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Carbohydrates are sugars that provide energy for the body especially the brain and nervous system. Carbohydrates usually provide about half of our body’s energy when the body is resting or performing low level activities.

Natural carbohydrate foods are low in calories and high in fiber. Natural carbohydrates contain about 4 calories per gram however fat contain about 9 calories per gram. When we eat a food containing carbohydrates, our body will break down the carbohydrates for energy. An enzyme called amylase helps break down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) which is used for energy by the body.

When the body doesn’t need to use the carbohydrates for energy, the body stores the carbohydrates in the liver and muscles cells. When the carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles, it is called glycogen. When the liver and muscles cells cannot store anymore glycogen, the body turns the carbohydrates into fat.

Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex. The classification depends on the chemical structure of the food and how quickly the sugar is digested and absorbed.

Simple carbohydrates provide short bursts of energy followed by a lowering of blood sugar and then followed by a decrease in energy. Simple carbohydrates are also known as “sugar” and are considered “empty calories.”

Examples of simple carbohydrates/sugars include;

1. Fructose (Fruits).

2. Galactose (Milk).

3. Lactose (Dairy Products).

4. Maltose (Vegetables).

5. Sucrose  (Table Sugar).

Complex carbohydrates also known as “starchy” foods. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest so the body needs more time to release these carbohydrates into the blood as glucose.

Examples of complex carbohydrates include;












Rice (Brown & White)

Wheat Germ


Not getting enough calories especially from simple carbohydrates such as fructose (fruits), maltose (vegetables) also from complex carbohydrates such as from bananas, beans and lentils can cause malnutrition.

Getting too many calories especially from simple carbohydrates such as lactose (dairy) and sucrose (table sugar) can lead to an increase in;

Blood Sugar

Body Weight

Most people should consume between 40% - 60% of their total calories from complex carbohydrates and simple sugars such as fructose (fruits) and maltose (vegetables). Complex carbohydrates, fruits (fructose) and vegetables (maltose) provide the body with needed fiber, minerals and vitamins.

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