Describe the components of a balanced diet.

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P6 - Describe the components of a balanced diet. Carbohydrates Carbohydrates are a main source of energy; they are the body's fuel. Most of a balanced diet should be made from carbohydrates. If eaten in an excess of the dietary requirements carbohydrates are easily stored as fats in the cells. Sources of carbohydrates such as starch are rice, potatoes, wheat and other cereals. Sugars are also carbohydrates, sources of sugars are refined sugar - sucrose, which is a food sweetener and preservative and fruit sugars - fructose. If the diet lacks carbohydrate stores of fat are mobilised and used as an energy source. Proteins Protein is not a direct source of energy in the body, it is used primarily for growth and repair of body tissues although can be used as an energy source as a last resort. Proteins fulfil a wide variety of roles in the body they are broken down in the stomach and intestines to amino acids which are then absorbed. The body can only form 8 amino acids to build proteins from the diet must provide Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) which are synthesised into proteins which can be structural. Sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs and pulses. The diet needs to provide 8 EAA's as the body is unable to synthesis proteins without these molecules.


Without vitamin K cuts can fail to heal and internal bleeding can occur. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. It is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons and also in potatoes and tomatoes. The main function of vitamin C is the formation of connective tissues such as collagen. B group vitamins have a wide range of roles acting as co-enzymes in metabolic pathways. They are found in most plant and animal tissues involved in metabolism therefore foods such as liver and dairy products are all rich in B group vitamins. Minerals Some minerals are considered to be macronutrients as they are required in fairly large amounts in the diet to maintain a healthy body. Minerals are required in their ionic state in the diet. Calcium is a major component of bones and teeth and is required to keep bones strong. It is required in blood clotting as an activator of various plasma proteins and is also involved in muscle contraction. A good source of calcium is in dairy products, eggs and green vegetables. Chlorine is required to maintain the osmotic anion / cation balance of the body and the formation of HCl in the stomach. It is found in table salt and is rarely deficient in the diet as it is used as a preservative to many foods.


Without water or food the longest anyone has ever survived is 17 days, however, with water the longest anyone has survived is 70 days, this illustrates the importance of water in the diet. As you can see a balanced diet is very important to maintaining a healthy body. People who choose to be vegetarians and vegans therefore must make sure that their diet contains all the correct nutrients to avoid any deficiencies that may occur as well as people living in countries where their diet lacks certain important food groups. A diet can easily be adequate without being a properly balanced diet and since everyone has different metabolic rates everyone's ideal diet is unique therefore generalised guidelines have been established to aid people in obtaining a good diet. Vitamins and minerals are required in small amounts to carry out a variety of essential specific functions fat and carbohydrates are the main fuel that the body runs on, whilst protein is needed in large amounts for growth and repair. The diet must also provide adequate quantities of essential fatty acids and amino acids which are required for the body to metabolise into proteins and are fundamental for health. Over eating of one food group is considered to be a form of malnutrition because the diet is not balanced. P6 - Sports Nutrition Ladien Cunningham

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