What are carbohydrates anyway? Should they be part of our diet or something to be avoided? During the next weeks we will bring you up to speed on carbs in a series of articles.
In order to get energy our body uses so-called macronutrients which, among others, are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Because carbs usually constitute about 50 to 55 per cent of our daily energy intake (as recommended by the German Nutrition Society) it is important to know which food contains relevant amounts of carboyhdrates and which of these can be classified „good“ or „bad“ – especially from a runner’s point of view.
There are four different chemical groupings of carbohydrates: monosaccharides (glucose, fructose), disaccharides (double sugar like lactose and maltose), oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (with the largest molecular structure). The important thing is to know that all types of carbohydrates are broken down into simple monosaccharides when we eat them. The reason for this is that our body’s main source of energy comes from glucose (i.e. monosaccharides) disolved in our bloodstream. So before we can „burn“, for example, oligosaccharides from a dish of whole grain pasta they must be broken into simple sugars. Digestive enzymes help in this process and it can take a while depending on the length of the molecular chain that has to be tackled.
The gist of it is: the longer this process takes the longer you stay supplied with energy and don’t feel the need to eat.
Zeichung von Katrin Stücher