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To keep us at peak performance, full of life and able to concentrate well, we need energy. Our body most easily makes use of the energy obtained from carbohydrates. But not all carbohydrates are the same. Carbohydrates include simple sugars, complex sugars as well as dietary fibre.
Carbohydrates – the subtle differences
We appreciate some carbohydrates for their sweet taste. They are found in fruit and sweets such as gummy bears and chocolates. Our preference for sweet foods is something we are born with. Infants already become familiar with the slightly sweet taste of their mother’s milk. But other carbohydrates have a neutral flavour. We eat them in the form of pasta, rice, potatoes and cereals. Dietary fibre, as found in whole grain products, vegetables and fruits, also belongs to the family of carbohydrates. Since these kinds of carbohydrates each have a different structure, they also differ in the speed in which they provide energy.
Carbohydrates for quick energy: sugars
The smallest building blocks for carbohydrates are called simple sugars (or monosaccharides). They rapidly reach the bloodstream from our digestive tract and enter our body cells. There, they can be used immediately as a source of energy. Both double sugars (disaccharides) and simple sugars, such as glucose (grape sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar) have a sweet taste. They are found in sweet foods, such as honey, fruit and fruit juices, as well as in sweets and table sugar. When the job is to rapidly replenish empty energy stores and prevent lapses in performance, simple and double sugars can serve us well. For this reason, athletes like to reach for glucose and energy bars during competitions.
Energy that leaves you feeling full longer
Foods that help maintain a constant blood sugar level are a good source of endurance and provide a sense of satisfaction that lasts for a long time. Whole grain products, legumes and vegetables have an especially favourable effect. This is because these foods contain what are known as complex sugars or polysaccharides, which our bodies must first break down before they can be absorbed and reach the bloodstream. In addition, whole grain foods, vegetables and many varieties of fruit have a low Glycaemic Index (GI). The glycaemic index evaluates carbohydrate-containing foods according to their impact on raising the blood sugar level; the lower the GI, the more favourable the effect of the food on the blood sugar level.
Energy that can’t be cracked
Our bodies are basically unable to metabolise dietary fibre. Despite this, or more precisely, because of this, these foods are very valuable for maintaining our health. They help keep our blood sugar and cholesterol levels in balance and maintain normal digestion. This is good for the figure, the heart and the circulation. If you eat whole grain products, potatoes, vegetables and fruit every day, you will be supplied with all the dietary fibre you need – along with other carbohydrates, which will be also be provided at the same time.