faster. These limitations stop you from adequately overloading your muscles and forcing NEW muscle gains.
Omega Sports Beta-Alanine

Keeping things like this in mind matters more than we all realize and it’s in hind sight that many of us realize it.  Making some good choices along the nutrient route will always insure your body is ready to respond at a moment’s notice when you call on it to.

5 Responses to “Black Smoke Ready”

  • Great info! I have to say that the US military is horrible in general about providing nutritional options to our soldiers. The chow halls are filled with pecan pies, cookies, fried foods and just about every other type of fattening substance. This couple with a steady flow of ripits, gatorade, tobacco use has severely weakened our military. I figured out a long time ago that if I wanted to maintain my physical fitness it would be up to me to take action. Bottom line if you aren’t taking care of yourself, those are around you will suffer.

  • James Shaw

    When I was overseas one of the privates in one of the other platoons had a brother who worked for Monster. The guys in my platoon were always jealous because those guys were downing the monster the way they should have been downing water. Almost the entire platoon went down because of cramps as heat casualties, my platoon got to go pick em up as QRF, it was a great example of what not to do, that platoon was assed up from top to bottom, they weren’t able to accomplish the mission, and they needlessly put other soldiers in harms way. They were incredibly lucky they weren’t engaged during this time. To totally agree with RE Factor Tactical, your health is up to you…theres more than enough water provided overseas, in bottles no less. Stay fit, the people who are drinking monster and ripits are counting on you to save their asses!

    • Great post, getting some input from guys that have been there to validate the point is always greatly appreciated. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to provide you with great info in the future.

  • Matty

    Seems so obvious, but people insist on drinking that garbage. We had a guy go down while attempting the 2 mile run for the entry pt test for the training team at my SF unit. This guy was a vet, but he decided it would be a good idea to drink 2 cups of coffe and some sort of diet/energy drink called a “Meltdown” before the pt test. Well melt down he did. He collapsed during the run and the medic on hand had to put 2 IV bags in him to get him to come around. After the kid was back among the living, and the medic had a chance to read the wazoo ingredients on this sports drink, which included some form of amphetamine, he just looked at the kid then bounced the bottle off of his head. Needless to say he didn’t make the training team, let alone Selection. Good info on Magnesium! I had good results with it during CG Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School when my muscles were getting thrashed non-stop.

    • Great comment,
      People seem to think that some magic pill is going to replace just being in shape and hitting the gym every now and then no matter how boring cardio is.

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