On the surface carbohydrates seem like a simple matter. But what are they actually, what is the difference between "simple" and "complex" carbohydrates, what place do they have in your diet and why do you need both?
What Are Carbohydrates?Carbohydrates are one or more of several kinds of sugar, because sugar isn’t just sugar, there are numerous types of it: glucose, fructose, maltose and many more.Whatever kind of sugar a carbohydrate contains, your body breaks it down to glucose, also called "blood sugar." It's the most simple of all sugars and fulfills several functions in the human body. When we talk about fitness, glucose is the major fuel source for demanding activities like fast running or heavy weightlifting.
Simple And Complex?The difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is in how many sugars a carbohydrate contains.A simple carbohydrate contains one or two kinds of sugar and a complex carbohydrate contains three or more. Scientists call them mono-, di- and polysaccharides:
- Monosaccharides contain one sugar and the best example here is the above glucose, that the human body uses for fuel.
- Disaccharides contain two sugars. Table sugar, the one you use to sweeten coffee, is an example for them, as it consists of glucose and fructose.
- Polysaccharides are the most complex sugars, as they come with three or more sugars. They also are called starches and occur in plants, because of the way plants store energy. Foods that directly comes from plants, like bread, vegetables, noodles and seeds, therefore contain a lot of complex carbohydrates.