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What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get the nutrition you need, most of your daily calories should come from:

  • fresh fruit
  • fresh vegetables
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • lean proteins
About calories

The number of calories in a food refers to the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses calories from food for walking, thinking, breathing, and other important functions. The average person needs about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight, but the amount will depend on their age, sex, and physical activity level.

Males tend to need more calories than females, and people who exercise need more calories than people who don’t.

Person Calorie requirements
Sedentary children: 2–8 years 1,000–1,400
Active children: 2–8 years 1,000–2,000
Females: 9–13 years 1,400–2,200
Males: 9–13 years 1,600–2,600
Active females: 14–30 years 2,400
Sedentary females: 14–30 years 1,800–2,000
Active males: 14–30 years 2,800–3,200
Sedentary males: 14–30 years 2,000–2,600
Active people: 30 years and over 2,000–3,000
Sedentary people: 30 years and over 1,600–2,400
Examples of foods that provide empty calories include:
  • cakes, cookies, and donuts
  • processed meats
  • energy drinks and sodas
  • fruit drinks with added sugar
  • ice cream
  • chips and fries
  • pizza
  • sodas

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