What is the Function of Carbohydrates? (with pictures)

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Honey contains simple carbohydrates.
Honey contains simple carbohydrates.

There is a lot of talk about carbohydrates these days. Some diets call for the ingestion of a large number of carbohydrates, whiles others recommend only a modest daily consumption of carbs. While different approaches to consuming carbohydrates are recommended, everyone agrees that the main function of carbohydrates is to supply the body with material that can be converted into energy.

Pasta is typically high in complex carbohydrates.
Pasta is typically high in complex carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate consumption is something that everyone does on a daily basis. While the carb is not the only means of providing the fuel to produce energy in the body, it is often considered to be one of the most efficient. The function of carbohydrates in the body is such that they will produce both sucrose and glucose, which the body in turn can absorb and convert into energy with relatively little effort.

Bag of oat bran.
Bag of oat bran.

Over time, investigations into the form and function of carbohydrates have led to many health enthusiasts dividing carbs into two different camps. Simple carbohydrates are those carbohydrate-laden foods that can be digested into the system quickly. Sometimes referred to as bad carbs, the simply carbohydrates tend to provide less in the way of essential vitamins and nutrients than other foods. Often, simple carbohydrates are obtained from foods that are refined and packaged, such as sugar, honey, milk, and fruit juices.

Carbohydrates provide the body with energy.
Carbohydrates provide the body with energy.

In comparison, complex carbohydrates will take longer for the body to convert into sucrose or glucose, and will be rich in vitamins and nutrients. Referred to as good carbs, the function of carbohydrates that fall into this category is to provide a steady release of energy into the body while also providing more of what each of us need from our daily diets. Carbohydrates in this category tend to be very low in processed sugar and other additives. Fresh and frozen vegetables, oatmeal, various types of legumes, dark breads, and pasta are usually considered excellent examples of complex carbohydrates.

Table sugar is a simple carbohydrate.
Table sugar is a simple carbohydrate.

People who are in a prediabetic condition or who are able to manage diabetes with diet are often counseled to focus carbohydrate consumption on complex carbs and omit simple carbs from the daily food plan. Because the function of carbohydrates that are considered complex, a small amount will provide much needed nutrients with a relatively small amount of sucrose and glucose for the body to have to assimilate.

Frozen vegetables are examples of complex carbohydrates.
Frozen vegetables are examples of complex carbohydrates.

Even within this recommendation, it may be wise for some diabetics to avoid daily consumption of some complex carbohydrates. Eating less bread, pasta, and starchy vegetables while increasing the intake of fresh green vegetables will often help to keep blood glucose levels closer to normal ranges while still providing plenty of energy producing material for the body to work with.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon117781

They help with any sports or exercise!

anon69671

helped heaps. thanks.

anon68862

this site is great! lots of information, thanks!

anon64335

great site.how much should the daily intake of carbs be?

anon50933

Thaks a lot. It gave me a much clearer pic in my mind!

anon49988

So it just provides energy?

anon47035

cool!

anon36502

thank you its very nice

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    • Honey contains simple carbohydrates.
      Honey contains simple carbohydrates.
    • Pasta is typically high in complex carbohydrates.
      Pasta is typically high in complex carbohydrates.
    • Bag of oat bran.
      Bag of oat bran.
    • Carbohydrates provide the body with energy.
      Carbohydrates provide the body with energy.
    • Table sugar is a simple carbohydrate.
      Table sugar is a simple carbohydrate.
    • Frozen vegetables are examples of complex carbohydrates.
      Frozen vegetables are examples of complex carbohydrates.