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What are carbohydrates?

What are carbohydrates?

The carbohydrates (or sugars or carbohydrates or sugars) are the energetic nutrients in our diet. One gram of carbohydrate provides 4 kcal. This is the main fuel of the cells and can be found in various foods such as honey, biscuits, bread, rice, potatoes, fruit, cakes and vegetables.

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex, let’s see which are the differences between them:

  • Simple carbohydrates are formed by chains of small sugars, and are therefore absorbed more rapidly. The glucose (or dextrose) and fructose are the simplest elements of this class. The sucrose (common sugar from sugarcane) consists of one glucose and one fructose. The great advantage of fructose compared to sucrose is the fact that its absorption is about 40% slower than the sucrose, is therefore used in food for diabetics and for weight loss diets. Examples of foods high in simple carbohydrates are: sugar, fruit, biscuits, cakes.
  • Complex carbohydrates are composed of several longer sugar chains, and may be formed by one or more simple sugars. This is the case with the lactose which is formed by one molecule of glucose and one galactose. Thus it takes longer to be absorbed, providing a longer lasting energy source. Examples of foods rich in those carbohydrates are: bread, rice, pasta, potato and legumes.

Excessive consumption of sugar has been a major factor for the increase in the global number of obese and diabetic.

Imagine the following example: each packet of sugar weighs about 7g; if you consume two coffees a day, each with a packet of sugar, you are ingesting 14g; which corresponds to 56Kcal only in coffee; after a week you consume 392Kcal only sugar from the coffee.

The role of carbohydrates in our diet has been much discussed; it was abolished in most weight loss diets[1]. This is due to the fact that the carbohydrates when consumed in excess are transformed into fat and are stored at the adiposities (fat storage cells).

The secret is in knowing how to dose and ingest carbohydrates in moderation, as they are about 50-60% of the food we consumed daily. If you are interested in trying a diet low in carbohydrates, try to include some fruits, vegetables and whole grains in order to obtain the essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients or check some of our supplements in zumbu.com.



[1] http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/low-carbohydrate-diets/


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

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