Madrid, Spain—Elite Spanish troops are being put on a diet.

Soldiers serving with the Spanish Legion, an elite outfit and the Spanish equivalent to the French Foreign Legion, were found to be overweight and undeployable.

In a recent medical and fitness evaluation, the Spanish Army found 180 legionnaires with a Body Mass Index (BMI) score of over 30. Under the BMI’s rationale, the legionnaires are considered obese. More than 3,000 troopers underwent the assessment.

With 8,000 troops, La Legion is famous for its toughness, discipline, and regimental traditions. The unit is divided into four Tercios. (Tercio is a Spanish infantry organisation that traces its roots to 16th century Habsburg Spain). La Tercio de Extranjeros (Tercio of foreigners), specialises in shock tactics. It has been deployed to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. During the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, La Legion was closely associated with the Spanish dictatorship. Franco himself commanded the unit in the 1920s.

Today the unit accepts male and female Spanish citizens (foreigners who wish to join must first become Spanish residents—the French Foreign Legion accepts foreigners without any residential preconditions).

An internal memo blamed the unappealing fitness results on the legionnaires’ older age and a lack of fitness facilities.

But “cultural, pathological or even psychological factors” could also be a reason.

The soldiers in question have been placed on a strict diet regime. The intent is to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week. For breakfast, soldiers will get yogurt with fruits and tostada, a local dish made with bread and tomatoes. Salad and more yoghurt with fruits will be their lunch. As for dinner, the menu includes lean meats, boiled veggies, and more salads. Snacks are limited to cereal bars and fruits, and just tea, coffee, and water are allowed.