I am in naval aviation and am currently training in jets. I was at one of your NROTC UC berkeley lectures a few years ago and I was wondering how your advice would apply to my line of work. Considering I can't eat or drink in the cockpit, how can I prepare for my 2 hour flight best? Right now I stick with an apple and a cup of coffee. For my flights I want to be as mentally alert as possible, and not get too dehydrated considering how much I sweat in the gear we have to wear.
ANSWER: Dave, You want the slowest digesting starch available, which is either legumes or yam. This has a very real impact on sustained mental and physical focus. In my hardest training sessions, when I eat a small portion of lentils or, to a lesser extent, when I have a microwaved yam (it eats just like an energy bar), my energy is sustained for hard training into a second hour. It is shocking what a difference it makes compared to oatmeal or an apple. What you are currrently doing is fine (the coffee and an apple), but if you ever have a training session that is particularly long and/or important to you, try the slow digesting starch approach I recommend here. Adding an apple as a side snack to the lentils is also a good idea because the apple provides some fructose for liver fueling (the liver stores that fuel and provides it to you as blood sugar starts to fall in the second hour of training or flying). Note that if you use lentil soup intead of plain cooked lentils you will be effectively dehydrating yourself because of the high salt levels in soup.