Food Pyramid for Active People
The Food Standards Agency was set up by Parliament in 2000 – its job is to protect the public's health and promote consumer interests. It has recently undertaken a research programme to establish the kind of healthy balanced diet that gives very active people the nutrients they need to take part in sports or activities.
The first guideline they’ve suggested is that a healthy diet for highly active people requires eating a wide range of foods. However for athletes and very active people, there are specific needs. The first of which is to eat enough carbohydrate.
Carbohydrates For Active HealthTaking part in a sport regularly, going to the gym, or leading a lifestyle where your job involves you in regular and strenuous activity means that you have an increased requirement for complex carbohydrates that allow you ‘keep going’ during exercise by providing the energy to fuel muscle contractions. This happens because carbohydrates break down into less complex sugars: glucose, fructose and galactose which the body absorbs and turns into energy.
Good carbohydrate intake is also important because it stops protein being used as energy which is what happens when a body doesn’t have enough carbohydrate. It’s better if this doesn’t happen because the key role of protein is to build muscles and bones, so using your protein intake to provide energy can actually limit your body’s chance to build and maintain a strong body. If you get tired during your activities it could be because the glycogens stored in the liver and muscles, are not adequate and you need to be eating more carbs.
Carbohydrate is found in wholegrain breads and cereals, wholegrain rice and pastas, especially wholegrain and spelt ones. Carbs are also found in potatoes, fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses. It is no accident that the wholegrains section of the food pyramid is the largest, when you consider all the work that carbohydrates do to keep us healthy.