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Diet Principles for Police Officers and Firefighters

Updated on March 9, 2015
Following simple healthy diet principles can help firefighters and police officers be far better prepared for the sometimes grueling physical demands of their professions.
Following simple healthy diet principles can help firefighters and police officers be far better prepared for the sometimes grueling physical demands of their professions. | Source

Police officers and firefighters should ideally be in peak physical condition to do their job well; eating an optimal diet is one primary method of ensuring this is the case. Although not all individuals who have these jobs do eat correctly, doing so can significantly improve their effectiveness, job performance and overall health. Even if you are not a public servant with a physically demanding job, following the principles of a nutritious diet that they should follow can help you live a healthier life.

A healthy diet should be paired with regular physical exercise for optimal health. Many firefighters and police officers choose to exercise during their off duty hours, in addition to their training while on the job.
A healthy diet should be paired with regular physical exercise for optimal health. Many firefighters and police officers choose to exercise during their off duty hours, in addition to their training while on the job. | Source

Protein Requirements

The first nutritional consideration for a police officer or firefighter, or for anyone who is interested in building or maintaining strength and muscle, is to ensure that the diet includes sufficient protein sources, such as lean meats, fish, nuts and soy products. Specific protein intake requirements can vary widely from person to person. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that most men consume about 56 grams of protein per day, and that most women consume about 46 grams of protein per day.

Grilled chicken breast is a delicious, inexpensive source of lean protein.
Grilled chicken breast is a delicious, inexpensive source of lean protein. | Source

Carbohydrate Requirements

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, especially for active adults like firefighters or police officers. Complex carbs, such as brown rice, oatmeal and whole grain breads, are much more nutritionally diverse, and therefore much more beneficial to your health, than simple carbs like highly processed breads or pastas. Most adults should consume between 45 and 65 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. That comes about 225 to 325 grams of carbs for a typical 2,000 calorie diet.

Oatmeal can be a filling breakfast, as well as a nutritious source of carbohydrates.
Oatmeal can be a filling breakfast, as well as a nutritious source of carbohydrates. | Source

Fat Requirements

Many people often assume that all dietary fat is unhealthy. However, everyone needs some fats in their diet -- especially people who have very physically demanding jobs, such as law enforcement or firefighting officials. Fats, like carbohydrates, can serve as an energy source, and certain fats can help prevent heart disease and similar conditions. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating between 20 and 35 percent of your daily calories from fats, and that most of this be unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats can be found in olive oil, many nuts and seeds, certain types of fish and similar foods.

Many types of fish can provide a nutritious source of fat, as long as they are prepared healthily.
Many types of fish can provide a nutritious source of fat, as long as they are prepared healthily. | Source

Micronutrient Requirements

In addition to the macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fat, the human body needs many different vitamins and minerals, or micronutrients, to be healthy. Eating as many different fruits and vegetables as possible can help ensure that the diet includes sufficient levels of these micronutrients. This is particularly true if these fruits and vegetables vary widely in color. Although vitamins and minerals are not always as carefully considered as more well-known nutrients when designing a diet, they are still critical to overall health and performance, and therefore should not be overlooked.

A varied selection of fruits and vegetables will provide the majority of the vitamins and minerals the human body needs to be healthy.
A varied selection of fruits and vegetables will provide the majority of the vitamins and minerals the human body needs to be healthy. | Source

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