A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet consists of the following quantities per day:

  • 50-60 percent of kcals from carbohydrates
  • 10-20 percent of kcals from proteins
  • 30 percent of fats
  • A plentiful supply of vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables
  • 2 litres of water


Carbohydrates should provide between 50 and 60 percent of your total calorie intake and its main role is to supply energy to allow the body to function. The energy content of carbohydrate is 1g provides 4 kcals. There are many sources of carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, sweets and biscuits. They all differ in form slightly but are all broken down into glucose because that is the only way the body can use carbohydrate. The functions of carbohydrates are to provide energy for:

  • The Brain to function
  • The Liver to perform its functions
  • Muscular contractions at moderate to high intensities

When carbohydrate foods are digested they are all broken down into glucose which is then absorbed in the small intestine and enters the bloodstream. From the bloodstream it can be used immediately as energy or stored in the liver and in the muscles.

A minimum recommended daily intake of at least 50 percent of the total kilocalories consumed should come from complex carbohydrate sources. The British Nutrition Foundation found that in Britain the average intake of carbohydrate is 272g for men and 193g for women, which provides just over 43 percent of their diet. As with most nutrients, eating excess amounts can lead to problems. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to tooth decay and is linked to a number of major diseases e.g. diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease. Excess carbohydrate in the body will be converted and stored as fat. Therefore it is possible to gain body fat even on a low fat diet.  

The amount of carbohydrate recommended is based on the activity level of the individual.

(Adapted from Franklin, 2000)

An endurance athlete would need 10g a day, mainly from complex carbohydrates e.g. pasta or rice.


Proteins are the prime importance because they are the building blocks which make up the structures of the body. Muscle, skin, bones, internal organs, cartilage and ligament all have a protein component. We gain our protein by eating protein rich foods as red meat, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products. The diet should consist of between 10 and 20 percent protein depending upon the specific needs of the individual. Protein also provides a source of energy, 1g of protein provides 4 kcals.

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The smallest unit of a protein is an amino acid. Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids which are formed into structures. Amino acids are the smallest unit of a protein and there are 20 amino acids in total. Amino acids can be seen like the English Language, we have 26 letters in the alphabet that can make up millions of words. The 20 amino acids can make up to approximately 50,000 different proteins in the body.

When we eat protein it is digested in the digestive system and then delivered to the liver as ...

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