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Carb Week: What Exactly Are Carbohydrates

Posted Jan 22 2009 4:42pm


Knowing what carbohydrates are and what their function in the human body is the first step to understanding the basics of carbohydrates. Today I am going to explain the basics of carbohydrates. With this simple knowledge, the rest will make more sense as we work through the week. Let’s get started.

What are carbohydrates?

In the most simplistic explanation, carbohydrates are energy. Carbohydrates are broken down from sugars and starches and provide the body with a source of energy. A carbohydrate molecule contains glucose. When a cell burns a food source for energy, this carbohydrate molecule and an oxygen molecule are changed in to Carbon Dioxide and water (hence, Carbo-hydrate), releasing the energy (glucose) trapped inside the molecule. The energy (glucose) is used to power the living cell.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are basically carbs that come from a natural food sources such as fruits, nuts and grains. complex carbohydrates are sometimes called “slow digesting carbs”. We’ll cover slow digesting carbohydrates on Tuesday.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are derived from man made food sources such as flour based foods, soft drinks and processed sugar foods. Simple carbohydrates are sometimes called “Fast digesting carbs”. We will cover this subject on Wednesday.

Dietary Needs of Carbohydrates

While carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient or dietary requirement, they are a great source of energy for the human body and a means of preventing the body from breaking down muscle proteins for energy. Choosing the right carbohydrate source is the key to a healthy diet and potential weight control.

Next Up: Complex (Fast Digesting) Carbohydrates.

Resources: The New Complete Medical And Health Encyclopedia. J.G. Ferguson Publishing Co.

Image © Health And Men 2009

Tags: Carbohydrates

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