The primary source of energy for athletes. Carbs are essential for athletic performance and your general well-being. My favorite source of carbohydrates is wild rice, or a PowerBar if I'm in a hurry, or PowerGel if I'm in the middle of a triathlon or Ultimate game. low carb diets are Considered Harmful by many nutritionists. See also: protein, fat.

Basically, carbohydrates are just single sugar molecules repeated over and over again. A long chain polymer of glucose, to be specific. Plants store carbohydrates as starch and possibly cellulose (that tough, hard to break wall-like stuff in celery that gets stuck in your teeth), while animals store carbohydrates as glycogen. Glycogen is found mainly in muscle and occaisionally the liver. If found in excess, the body sometimes converts carbs into fats or oils.

When these long chains of glucose are digested, they are first broken down by the body into many maltose units. Maltose is a dissacharide molecule made up of two glucose molecules bonded together. After this, the body breaks down the maltose units into single glucose units, clearing the way for glycolysis (the first stage of cellular respiration), and eventually providing us with energy. Don't let the big words fool you, it's really simple. Just lots and lots of sugar arranged in funny ways.

Carbohydrates: Sugars and Polymers of Sugars

Car`bo*hy"drate (?), n. [Carbon + hydrate.] Physiol. Chem.

One of a group of compounds including the sugars, starches, and gums, which contain six (or some multiple of six) carbon atoms, united with a variable number of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, but with the two latter always in proportion as to form water; as dextrose, C6H12O6.


© Webster 1913.

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