The Defense Department is studying whether a boost of testosterone can keep military muscle and brains operating in top form during long periods of combat. When troops are engaged in prolonged physical activity like war and contingency operations, they are unable to consume the calories needed to sustain high physical and mental function, according to medical researchers. The calorie deficit — sometimes as much as 50 percent to 60 percent below the needed amount — can result in muscle loss, fatigue, cognitive decline and, in men, a drop in testosterone, leaving them vulnerable to injury, illness, wounds or death.
Scientists at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Facility and the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine are conducting a study to see if maintaining normal testosterone levels during periods of calorie restriction will improve performance, or at least minimize negative consequences. DoD is also researching the role the nutrient lutein may play in brain performance and whether Omega-3 fatty acids can help recruits and special operations soldiers focus.