Carbohydrates are an important energy source for humans and as dietary fibre mainly found in foods of plant origin. One gram of carbohydrates provide 17.2 kJ (4.1 kcal) of energy. The class of carbohydrates is divided into monosaccharides (eg. glucose, fructose), (eg. lactose, sucrose) and polysaccharides (eg. starch, pectin, cellulose). The mono and disaccharides are a quick source of energy because they can be processed immediately. Thus, the blood sugar rises rapidly. Polysaccharides raise the blood sugar levels more slowly because first they have to be broken down by the body to make their energy available.
carbohydrates in your diet
A sufficient intake of carbohydrates is essential for a healthy and balanced diet. The German Nutrition Society recommends a daily intake of 5-6 grams per kilogram of body weight, but with a maximum of 50-55% of the total energy intake. Good carbohydrate suppliers are fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholesome cereal products because they provide important vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre additionally to the energy.
Excessive carbohydrate intake leads to weight gain. The energy which is not immediately needed by the body is partly stored in the liver and in muscle cells as glycogen. The rest is converted into fat and stored as an energy reserve in the fat cells.