I have discussed in detail about the history of carbohydrates, its different names and its fatal effects when your diet includes food sources rich in carbohydrates majorly as compared to other macro nutrients that are fats and proteins. “Macronutrient” may be a new word for you so lets get familiarize with it first.
“Macro” means big or large and “nutrient” stands for any substance acquired from food necessary for growth and vital functions to be performed within a cell.
Macronutrients are nutrients that provides calories or energy to us and are required in large amount that is more than 10 gm per day. The classic examples are carbohydrates, proteins and fats but you will be amazed to know that there is one more substance which is considered to be a macronutrient known as “water”.
This article will only be focusing on Types of carbohydrates, classes of Carbohydrates and the Carbohydates sources.
Classes / Types of Carbohydrates
“Monos” stands for “single unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”, therefore also called simple sugars or monosaccharides, these are the most basic units (monomers) of carbohydrates containing one sugar unit.
Examples of monosaccharides include Glucose, Fructose and Galactose. The formula for the mentioned monosaccharides is C6H12O6.
Glucose: is a simple sugar which is the most abundant monosaccharide. It is mainly made by plants during photosynthesis from water and carbon dioxide, using energy from sunlight, as I have already mentioned in my previous article, “Carbohydrate- The Slow Sweet Poison-(Benefits, uses and loss)”
The classic example of Glucose is “Glucon-D”, Ripened Banana, Chiku etc.
Here I m talking about the abundance which means that the other forms of sugars will also be present in it but it is considered to be dominated by Glucose.
Fructose is a naturally occurring sweetest form of fruit sugar found in plants and mainly fruits. It shares the same formula as of glucose. The best examples include Mango, Orange, Apple etc. Whenever you eat a fruit and find tangy flavor in it, this indicates that that fruit is a predominant source of fructose though other sugars will also be present in it.
Galactose is a milk sugar which is as sweet as glucose. It mainly appears as a part of lactose which I am going to describe ahead. It also shares the same formula of Glucose and Fructose. It is mainly found in milk, pulses and legumes.
“Di” stands for “Two unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”, therefore also called a double sugars or disaccharide is any substance that is formed by two molecules of simple sugars or Monosaccharides linked to each other.
Examples of disaccharides include Maltose, Sucrose and Lactose. They have the same chemical formula, C12H22O11
- Maltose is also known as malt sugar. When 2 units of glucose are joined together maltose is formed. The typical examples are Malt based drinks, barley in beer, bread, rice etc. So basically it is found in starchy grains vegetables and fruits.
- Sucrose is a common sugar, a disaccharide composed of 2 monosaccharides known as glucose and fructose. Sucrose is produced naturally in plants from which table sugar is refined and other examples includes honey, jaggery, Sugarcane etc. Saccharose is also a name for sugars in general specially sucrose.
- Lactose is a sugar found only in milk and dairy products like cheese and ice creams. It is also a disaccharide composed of 2 monosaccharides known as galactose and glucose. It makes up around 2-8% of milk and if a person is lactose intolerant that is due to too little production of an enzyme called Lactase which is needed to break down lactose.
“Oligo” stands for “Few unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”, therefore oligosaccharide is any substance that is formed by two to ten molecules of simple sugars or monosaccharides linked to each other. All Disaccharides can be considered as Oligosaccharides but Vice versa is not possible.
All oligosaccharides are not so digestible and do put load on body.
Examples of oligosaccharides include Raffinose, Stachyose, Maltotriose and saccharose.
- Raffinose: It is a trisaccharide that is having 3 sugar units composed of 1 molecule of Galactose, Fructose and Glucose. It is found in Grains, Pulses like Red kidney beans (Rajma),Vegetables, Broccoli, Cabbage. Raffinose are also used in skin moisturizers and smoothers, prebiotics and food or drinks additive. Its chemical formula is C18H32O16
- Stachyose: It is also a tetrasaccharide that is having 4 sugar units consisting of one molecule of Glucose and Fructose and 2 molecules of Galactose. It is found in many vegetables like Soybeans, greenbeans and pulses like Bengal gram (Black chickpea). Stachyose is less sweeter than sucrose and is not completely digestible by human body. Its chemical formula is C24H42O21.
- Maltoriose: It is a trisaccharide that is having 3 sugar units consisting of 3 glucose molecules. It is used as a sweetener in cakes, breads and other confectionery items. It has 30% sweetness as sucrose.
“Poly” stands for “Many unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”, therefore Polysaccharide is any substance that is formed by more than ten molecules of simple sugars or Monosaccharides linked to each other. Its general chemical formula is 5. It is the most abundant long chain carbohydrate found in food. Their structure can be linear or highly branched examples includes starch, glycogen (only found in animal not in plant), fiber (cellulose and chitin).
