Cognitive Function & Executive Protection: Back to Basics

WE KNOW that our greatest resource in protecting clients is our mind.

WE NEGLECT this truism in our habits. (Yeah, we're all guilty.)

The basics in this context are the biological & physiological basics of the human body.

So there you are...You’re in the operations center thinking “Why am I so tired today?” …as you inhale a burrito from Del Taco and tell yourself that you’ll go to the gym tomorrow. (Is this familiar?)

Here are the basics: eat real food, drink water, get quality sleep, get physical activity, get sun exposure, stimulate your brain, etc. All of which—SIGNIFICANTLY enhance your cognitive function!

This is one of the few instances where the Instagram-bodyguards (or "hot bodyguards" as the news media characterizes them) posting gym selfies and pictures of their clients, are in the right. They may know nothing about protecting people, but they do know that physical activity keeps them mentally sharp.

The Basics

  1. Eat: Consume lots of meat and vegetables, healthy fats, and limit grains.
  2. Sleep: Get whatever amount your body prefers (low end: 6hrs; high end: 10hrs).
  3. Move: Sprint once every 7-10 days for a total not exceeding 10 minutes; lift heavy things 1-3 times per week (includes pushups, pullups, squats, planks); move frequently at a slow pace for 5 cumulative hours per week (walk, hike, cycle, easy cardio).
  4. Sun: Get 15 minutes of sun exposure per day and if that’s difficult then take a vitamin D3 supplement. Hello graveyard shift! You may benefit from a vitamin D3 supplement!
  5. Mind: do anything cognitively stimulating—read, write, meditate, Sudoku, etc.

A Word on Supplements

  1. The most effective cognitive supplement is exercise. One professor from Harvard uses this analogy: the physiological effect of exercising is comparable to taking a small dose of Ritalin and Prozac. It enhances your focus and boosts your mood.
  2. Coffee. It’s the most widely used cognitive supplement. It works. Consumed in moderation, there’s almost no reason not to have a cup.
  3. If you don’t get enough sun, then take a vitamin D3 supplement. The majority of people in the US are vitamin D3 deficient. Is your night shift crew deficient? Probably.
  4. I like fish oil (or krill oil) for many reasons, including cognitive benefits. However, you will find research that supports and contradicts this statement (depending on many variables in each academic study).
  5. Probiotics? Yes, there's enough research out there to suggest that probiotics enhance cognitive function. Plus, there is no question that probiotics support immune function. So, if you're working long hours, possibly traveling internationally (and consuming food in developing countries), you must consider it.

Side-note: If I start my day by warming up & doing anything with a kettlebell/barbell, drinking coffee, and eating breakfast, then I'll feel as sharp mentally as I could ever be.

How it Impacts the Bottom Line & Client Safety

Ever read Just 2 Seconds?

De Becker explicitly stated that appearance matters for protectors, and looking/being fit is essential. The adversary factors the perceived appearance and ability of the protectors into his or her calculation of success in attacking Client A vs Client B.

If your executive protection team members got adequate sleep, exercise, sun exposure, and the right food to fuel them, they’d be unstoppable. And the client would be safer.

Wouldn’t the client get better service from happy EP agents?

And wouldn’t you also get more productivity out of your EP agents? Food for thought...

Honestly, no one knows what profound effects they would see if they encouraged their team members to live by a few basic fundamentals that their ancestors have practiced for about 4 million years.

Thank you for reading!

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Stay safe,

*End-note: These are just conclusions that I've reached in my own research and experimentation. Consult your doctor before you do anything outlined here. See links below for further reading.



UCLA "Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows"

NPR "If Fish is Brain Food Can Fish Oil Pills Boost Brains Too?"

Summary Info-graphic

"The Definitive Guide to Sleep" by Mark Sisson

"Let the Sun Shine In"

"Primal Blueprint Fitness Challenges"

"Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint"


About the EP Nexus Blog

The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.

Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.

The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection HacksEP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.

Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.

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