What is Carbohydrate? - An energy store and an energy source.
Structure of Carbohydrate
Carbohydrate can be split into 2 groups, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars and complex are starch.
The difference between these 2 groups is their chemical composition.
Simple carbohydrates are made up of 1 or 2 units of sugar (monosaccharides and disaccharides) whereas complex carbohydrates are made up of more than 2 sugar units, these are called Polysaccharrides) Bit over simplistic but will do for our purposes.
To get into out bloodstream these sugars must be broken down. A single block of sugar can pass through the gut wall into the blood stream; this is called glucose, very simple sugar. Very easily absorbed - that why we get the instant sugar hit after having a mars bar for instance. Other sugars need more help. The disaccharide and polysaccharides have more links, which need to be broken down in order to be absorbed. This is done mechanically by chewing but this process also requires water for the chemical reactions. Another good reason to drink lots of water!
The GI Index measures how quickly your blood sugar level increases after having a certain food. We'll discuss this in a later class in more depth, but if you require a slow release of energy good to have foods with a low GI Index, i.e., complex carbohydrates - brown bread, brown rice nuts.
Aim of the game:
To break down the carbohydrates into simple sugars that can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
How much Carbohydrate should we eat?
About 50% your daily energy supply should come form carbohydrates, and this should be split between: (60%) Complex carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, bread and the rest from sugars i.e., fruit and milk. Remember to watch out for the carbohydrates that are loaded with extra fat.