Carbohydrates consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules. They are our body’s preferred energy source. They give us energy for brain function, muscle contractions and much more. Carbohydrates are found in foods with grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and soy based food products. After the body processes carbohydrate rich foods, it has a glucose molecule which is the primary energy source for your body. For athletes, low glucose levels is equal to quick fatigue and diminished brain function which can impair decision making abilities and overall performance. Carbohydrates are simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are also known as sugars and are either monosaccharides or disaccharides. The body uses simple carbohydrates quickly because they’re very close to the desired single glucose molecule. Three or more linked sugar molecules make complex carbohydrates which are also known as starches. The body breaks every last link until it has a single glucose molecule. One carbohydrate gram gives the body four calories for physical activity.
Fiber is also technically a carbohydrate but it is set apart since the body can’t digest fiber. It provides no calories and no energy, but fiber is essential for the body to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Fiber also helps you have regular bowel movements so you are able to eliminate general waste, harmful bacteria, and even carcinogens in the feces. Research shows that a high fiber diet may lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, digestive problems and diabetes.
Source: Shryer, Donna. Peak Performance: Sports Nutrition. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2008. Print.