Food provides energy for physical activity. As you get more
active and more fit, and/or as you lose weight, your energy needs (how many
calories you need) may change. To get the energy you require, you need to get
the proper amount of:
Protein, which is needed to maintain and rebuild
tissues such as muscles.
Carbohydrate, which is the body's
preferred source of energy.
Fat, which also provides
Water, to replace water lost through activity.
Eating a diet that is varied, balanced, and
moderate can provide you with all the nutrients the body needs without getting
too much or too little of any one nutrient.
Balance means eating the
recommended number of servings from each food group most
Variety within each food group (for
example, eating different fruits from the fruit group instead of eating only
apples) ensures that you will get all the nutrients you need, since no one food
provides every nutrient. Eating a wide variety of foods will also help you
avoid eating too much of any substance that may be harmful.
Moderation means eating a little of everything but nothing in
excess. All foods can fit into a healthy diet if you eat everything in
Those who are very active or who are athletes may have
special nutritional needs. They usually don't need more protein than other
people, but they do need more carbohydrate (grains, vegetables, fruits) than
the amount recommended for the average person. Carbohydrate is stored as ready
energy in the liver and muscles, and this supply is used up very quickly during
exercise. Endurance athletes (such as runners and cyclists) need a particularly
large amount of carbohydrate. The carbohydrate needs to be eaten right before
and during exercise, because the body cannot store a lot of carbohydrate.