Starch: Starch is the major source of energy stored as a carbohydrates in plants. It is composed of 2 substances that are Amylose, a linear chain polysaccharide and Amylopectin, a branched chain polysaccharide. Natural starch has 10-20% Amylose and 80-90% Amylopectin.
Amylose: contains unbranched, linear chain which gives it a reason to be absorbed slowly in our body. For example:- Sweet potato, whole grains, Brown rice etc.
Amylopectin: contains linear as well as branched chain both which makes it fast digestible in our body. For example: Potato, corn, sago, white rice etc.
Now let me explain Amylose and Amylopectin in a more simpler way with examples. The reason of slow digestion of Amylose in our body is due to the bonds present between the atoms. The bond is represented with the name Alpha 1,4 Glycosidic bond.The reason of fast digestion of Amylopectin in our body is due to the two different bonds present between the atoms, one in the linear chain and other in the branched chain. The bond is represented with the name Alpha 1,4 Glycosidic bond in linear chain and the bond present within the branches is called Alpha 1,6 Glycosidic Bond.
Let me illustrate it with an example below:-
The above given picture of Amylose depicts a straight linear chain. Part (A) where You can imagine it as if you have laid out a straight single line of crackers on the ground. Part (B), On the contrary where Amylopectin in the above given picture shows a straight linear chain along with the multiple branches which you can imagine a straight single line of crackers tied with multiple branches of the same crackers at different junctions.
Now what do you think, if you light the crackers which part will burn first? Part (A) or Part (B)?
You must be on the way to choose Part (A) as it appears too simple that a straight single line of crackers will burn faster than the crackers with the branched chain. But my dear friends, its not like that. Part (B) will burn faster due to the branches present in it at multiple junctions as this will allow the fire to target various other extensions at the same time when it is moving in straight line.
Fiber & Cellulose
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that makes up the structural material in the leaves, stems, and roots of plants.
Fiber stays intact until it nears the end of your digestive system as there are no enzymes in our body to digest it such as CELLULASE.
Fiber is divided into soluble and insoluble fibers.
Soluble fibers are those which dissolves in water and gets fermented in the colon (Large intestine) into gases and active by-products such as Short Chain Fatty Acids (SFA) produced in the colon by the gut bacteria and these SFA’s serve as a source of energy to colon cells.
What is Cellulose? It is an insoluble substance which forms the main structure of plant cell walls and of vegetable fibers such as cotton. Cellulose is non digestible fiber found in mostly plant cell and microorganisms cell, oysters, sea shell to provide rigidity hence cant be digested by us as done by herbivorous animals. We don’t have Cellulose enzyme but herbivores do have. Cellulose is also present in papers, salad, fruit with skin, paraffin wax, polythene.
So you can imagine as if you are eating a paper which is of no use, whenever you eat salad or fruit with skin.
You probably believe fiber prevents colon and breast cancer, lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease, regulates blood sugar, curbs diabetes and appetite, induces weight loss, cleanses the colon, gives relief from diarrhea and constipation. Tragically, none of this is true!
In fact, fiber-rich foods and fiber supplements are either the primary cause of most of these conditions, or major contributors. Let me explain why there is such notion!
Fibrous food sits in your large intestine giving you the feeling of fullness. Fibers such as Fruits and vegetable salad do not get absorbed by the digestive system thereby providing you with zero Calories. The consequence is that you will not be able to eat food which could have provided you with the Calories for your body to perform.
A very common example of cholesterol related diseases exist in and around us where doctors prescribe fiber rich food to the patients suffering from cholesterol related issues. I would be glad to inform you that fibrous food hampers the absorption of cholesterol in the blood stream specially the soluble fibers. The soluble fiber gets attached to the cholesterol and prevent cholesterol entering into the blood stream. I have already discussed the importance and functions of cholesterol in our body in my earlier article, “Know About Good Fat and Bad Fat (Saturated fat, Unsaturated fat and Trans Fat)”.So, if you eat fiber then the valuable cholesterol will not be absorbed by body leading to the obstruction of various vital functions to be carried within the body.
The Deadly Combination of Carbohydrates with Fats
What is the common thing you can think of as a part of your breakfast? Isn’t it the yummy, scrummy and crunchy mouth watering bread and butter toast! Did you ever notice that even after having such a so called “healthy food” how you have been surrounded by so many metabolic disorders such as heart diseases, obesity and hypertension.
As per your knowledge, it must be the butter which is the main culprit because it is a type of fat and this has been stuffed into people’s mind brilliantly that it is the fat which is responsible for all sort of health problems and issues. But I have beautifully explained in my previous article on fats that it was always the bread ( A source of Carbohydrate) that created the problem and not the butter!
An another example we can verbalize is of Ghee which is absolutely fine and very healthy but Ghee with Roti is not good for health because roti is again a good source of carbohydrates.
The key rule which you all must remember is that
- Carbohydrates should never be combined with any of the other macronutrient such as Proteins and fats.
