Week 09 – Types of Calories – Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the most important source of calories. Carbohydrates get their name because they are carbon atoms(carbo) attached to water molecules(hydrates). Carbohydrates, are the number one source of energy for the body and are absolutely pivotal for the body to function. Carbohydrates are separated into two groups, simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrate molecules are made up of many simple carbohydrate molecules fused together in a long chain. You must understand the difference between the two types of carbohydrates to understand how your body weight is impacted by the foods you eat.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are often referred to as sugars or saccharides. They are the most basic chemicals your body uses for energy. Your body has to break down most foods in order to use them for energy but simple carbohydrates already have the correct chemical structure for your body to use right away. Simple carbohydrates are made up of two different types of chemicals; monosaccharides and disaccharides.

Monosaccharides

Here are two important monosaccharides:

Glucose: C6H12O6

Glucose
Fructose: C6H12O6

Fructose

Notice they have the same chemical formula, 6 carbon atoms attached to 6 water molecules, but they have different chemical structures. The differing chemical structure is important because the body processes each a little differently. Two chemicals with identical chemical formulas but differing molecular structures are called Isomers.

Disaccharides

As you may have guessed, disaccharides are made by combining two saccharides together. A common example of a disaccharide is made by combining a glucose molecule with a fructose molecule. This new molecule is called sucrose. Sucrose is common table sugar.



Sucrose: C12H24O12


Sucrose

Your body derives energy from these chemicals by breathing in oxygen, oxidizing the C6H12O6 chemical, breaking off the water molecules, and adding Oxygen atoms to the carbon atoms to form carbon dioxide, CO2, which is then exhaled as you breathe. Oxidizing the C6H12O6 gives off energy much like oxidizing, or burning, firewood gives off heat. So really your body is just like a furnace. It literally burns food to produce energy. This is where the phrase “burning calories” during a workout comes from.

The chemical reaction described above is written as follows:
C6H12O6 + 6O2 = 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy

1 glucose molecule plus 6 Oxygen molecules is converted to 6 carbon dioxide molecules and 6 water molecules while giving off energy.


Common foods with high amounts of simple carbohydrates include:

Soda
Sports Drinks
Table Sugar
Honey
Candy
Milk
Fruit
Vegetables

Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are known as polysaccharides and are typically made by combining hundreds of simple carbohydrates into long chains called polymers. Your body has to break apart the chains to free up the monosaccharide molecule before it can use the energy. This process takes a while, so unlike simple carbohydrates, the energy is not immediately available to your body. Complex carbohydrates get a bad rap in the nutrition community but they are an absolutely essential part of your diet if you wish to have the highest resting metabolism possible. We will get there but for know you just need to understand what a complex carbohydrate is.

This is an example of the most important complex carbohydrate, Glycogen. Glycogen will be discussed in more detail in Week 20 – Glycogen and Your Muscles. As you can see below Glycogen consist of many C6H10O5 molecules attached in long chains.


glycogen

Common foods with high amounts of complex carbohydrates include:

Cereals
Oatmeal
Potatoes
Bread
Pasta
Rice

The most important thing to know about carbohydrates when applying The Weight Equation is:

1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories

References:

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm
https://www.rpi.edu/dept/bcbp/molbiochem/MBWeb/mb1/part2/sugar.htm



Please enjoy the powerful information I am sharing in this blog but remember that I am NOT a nutritionist or a professional. I am simply passionate about the subject. Please consult with your doctor and nutritionist before implementing any diet.

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