Types Of Carbohydrates & Low Carbohydrate Diet

Introduction

Types Of Carbohydrates & Low Carb Diet: I have discussed in detail in my previous article, “Carbohydrates – The Slow Sweet Poison” about the history of carbohydrates, its different names and fatal effects. Nowadays everyone’s diet includes food sources majorly rich in carbohydrates as compared to fats and proteins. lets get familiarize with “Macronutrient” as it may be a new word for you.

“Macro” means big or large. “Nutrient” is any substance we get from food necessary for growth and overall development.

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide kilocalories or energy to us. We require them in larger amount that is more than 10 gram per day. The classic examples are carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water.

This article will only be focusing on Types of carbohydrates, classes of Carbohydrates, Carbohydates sources & low carb diet plan

Classes / Types of Carbohydrates

Monosaccharides

It is a type of carbohydrate where “Monos” stands for “single unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”. It is 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. I have already mentioned it 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. That means that the other forms of sugars will also be present in above examples. But Glucose dominates them .

Fructose

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. Galactose also shares the same formula as of Glucose and Fructose. It is mainly found in milk, pulses and legumes.

Disaccharides 

It is a type of carbohydrate where “Di” stands for “Two unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”. Therefore Double sugars or disaccharide is any substance 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. We get maltose upon joining 2 units of glucose. The typical examples are Malt based drinks, barley in beer, bread, rice etc. So basically it is present 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. Other examples include honey, jaggery, Sugarcane etc.
  • Lactose is a sugar found only in milk and dairy products like cheese and ice creams. It is also a disaccharide which we get by adding up galactose and  glucose. It makes up around 2-8% of milk.

Oligosaccharides:  

It is a type of carbohydrate where “Oligo” stands for “Few unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”. Therefore oligosaccharide is formed by 2 to 10 molecules of 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 place high amount of 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 present in skin moisturizers, 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 present 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.
  • Maltotriose: It is a trisaccharide 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.

Polysaccharides:

It is a type of carbohydrate where “Poly” stands for “Many unit”, “Sacchar” means “sugar”. Therefore, Polysaccharide is formed by more than 10 molecules of simple sugars or Monosaccharides linked to each other. It is the most abundant long chain carbohydrate present 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. It is 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.U

Now Let Me Explain

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 2 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.

Amylose Structure – Starch , Types of Starch , Structure of Starch
Amylopechtin Structure – Starch , Types of Starch , Structure of Starch , Structure of Amylopectin

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 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 as 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

It 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.

It has 2 divisions: soluble and insoluble fibers.

Soluble fibers are those which dissolves in water. Their fermentation into gases and active by-products such as Short Chain Fatty Acids (SFA) takes place in colon (Large intestine).

What is Cellulose? It is a type of carbohydrate. It is an insoluble substance which forms the main structure of plant cell walls and of vegetable fibers such as cotton. Cellulose is a non digestible fiber found mostly in plant cell and microorganisms cell, oysters, sea shell. It provides rigidity hence we can not digest it 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 :

 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

Fibrous food sits in your large intestine giving you the feeling of fullness. Your Digestive system cannot digest Fibers such as Fruits and vegetables. Therefore it provides 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.

But you can always have small portion of soluble fibers during the journey of low carb diet.

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 attaches with cholesterol and prevent cholesterol entering into the blood stream. I 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, the absorption of cholesterol will not happen leading to the obstruction of various vital functions 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 why people are suffering from metabolic disorders when they are having carbohydrates based diet!

If you eat bread and butter, it must be the butter as per your knowledge which is making you fat. Right? Because butter is a type of fat only. But I have beautifully explained in my previous article on fats that it is always the bread ( a source of carbohydrate) creating 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 rich source of carbohydrates.

The key rule which you all must remember in low carb diet is that:

  1. You should never combine any type of Carbohydrate with other macronutrient such as Proteins and fats.
  2. Consume Protein and fat together be it naturally available or processed food. For example: Egg is a classic example of protein and fats together available in nature. You can add more fat by using ghee, butter, coconut oil, cream, cheese while cooking it.
  3. Caution:- Consumption of egg with bread or roti 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. This process will promote fat gain because of not adaption of your body to use fat as a source of energy.
  4. Even if you are following a low carb diet, your intake shall not exceed more than 30-50 grams per day!

Remember, You should eat protein and fats 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, your plate should contain adequate amount protein and fats. And the quantity of carbohydrates should be minimal like to that of a  pickle. Consider low carb diet, choose that type of carbohydrate which are low in Glycemic Load & follow your hunger.

Glycemic  Index, Glycemic Load & Low Carb Diet:

As a beginner you need not have to directly jump into hard core correct nutrition approach. You can start minimizing carbohydrates gradually and proteins and fats should be the main sources of food. For you we can plan a “Low Carb 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 carbohydrate absorption takes place in the blood after 2 hours of its 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. Follow low carb diet in order to prevent overload on pancreas designed to secrete insulin. But the abnormal rise in glucose level due to ingesting only carbohydrate that too of high “Glycemic Load” in turn forces 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.

Table GI :

Glycemic Index value is between 0 to 100.

G I > 70= High Glycemic carbohydrates.

Glycemic Index 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 can not give you the complete information about the glucose stress placed on 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.

Table GL :

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

G.L=>20=HIGH 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)

Another  Example  is  wheat chapati   

GI=70, 20 gm per serving (30 gm wheat flour)

 if you consume 1 chapatti then

Types of  Carbohydrates

G.L= 70 * 20/100 = 14 (medium Glycemic load)

if  you consume 3 chapati at a time then

    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.

You must utilize this tool to prepare a low carbohydrate diet plan. It is beneficial to add adequate amount of protein and fats along carbs. This 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.

Conclusion :

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.

In order to help you, I am providing you with the table of both Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load so you can use these skills to transform your life as well as others.

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I wish you will be able to inculcate all this knowledge and keep hopping on this blissful ride of knowledge with me towards a healthy life. This is a theme on which Fitness Cravers Academy thrives.

Crave For Good Crave For Fitness


Dr.Priyanka Jain (PT)

I am a zestful and exuberant lady who loves to observe different activities across the globe be it the fashion, beauty, nutrition, fitness & wellness, politics and immeasurably more. Let's share what we all know with each other and make this world a better place.

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