WHAT IS A CARBOHYDRATE?
There are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates have a basic chemical structure, two molecules of sugar linked together, are called sugars. Complex carbohydrate contains starches and fibre, which is not digested by the human body. These carbohydrates break down into glucose in the body but the simple carbs break down easily because they are shorter leading to a rapid release of glucose in the body.
FUEL FOR BODY
Carbohydrates are essential to metabolize fats to meet the increased caloric demands of athletes, it is the only macronutrient that provides energy for anaerobic exercise; it also spares muscle tissue and it acts as the primary energy source for the nervous system. Without an adequate level of carbohydrates, the nerve cells get damaged which in turn; can have a negative effect on our body.
Our body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrates, just about 400 -600g so we need to replenish its source because less amount of carbohydrate would mean low energy levels and decreased motivation. The glucose released from carbohydrates is converted into the energy your muscles and brain need in order to function. There are other energy sources such as fat and protein which are essential, but these are long-term sources while carbohydrates fulfil the body’s immediate energy requirements.
While complex carbohydrates break down slowly, but eating a fibre-rich diet helps cut down the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. There is no standard measurement of how many carbohydrates you should take because it all depends on your age, sex, your individual dietary requirements as well as your lifestyle. Ideally, 45 to 65 per cent of your dietary requirements should come from carbohydrates. The richest source of carbohydrates is fruits, grains and vegetables.