Updated: Sep 26, 2019
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates or carbs as they are affectionately called, are one of the Macro nutrients. Carbs are used by the body as energy. Molecularly they are rearranged into glucose for direct energy use and glycogen for storage with-in cells.
They are divided into classifications based on their chemical structure and how quickly they are digested and absorbed. Generally speaking there are Simple carbs and Complex carbs.
Simple carbs are digested and absorbed quickly. Some contain just one sugar group (monosaccharides) like fructose (in fruit) and galactose (in milk). Others contain two sugar groups (disaccharides) like sucrose (table sugar) and maltose (in beer and some vegetables). There are also simple sugars found in candy and soft drinks, these "junk food" options do not come with the vitamins and minerals that come with the intake of the other non-junk food simple carbs come with. Post workout, simple carbs are excellent for replenishing glycogen stores that have just been depleted. Fruit juice, pure glucose powder, Gatorade and the like are all excellent options post workout. They are rapidly digested and cause a large spike in insulin which
also transports amino acids into the muscle cells.
At all other times, ingesting complex carbohydrates maintains more stable blood sugar levels which helps stabilise moods, cravings and energy levels. Complex carbs contain more that 3 sugar groups (polysaccharides). These take longer to digest/absorb than the simple carbs. Complex carbs are found in foods that are often deemed starchy foods. Things like beans, corn, carrots, parsnips, whole gr