that of the ring structure as their final shape.

Similar to amino acids and fats, when you link the simple units (the sugars) together you get carbohydrates with different properties. You can link glucose units together to get a glucose polymer and in fact the body stores units of glucose linked together in the liver and muscle called "glycogen," a term most people are familiar with.

Carbohydrates or sugars are made primarily of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms that cyclize into a ring. Carbohydrates can be "simple" or "complex" by the number of rings you hook together and the way in which they hook together. Though the rings can be slightly different, their common theme is

You can also link different kinds of sugars to get different products. For instance, if you combine glucose with fructose you get sucrose (table sugar). If you combine glucose with galactose you get lactose (milk sugar) and so on.

Link a bunch of sugars together and you get polysaccarides. Combine two sugars together like the previously mentioned lactose and you get a disaccharide. Of course, by themselves they are call monosaccharides. Are you starting to see a repeating theme here?

Link a simple unit together with other units and you get a product the body can do all sorts of things with. Linking units together gives you a product (fats, carbs, and proteins) and breaking down the products into units (ultimately) gives you energy.

So simple yet so complex.

You will notice I have not mention the "essential carbohydrates" because there is no such thing! Though the body runs best on an intake of some carbs in the diet, the body can make its own carbohydrates from protein and other non-carbohydrate substrates as mentioned in the protein section.

Going in reverse from digestion, the body breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates and ultimately blood sugar (glucose) which can go onto be used for many different functions, such as the production of ATP (the body's universal energy molecule). Depending on the carbohydrate and other factors, different carbohydrates will have different effects on blood sugar; in particular how fast blood sugar rises and falls (Gin, H., 2000).

The ability of a carbohydrate food to raise blood sugar quickly or slowly is called the glycemic index (GI). The GI was developed to track what foods effect blood sugar at different rates.

Interestingly, many carbohydrates that are considered "complex" have been found to raise blood sugar rapidly while a few "simple" carbohydrates don't have a dramatic effect on blood sugar. GI rating of a food is based on how much blood glucose rises after consuming a carbohydrate food over a 2-hour period. This is compared to a reference, which is glucose, a simple sugar.

Some GI scales now use white bread as the reference, but we will use the glucose scale in this chapter. For instance, if you consume 50 grams of glucose (yuk), you will get dramatic elevation in blood sugar. If you eat say 50 grams of carbs found in the form of oranges, your blood glucose would probably rise approximately 44% as high as compared to glucose.

So, the GI rating for oranges would be 44 on the glucose scale. Using white bread as the reference carbohydrate, it would be a different number. Capich?

Below is a partial list of the GI. There is no hard science to what is considered a low or high GI food per se, but a good guide is low is below 50, intermediate is between 50 and 75 and high GI foods are 75 and above on the scale.


brown rice pasta 92

spaghetti 40

linguine, durum 50

spag. protein enriched. 28

macaroni 46

vermicelli 35

macaroni & cheese 64

vermicelli, rice 58


apple 38

kiwi 52

apricot, canned 64

mango 55

apricot, dried 30

orange 43

apricot jam 55

papaya 58

banana 62

peach 42

banana, unripe 30

pear 36

cantaloupe 65

pineapple 66

cherries 22

plum 24

dates, dried 103

raisins 64

fruit cocktail 55

strawberries 32

grapefruit 25

strawberry jam 51

grapes 43

watermelon 72


Lentils 28

lentil 30

Soybeans 18

navy 38

Baked beans (canned) 48

pinto 42

baby lima 32

split peas 32

chickpeas 33

soy 18

kidney 27


barley 22

millet 75

brown rice 59

rice, instant 91

buckwheat 54

rice, parboiled 47

bulger 47

rye 34

cornmeal 68

sweet corn 55

couscous 65

white rice 88

Dairy Foods

milk, full fat 27

milk, skim 32

ice cream, full fat 61

yogurt, low fat, fruit 33


white bread 70

wholemeal bread 69

pumpernickel 41

dark rye 76

sourdough 57

heavy mixed grain 30-45

Breakfast cereals

All Bran Soy' n Fibre 33

Rice Crispies 82

Raisin Bran 61

Cheerios 83

Froot Loops 69

Puffed Wheat 80

Special K 69

All Bran 42

Grape Nuts 75

Porridge 46

Corn Pops 80

Cornflakes 84

Snack foods

Mars Bar 65

jelly beans 80

chocolate bar 49

Low Carb Diets Explained

Low Carb Diets Explained

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