Different types of carbs - Performance Sports Nutrition
Carbohydrates are the nutrients that provide our body with energy. Energy is essential to keep our body working, we need them to stay healthy. Carbs don’t have the best connotation to them. They are often seen as the malefactor in gaining those extra kilos. A carb-free diet is often suggested to lose weight, but is that even a good idea? When our body does not get enough carbs, it will produce itself, however, that’s where it goes wrong. For our body to make carbohydrates, it uses muscle protein, which causes muscle breakdown. An excess of carbs, on the other hand, has its bad consequences too. It can cause different diseases like heart- and vascular disease and dental problems. However, we cannot see carbs as a whole, there are different types of carbohydrates that have another kind of influence on our bodies. These are singular, dual and multiple carbohydrates. Only singular carbs can be digested by our body, therefore all other types of carbs get ‘cut’ into singular carbs by our body. Finally, all carbs get digested except from fiber.
An overview of the different types of carbs:
Glucose is found in grapes and honey. This is the only carb that gets absorbed in our body from our nutrition, other carbs first need to be broken down to glucose. This sugar brings our blood sugar level up fast when feeling dizzy or unwell.
Fructose comes from fruit and honey. It is twice as sweet as ‘normal’ sugar and is often used for sweetening lemonades and candy in factories.
Galactose is a building stone of lactose and does not occur in nature separately.
These sugars get absorbed into the body fast. They provide the body with a fast power supply and are therefore good to take in before practicing sports. It enhances your performance for a short time, therefore it is great for sprints, short distances and for energy refueling during a longer effort to keep your performance up for an extended period.
Dual carbs are simply two singular carbs attached to each other. Just like singular carbs, they are easily soluble in water. Saccharose exists from glucose and fructose. It is often used in the household, think of ‘normal’ white sugar. Lactose is built from galactose and glucose. One liter of milk contains more or less 46 grams of lactose or milk sugar. Maltose only exists in beer and exists of 2 parts glucose resulting from the malting process
Starch: built from several pieces of glucose and can be stocked in your body easily. Examples are potatoes, bread and rice. Glycogen: exists of many pieces of glucose and gets stocked in our bodies as a carb reserve. This gets broken down in case of necessity. Fibers are indigestible carbs, but are nonetheless important for our body. Insoluble fiber on the one hand provides a proper functioning of the intestines and lowers our cholesterol, while soluble fiber makes our stool soft and stimulates our intestines. Our carbohydrates can best be obtained by eating whole grain products, beans, vegetables and fruit. These multiple carbohydrates are of big importance for sustained efforts. Because of the low absorption in our bodies they provide us with spread energy over a longer period. It is recommended to incorporate Multiple carbohydrates into your meals on ‘game day’.