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Carbohydrates provide energy for body function and activity by supplying immediate calories. This is accomplished by the transformation by the body of carbohydrates into glucose, the main sugar in the blood and the body's basic fuel. Carbohydrates are stored in the liver and in muscle as glycogen. The body transforms glycogen in the liver into glucose for release into the bloodstream when it's needed for energy.

There are two general types of carbohydrates, Simple and Complex. Simple carbohydrates are the sugars, glucose, fructose (both from fruits and vegetables), lactose (from milk), and sucrose (from cane or beet sugar). Complex carbohydrates consist primarily of starches as well as fiber that occurs in all plant foods. Complex carbohydrates are better for us than simple carbohydrates because complex carbohydrates have more nutritional value (usually include protein, vitamins, etc.).

A high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet can reduce the risk for five of the ten leading causes of death in the United States: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and atherosclerosis. Fifty-five to sixty percent of daily calories should come from carbohydrates, with no more than fifteen percent of total calories from simple carbohydrates. Sources of carbohydrates include grains, legumes, nuts, potatoes, and fruits.


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