A. Marks1, J. Sol2, J. Domitrovich2, M. West3, B.C. Ruby, FACSM1

1University of Montana, Missoula, MT; 2United States Forest Service, Missoula, MT; 3University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Wildland firefighters (WLFF) are required to work long hours in extreme environments resulting in high daily rates of total energy expenditure (TEE) (Ruby, 2002; Cuddy, 2015). Increasing the number of eating episodes throughout the workshift and/or providing rations that better promote convenient nutrient delivery (Cuddy, 2007; Montain, 2008) has been shown to augment self-selected work output on the fireline. Regular consumption of supplemental carbohydrate (CHO) has also demonstrated enhanced work output, particularly during the shifts’ latter hours (Cuddy, 2007). However, it remains unclear how current feeding strategies of WLFF compare to more frequent nutrient delivery.PURPOSE: The aim of the current study was to determine the self-selected field total energy intake (TEI), composition and patterns of WLFF feeding during wildland fire suppression shifts. METHODS: 86 WLFF (16 female, 70 male; 27.5±6.4 yrs) were deployed to 12 different wildland fire assignments across six regions of the US during the 2018 fire season. Pre- and post-shift food inventories were collected at WLFF basecamp and provided item-specific nutrient content (calories [kcal], CHO, fat, protein). Workshift nutrient consumption (TEI, feeding frequency [total number of and interval between feeding episodes], feeding episodic composition) was monitored in real-time by field researchers on the fireline via observational data capture in mobile tablets. RESULTS: Workshift length averaged 14.0±1.2 hr, with a TEI of 1523±639 kcal (51±10, 37±9, 14±5 % for CHO, fat, and protein, respectively). The total number of eating episodes was 4.3±1.7 with an average interval of 117±76 min. Eating episodes averaged 346±311 kcal and included 44±38 g CHO. Using similar intake metrics, TEI was 893±353and 1356±560 kcal for breakfast and dinner, respectively. CONCLUSION: The present workshift TEI approximates 34% of the TEE compared to our prior doubly labeled water studies (Ruby, 2002; Cuddy 2015). These data also demonstrate that WLFF consumption patterns using current rations may not deliver adequate nutrients for the occupational demands of WLFF. Future work should elucidate the impact of workshift provisions on overall patterns of self-selected work output.

Supported by National Technology & Development Program, USDA Forest Service.

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