The Best Diet for Firefighters and Police
As an emergency responder there is a lot of uncertainty when you clock into your shift. In fact, only one thing is pretty certain - you will get hungry and have to eat.
Unfortunately, as first responders, we are limited to what we can eat because of busy days, sparse selection, and the peer pressure that comes with the territory. We have to be cognizant of what we are putting into our bodies because our performance can be adversely affected. It’s like the analogy goes: if you owned a Lamborghini you wouldn’t put the cheap fuel into it, so why would you do the same to your body by filling it with junk food? Well, in the emergency responders case the “Lamborghini” can actually save peoples lives, so premium fuel is a must.
The Warrior Twenty
The best diets and workout programs are the ones that fit best into our lifestyle. Focusing on the right meals that are loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals will help promote muscle growth, mental longevity, recovery, and muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
The following foods are called the “Warrior Twenty.” These are the foods that should fill your kitchen. There’s something to be said about the actual amount of different foods in your refrigerator. Take a peek inside the kitchen of any Olympic or elite athlete and I can guarantee that the variety of different foods they eat is not a lot. So whether you’re at the firehouse, the police station, or simply have a cooler in your car, the same rules should apply. These twenty foods will help you build more muscle, power, and endurance, and help cut some extra fat.
It may not be the most elaborate diet, but it’s simple. Being simple makes it easier to stick with and, more importantly, sticking with something consistently makes it a habit. The formula is even easy, too. The more you stick with eating just these twenty foods the better. If you add more variety to the twenty, then you will most likely be moving away from your goal.
Most people don’t consume enough protein, which hinders the muscle building and repairing process.
1. Whole Eggs: Eat whole eggs, not whites. Look for the words “free range,” “cage-free,” or “omega-3” on your egg cartons.
2. Lean Meats: Chicken, turkey, lean cuts of pork (like tenderloin), beef, along with wild game (buffalo, venison, elk, ostrich, rabbit).
3. Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies can help to increase mood during your long shifts and stressful calls.
4. Fermented Soy: This produces natural antibiotic agents to increase the body’s resistance to infections.
The following are excellent sources of fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer, control blood sugar, and prevent cravings when everyone else on your shift is getting second helpings.
5. Beans: Small red beans, kidney beans, chick peas, and black beans are all loaded with magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium.
6. Lentils: Low in calories and perfect for reducing your chances of heart disease.
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Seems like Mom was onto something when she used to make you eat all of them before leaving the dinner table as a kid.
7. Tomatoes: They can help with connective tissue strength and even help to improve vision.
8. Spinach: Packed with Vitamin K, which contributes to building stronger bones.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables: Packing your plate at the firehouse with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts will leave you feeling fuller longer in-between meals.
Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber just like their cousin Veggies.
10. Avocados: Studies have shown that avocadoes can reduce cholesterol and even help you burn fat.
11. Citrus Fruits: Oranges and grapefruit are packed with vitamin C, which will help you avoid sick days and keep your immune system in top shape to keep you performing at 100%.
12. Berries: Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cranberries can keep your memory strong.
Starches and Whole Grains
These are your energy creators. Other diets that have you avoid carbohydrates are not meant for anyone who has a physical job.
13. Sweet Potatoes and Yams: These act as your body’s storage tank for energy. You better have just the right amount of energy if you’re going to be fighting a fire or chasing after a perp.
14. Quinoa: High in protein, but more importantly, high in riboflavin, which has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines. If there's someone who deals with enough migraines, it's emergency workers.
15. Amaranth: A great solution to having more fiber since it contains three times more than wheat.
Eating the right ones can help control your hormones, which is important for obvious reasons.
16. Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios can all help reduce inflammation and even lead to a better mood and mental process. Can also be eaten in nut butter form.
17. Seeds: Flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin all contain good fats that help you feel fuller for longer.
18. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: This is high in antioxidants and the healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help to control your cholesterol.
19. Water: Water makes up approximately 70% of our body and is crucial for every metabolic process. I suggest carrying around a gallon of water while you’re at work, especially on hot days when your uniform a
nd gear will cause you to lose more water than normal.
20. Green Tea: A chemical in green tea called EGCG can help lower cortisol (your stress hormone) and increase your immune system after long shifts.
This Warrior Twenty is perfect for anyone who has ever struggled with diets or finding good balance with their nutrition. By focusing on foods that you can eat versus avoiding foods that you cannot, you’ll increase the chance of sticking with the diet. This will have many benefits - making you look good, feel good, and have a healthy career.
1. Rooney, M. “Warrior Cardio - The Revolutionary Metabolic Training System For Burning Fat, Building Muscle, and Getting Fit." HarperCollins. New York. 2012
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