Saturday, June 20, 2009



This is the most basic unit of carbohydrate. Examples of monosaccharides include fructose (sugar found in fruit) and glucose (also called blood sugar). Cells can use the glucose found in food directly for energy, while fructose is converted to glucose in the liver.


Combine two monosaccharides and the result is a disaccharide. Sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide and it's the result of combining glucose and fructose. The sugar in milk, lactose, is another disaccharide. The collective name for both monosaccharides and disaccharides is simple sugars. Simple sugars are quickly absorbed by the body and provide a rapid source of energy.
Simple sugars such as fruit and energy drinks are a good food choice to refuel AFTER a game when the body's energy stores are low.


Starch and fibre are both polysaccharides. Starch is the combination of hundreds of monosaccharides joining together. Nutritionists often refer to polysaccharides as complex carbohydrates. Examples include bread, potatoes, rice and pasta. It takes longer for the body to break these complex structures down so they release their energy over a longer period than simple sugars.
Fibre differs from starch in that it cannot be digested and used for energy. It's still an important dietary component though and there is a growing link between lack of fibre and certain degenerative illnesses.
Starchy complex carbohydrates are the best choice BEFORE a game as a pre-match meal.
In Part 5 of this series, we'll cover sample pre and post competition meals and what they should contain. Closely related to the subject of carbohydrates is the Glycemic Index and that's something we'll cover later also.
In Part 2, we'll examine protein and in Part 3, the different types of fat available to the body. We'll also cover what the optimal balance of these three macronutrients is and how you can easily measure that.

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