Press "Enter" to skip to content

Defense Department to ban beer and pizza? Mandatory keto diet may enhance military performance

The controversial ketogenic or “keto” diet may be the future of the military, some defense officials say.

Service members, and Navy SEALS especially, may have to forgo beer and burritos for skinny cocktails and avocado salad (forget the tortilla chips) if a proposal from Special Operations Command gains momentum.

While a nutritionally enhanced future could eventually be put into effect for all branches, the SEALS and other underwater dive-mission specialists might be the first groups targeted for the change in nutritional guidelines.

Lisa Sanders, the director of science and technology at U.S. Special Operations Command, presented an Ohio State University study that recommends the nutritional change based on the keto diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. The diet works to deprive the body of glucose needed for energy and forces it to burn stored fats instead. The study was conducted on the university’s Army ROTC cadet population.

“One of the effects of truly being in ketosis is that it changes the way your body handles oxygen deprivation, so you can actually stay underwater at depths for longer periods of time and not go into oxygen seizures,” Sanders said at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in May.

Discussion of new dietary guidelines for service members comes at a time of growing concern about obesity in the military and its potential threat to readiness.