Besides proteins and fat, carbohydrates provide the lion’s share of usable energy (4 kcal per gram) in the form of glucose which can be expended immediately or stored for later use. In today’s health and weight-conscious marketplace, energy is at the forefront of the discussion on which kinds of carbs should be consumed, when, and in what quantity.
In food, there are three categories of carbohydrates:
- Sugar: The most common sources of sugar are naturally occurring, found in fruit, vegetables, honey, milk and of course, juices. Otherwise, the bulk of the sugar in our diets comes in ‘added form’, as an ingredient in manufactured candy, chocolate, cookies, and beverages, and as an additive to home cooking.
- Fibre: The cellular structure or connective tissue of plants and food from plants is referred to as fibre. Typical foods high in fibre are beans, whole wheat pasta, wholegrain bread, and all vegetables with their skin on.
- Starch: The product of several bonded sugar units, starch can be found in all plant-based food such as potatoes, rice and bread, and is an excellent source of long-acting energy (energy that is released throughout the day as opposed to immediately).