- Protein and fat are meant to be eaten together be it naturally available or processed food. For example: Egg is a classic example of protein and fats together available in nature and you can add more fat by adding ghee, butter, coconut oil, cream, cheese while cooking it.
- Caution:- But the egg which you have prepared above should not be eaten along with the bread or roti because this will deteriorate the nutritional potency of food. It will in turn force your body to take energy and nutrition from carbohydrate first as it is easily digestible and this process will promote fat gain because the body is not adapted to use fat as a source of energy.
- Even if you are eating carbohydrates, your intake shall not exceed more than 30-50 grams per day!
Having said that protein and fats must be eaten together, there are some people who may face difficulties like gastric issues, acidity, psychological related problem when they switch their lifestyle and diet from incorrect nutrition to correct one. By correct nutrition we mean, that your plate should be filled with protein and fats while the carbohydrates quantity should be minimal like to that of a pickle.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load:
As a beginner you need not have to directly jump into hard core correct nutrition approach where carbohydrates are avoided to a greater extent and proteins and fats are the main sources of food. For you we can plan a “Low Carbohydrate Diet” where your daily consumption of carbohydrates will be around 100 grams in a day. To plan a low carb diet we must know about the food products and their potency in raising blood sugar level and not only this, you must have the knowledge and skills of planning the food items in such a manner that it poses minimal sugar load inside the body.
GLYCEMIC INDEX is a test of how fast is a carbohydrate absorbed into the blood after 2 hours of consumption.
The faster the rate of absorption, the more the rate of glucose increase in the blood. Keeping this in mind we must consider those food classes which are low at the Glycemic index and Glycemic Load chart while planning a low carb diet. This should be done in order to prevent the overload on pancreas which is designed to secrete insulin but the abnormal rise in glucose level due to ingesting only carbohydrate that too of high “Glycemic Load” which in turn forces the pancreas to produce insulin in abundant amount.
This can cause damage to pancreatic cells which are responsible for the production of hormones important for the optimal functions of body.
GI value can be between 0 to 100.
GI> 70= High Glycemic carbohydrates.
GI of 55-70= moderate Glycemic carbohydrates.
GI<55 = low Glycemic carbohydrates
Glycemic Index of pure glucose is 100.
Banana is 51-55
Now you can see the Glycemic Index chart with the range from Low Glycemic Index to High Glycemic Index. There are many food items in carbohydrate group with low Glycemic Index. So, does it give you the liberty to eat those food items to fill in your stomach? The answer is “NO” because Glycemic Index is not fully equipped to give you the complete information about the glucose stress it will lay in the body. Now I will introduce “Glycemic Load” to you . As the name suggests it gives full information which comprises of Quantity of Carbohydrates eaten and the rate of absorption.
The Glycemic load of the food is a number that estimates the quantity of carbohydrates that will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it.
We can also define this term which accounts for how much carbohydrate is in the food and how much each gram of carbohydrate in the food raises blood glucose level.
Glycemic load tests both : quantity of carbs eaten and speed of its absorption.
Glycemic load= G.I * Quantity of carb(GM)/100
G.L.=<10= Low GL
G.L.=11-19= MEDIUM GL
Now let’s prove it with an example:
Glycemic Index of a Banana is 50-55 depending upon the ripeness.
So, if you eat 1 banana (20 gram), its Glycemic Index is low but we don’t know the glucose or sugar load, it will pose on the body, so we can find this by the following method:
Glycemic Load: Glycemic Index * Quantity of carb eaten (grams)/ 100
55 *10/100 = 5.5 (Low Glycemic Load)
If you eat 2 bananas (20 grams each) then:
Glycemic Load: 55 * 40/100 = 22 (Very high Glycemic Load)
GI=70, 20 gm per serving (30 gm wheat flour)
if 1 chapatti is eaten
G.L= 70 * 20/100 = 14 (medium Glycemic load)
if 3 chapati are eaten at a time
G.L= 70 * 60/100 = 42 (very high G.L)
You can see clearly that despite coming in the category of low to medium Glycemic Index group it posseses a very high Glycemic Load on body if eaten in more quantity.
This tool should be used by you when preparing a low carbohydrate plan for yourself or for a client without forgetting the importance of protein and fats which needs to be added in a low carb diet in sufficient amount. It will help a person to start a healthy lifestyle with the carbohydrate summed to his or her diet because people find it difficult to have their meal without such an addictive macronutrient that is the food items complementing to carbohydrates. It will be a nice kick start towards the healthy lifestyle.
I have specified ample of authentic data below for your reference where you will find Glycemic Index of different food items of carbohydrate group with the help of which you can find out the Glycemic Load with the formula and illustrations mentioned above to plan a diet with low sugar load.
But you will be overwhelmed to know that in order to help you I have also provided the table with both Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load so you can use these skills to transform your life.