Healthy eating and physical fitness

How does healthy eating affect physical fitness? How many calories does your body need? What is the difference between “good-fats” and “bad-fats”? What benefits do the different food groups have on your body? There are many studies and research done that has proven that eating healthy does have a positive affect on performance during any type of physical fitness.

This is only some of the questions that will be answered in my research. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, people who eat whole grains as a part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic deceases[1]. The food pyramid teaches us that the amount of grains we need to eat depends on our age, gender, and the level of physical activity we have[2]. Whole grains give you carbohydrates which help boost your bodies energy and are also a source of phytonutrients that are missing in many of today's foods. Phytonutrients are non-nutritive plant chemicals that contain protective and disease-preventing compounds[3].

Carbohydrates are an accentual part of our daily intake. On average 60 to 70 percent of our daily intake should consist of carbohydrates[4]. They could become unhealthy if they start to overpower all the other food groups. Our bodies require at least a small amount for us to have energy and a certain amount of vitamins' and minerals. Eating carbohydrates enables you to have the energy to do physical activities. How do carbohydrates give you energy? Your body breaks the carbohydrates down into simple sugars which is a major source of energy for your body[5].

Vegetables are one of the most important food groups, they provide our bodies with vital nutrients[6]. Nutrients provide your body with a lot of protein. Vegetables are divided into five different sub-groups based on their nutrient content. Dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables[7].

Eating a diet that contains a good amount of fruits may reduce your risk for a stroke or other cardiovascular diseases. It also may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart diseases. Fruits are full of many nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin C[8]. The right amount of fruit for each person depends on your gender. The recommended daily amount for woman is 1½ to 2 cups. For men the recommended amount is 2 cups, for children 2 to 8 years old it is 1 to 1 ½ cups and girls and boys from the age of 9 to 18 is 1½ to 2 cups[9]. These recommendations are for your daily intake of fruit for a healthy diet that will benefit your physical activity.

In the Milk and Dairy category there can be a great amount of Vitamins and benefits to your performance. Vitamin D is an example of one of the vitamins in milk, this will help to get the right amount calcium to build your bones stronger. Diets rich in milk and milk products help build and maintain bone mass throughout our lives. Milk products are filled with potassium. Potassium is great for maintaining healthy blood pressure[10].

Meats and Beans are great for filling your body with Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Iron, Zinc, and Magnesium. All these are great sources to release your body's energy and play a big role in the functioning of the nervous system[11].

What is the difference between “good-fats and bad-fats”? Well, good-fats are known as unsaturated fats. Contain a great amount of nutrients. Our bodies do not make its own unsaturated fats, we need to consume them from eating foods rich in it. The nutrients that are in good-fats such as Omega 3 is found in fish, fish oils, green vegetables, nuts and more. On the other hand, bad-fats known as saturated fats are unhealthy. They are known to boost cholesterol levels and the chemical process that causes hydrogenation has been linked to heart disease and other illnesses. Most saturated fats are found in meats, dairy, and seafood[12].

The amount that your body need in calories everyday depends on your weight, height, and gender. It also depends on your daily physical activity[13]. Physical activity plays a big role in your life from keeping your body healthy and reducing your chances of having future health threats.

Many people today eat more than there body's desire or even need. We should eat when our bodies tell us we are hungry. But we should stop when our body tells us we are full. When we continue to eat after we are full would be considered to be over eating. Over eating is not good, it can increase your chances of gaining more weight and this is not healthy for you. Eating healthy is the best you can do for your body. Eating healthy means to consume the right amount of calories, proteins and fats. Cutting out all processed food, fast food, and trading it in for healthy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, lean meat and beans. Doing this can increase your physical ability and your performance during any activity. Also, eating healthier will lesson your chances of disease and infection and ultimately add years to your life.

There are so many different ways out there to get some physical activity. One way could be to take a 10 minute break every hour while you are reading, doing homework or watching TV and filling the time with some sort of activity like walking, can help a lot. Some other examples would be, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park farther in the parking lot so you can walk more. There are so many great things you can do just to get a little more physical activity in your days than you may do currently.

A great example of an athlete who eats a balanced diet and has proven to have benefited from it is Shawn Johnson. She is an amazing gymnast and is a very fit girl who spends a lot of the time doing physical activity. She says that “A normal breakfast for her is a yogurt and scrambled eggs, lunch might be a wrap or salad with some fruit and for dinner, “I eat a lot of fish and chicken with some vegetables”[14].”

On the other hand, someone like Michael Phelps has a diet that is totally different. His activity level is so intense that he needs to consume 12,000 calories a day to be able to keep up at the level that he needs to compete at. Phelps says a normal lunch for him is “1,000 calories worth of energy drinks, 1 pound of pasta with tomato sauce and two large ham and cheese sandwiches (with mayo) on white bread”. For dinner Michael's meal consists of six to eight slices of pizza, another pound of pasta with tomato sauce and another 1,000 calories in energy drinks[15]. This diet for him is not a life long way of eating. It's specifically during competition and for the purpose to add calories for energy.

So as you can see different sports and athletes may call for different diets and food limitations. But for the average person, a daily healthy intake of food using the food pyramid as a guide is a great way to get results in your performance during an activity or sport competition.

[1] (inside the pyramid) October 01, 2009. February 2, 2010. ( /pyramid/grains_why.html)

[2] (inside the pyramid) October 01, 2009. February 02, 2010. (

[3] (Phytochemicals, Phytonutrients, phytosteroles) may 2005. December 03, 2009 ( )

[4] (carbohydrates - an essential part of your diet) 02, 2010. (

[5] (learning about carbohydrates) February 02, 2010. (

[6] (inside the pyramid) October 01, 2009. December 03, 2009. (

[7] (inside the pyramid) October 01, 2009. December 03, 200. (

[8] (inside the pyramid) October 01, 2009. December 03, 2009. (

[9] (inside the pyramid) October 01, 2009. (

[10] (inside the pyramid) April 06, 2009. December 03, 2009. (

[11] (inside the pyramid) April 06, 2009. December 03, 2009. (

[12] (what are the different types of fats?) February 02, 2010. (http://www,

[13] (how many calories does a person need?) December 03, 2009. (

[14] (Shawn Johnson flips for nutrition) august 15, 2008. December 03, 2009. (

[15] (12,000 calories a day) august 14, 2008. December 03, 2010. (

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