Monday, October 31, 2016

Carbohydrates: Unlocking the Secrets to Nutrition

Carbohydrates are extremely important because they are the body’s main source of energy. On average, females consume 177 grams of carbohydrates and males consume 287 grams of carbohydrates per day in the United States.1 It is recommended that an individual’s diet should consist of over 55% of carbohydrates, however, most individuals do not consume this amount. Unfortunately, most individuals consume far too many simple carbohydrates, as opposed to complex carbohydrates. I will explain what these are later on in this blog. Carbs are categorized into three different categories. These are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides.2
Monosaccharides and disaccharides are also known as simple carbohydrates and are commonly called sugars. Monosaccharides consist of one sugar. Some common monosaccharides that are frequently seen are glucose and fructose. Glucose is found in honey, fruits, sweet corn, and more. It used to be a very common dietary sugar. Fructose is also in fruits and honey.1 It is becoming a more common dietary sugar now-a-days because it does not cause a spike in blood sugar, whereas glucose does cause a spike. This is due to the slow rate at which fructose enters the bloodstream. Disaccharides consist of two sugar molecules. Sucrose, maltose, and lactose are all common disaccharides.

Polysaccharides consist of three or more sugar molecules and are also known as complex carbohydrates. Starch and glycogen are the two most important polysaccharides. This is because of their energy contribution.  Starch can be found in pasta, breads, roots legumes, grains, and more. It is a very common and major source of energy for individuals.1 One very common polysaccharide that does not provide energy to the body is fiber. Though fiber does not provide energy to the body, it does help promote effective intestinal function. Fiber is often found in whole grain breads, fruits, stalks, vegetables and leaves, as well as in the outer covering of seeds, grains, and nuts. It helps the body to feel satisfied and full.
It is extremely important for individuals to consume the right amount and type of carbohydrates to ensure they have energy to properly fuel their body throughout the day. People need to start consuming less simple carbohydrates and more complex carbohydrates.

1Gastelu, D. (2000). Types of carbohydrates. Sports Nutrition.
2Szalay, J. (2015). What are carbohydrates? Live Science.

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