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Fuel for an Active Body


Before going out on the trails of cycling, paddling, or hiking, you should be equipped with the proper fuel.  It is important to eat well and stay hydrated before, after and during exercise.

Good news - there are no special diets needed!
Eating a variety of healthy foods allows you to get the nutrients needed to be active, build strong bones and muscles, and feel good about yourself.  Vegetables and Fruit, and Grain Products provide carbohydrates that are needed to fuel an active person.  Milk and Alternatives, and Meat and Alternatives provide protein to build and repair muscles.  By using food from the four food groups, you do not need to rely on expensive bars, drinks or supplements to be active.

Stay energized with food & hydrated with water.
The best way to fuel up before going out on the trail is to have a snack or meal two or more hours before you exercise.  Try a snack that is mostly carbohydrate (i.e. grain products or vegetables and fruit), low in fat and includes a small amount of protein (i.e. Chicken, eggs, beans, peanut butter or hummus).  This will help to boost energy levels and prevent hunger during activity.

You can stay hydrated with water, milk, soy beverages, 100% juice and some foods.  People who exercise at high intensity for more than an hour might find sport drinks helpful.  Drinking enough fluids during exercise can help replace water lost in sweat, so always bring water with you and sip it throughout your time on the trail.

Remember to keep your body fuelled-up and also protected from the sun by wearing sunscreen and a hat.  Healthy eating, regular physical activity, and enough sleep are safe ways to achieve an active and healthy lifestyle.  This information has been adapted from 'Fuelling Fitness on a Budget', by Carole Chang, a Registered Dietition and Public Health Nutritionist at the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit.

For free resources and more information on healthy eating, contact the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit Health Action Line at 1-800-660-5853 (613-345-5685) or visit  For more information about physical activity, ready the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines here.

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