USARIEM Nutrition Physiologist Awarded 2022 GSSI Young Investigator in Sports Nutrition Award
For Emily Howard, a Nutrition Physiologist for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command's U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, receiving the Gatorade Sports Science Institute's Young Investigator in Sports Nutrition Award is something she'll never forget.
This award is presented annually to three early-career professionals at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting to recognize innovative, high-impact research in sports nutrition. Howard received the award in the wake of her work assessing the effect of ketone ester plus carbohydrate supplementation on physical performance and carbohydrate use during aerobic exercise.
"Consuming carbohydrates during prolonged exercise is a common nutrition recommendation for enhancing physical performance," said Howard regarding her work, which focuses specifically on ketone ester supplements. "However, there has been recent interest in using ketone supplements as an alternative fuel source. We conducted this study to provide clear recommendations to Soldiers as to whether exogenous ketones or carbohydrates are the superior fuel choice for optimizing performance."
Howard started as a Nutrition Physiologist at USARIEM after refining her research interests in muscle physiology as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Postdoctoral Research Fellow for two years and working on prominent projects for the command.
"The work I've done at USARIEM has included studying the effects of protein intake, energy deficit, testosterone supplementation and macronutrient metabolism on muscle and physical performance outcomes in Warfighters," said Howard.
Howard's research on Warfighter performance recently included leading a field study with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, during which researchers gave Soldiers different supplemental nutrition bars to study how their impact on health and performance during cold-weather training.
"The best part of conducting a field study was seeing first-hand how our research translates to Soldiers going through strenuous training," Howard said.
Nutrition research during cold weather is a part of the Army's Arctic strategy to train and equip Soldiers to operate in extreme cold, high altitude and latitude, and mountainous and variable weather conditions with partnered allies in the region.
Howard states she has specific interests in using nutrition interventions to accelerate and optimize recovery from musculoskeletal injuries.
"For example, after a severe knee injury or surgery, you may be in a cast or brace, on crutches for some time, or just not using your muscle the same way you would normally," said Howard. "This disuse of muscle leads to a loss of muscle mass and function in the injured limb. I am interested in how we can use dietary interventions to attenuate loss of muscle and accelerate gains in muscle mass post-injury to optimize recovery and accelerate return-to-duty."
As she moves forward with her career, Howard plans to continue these research efforts at USAREIM. Howard will officially present her work on ketone ester supplements alongside two other GSSI awardees at the 69th Annual ACSM Meeting in San Diego, California, in May.