Like protein and fat, carbohydrate is a macronutrient. Carbohydrate provides your body, your muscles, brain and central nervous system, with the energy they need to function properly. It’s your main fuel source.
There are three types of carbohydrate:
Sugar is what is called a simple carbohydrate. Starch and fibre are both complex carbohydrates. The difference between simple and complex carbohydrates? The chemical structure is different, but in straightforward terms, you absorb simple carbohydrates more quickly. They deliver more immediate energy.
Simple carbohydrates include natural sugars found in fruit, vegetables and some milk products. And then there’s the sugar added to processed food and drinks by food manufacturers, too often in unhealthy quantities.
Starch and fibre are complex carbohydrates. Starch takes much longer to be absorbed. Examples of starch are food made from grains such a bread and pasta, peas, beans, potatoes, brown rice and lentils.
All sugar and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion and are then absorbed into your bloodstream and known as blood sugar or blood glucose. Any excess blood glucose which you don’t require for your immediate energy needs is stored in your liver, muscles and other cells, or is converted into fat.
Fibre (and there are two types) is not absorbed, but as you have seen before, soluble fibre helps prevent nutrients being absorbed too quickly, and insoluble fibre helps food progress through your gut.
Fibre should be included with your three macronutrients. A minimum of 30 grams per day.