Sources of Carbs: Monosaccharides - Disaccharides - Polysaccharides

Major Carbohydrate Sources

Carbohydrates are Essential Component to Daily Meals

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The simplest of all carbohydrates, or sugars. As part of your post exercise recovery, simple sugars can have great benefit.

Glucose (or Dextrose). Commonly termed blood sugar, glucose is found naturally in food and is in almost every carbohydrate formation. The digestion of all forms of carbohydrate produces glucose, as does the process of releasing glucose from stored muscle or liver (called glycogenolysis), or the formation of glucose from amino acids and triglycerides (called gluconeogenesis).

Fructose (or Levulose). Called fruit sugar, fructose appears in large amounts in fruits and honey, and is considered the sweetest of the simple sugars.

Galactose. You won't find a natural free-form source of this simple sugar. Instead, galactose binds with glucose to form milk sugar, or lactose.


The combination of two monosaccharides, at least one of which is glucose, forms these simple sugars. Sucrose. The combination of glucose and fructose forms sucrose, also called table sugar. It's the most common of the simple sugars, and is present in naturally occurring carbohydrate foods like honey, cane sugar, beets and maple syrup.

Lactose. Occurring naturally in milk, lactose, or milk sugar, is the least sweet of the simple sugars. The digestive disorder lactose intolerance occurs when lactase, the enzyme responsible for splitting galactose and glucose, isn't present in sufficient quantities.

Maltose. Two glucose molecules combine to form maltose, or malt sugar, and maltose is also formed whenever a starch (another form of carbs) is broken down during digestion or fermentation. Sources include cereals, germinating seeds and malt liquor's namesake, beer.


Otherwise known as complex carbs, because they're formed when multiple simple sugars combine, polysaccharides should constitute the greatest percentage of your daily carb intake.

These complex bonds make them ideal for prolonged energy demands, such as during a workout, due to their slow digestive process and the muscle's requirement for carbohydrates as its primary fuel source.

Starch. Whereas you and I store glucose as glycogen in the muscle for later use as energy, many plants store theirs as starch. Therefore if you eat a plant food, your body breaks down the plant's stored energy into usable energy for you. Common foods containing large quantities of starches are grains such as wheat and rice, legumes such as peas and beans, and tubers such as potatoes.

Fiber. These complex carbs exist only in plants and are a crucial component in digestion and health - fiber slows the rate of digestion and absorption, contributing to satiety, and in some cases can reduce total fat absorption. Also, high-fiber diets have been linked with a lower occurrence of obesity, hypertension, intestinal disorders and heart disease. You should consume at least 20-35 grams of fiber per day, utilizing about a 3:1 ratio of soluble to insoluble. Soluble fibers include pectins, gums and oat bran, while insol,uble fibers include wheat bran roughage and vegetable cellulose.

Glycogen. Although this is labeled a complex carb, you're riot likely to run to your local supermarket and buy a box of this stuff. Instead, glycogen is an energy depot made up of branching chains of glucose stored in your muscles and liver. All things being equal, consumed carbohydrates will eventually be broken down into glucose and then stored within your muscles and liver as glycogen. Any excess carbs will be processed and stored as fat.

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