Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet. The most popular sources of carbohydrates for athletes are probably: Rice, pasta, potatoes and oatmeal. Carbohydrates are classified according to their molecular size into mono-,
di-, oligo- ,poly- and saccharides.

The smallest building blocks of carbohydrates are the monosaccharides. We know the monosaccharides from human nutrition: Glucose (grape sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and galactose (mucilage sugar).

Glucose and fructose are found in sweet fruits and in honey. Galactose, unlike the other two, is rarely found in isolation. Glucose is the most important source of energy in terms of quantity. However, the absorption of free glucose is low.

It is only produced in the digestive tract by splitting more complex carbohydrates, especially from the polysaccharide starch. Glucose is found in all cells and in the blood.
The hormone insulin from the pancreas is necessary for the absorption of glucose from the blood into the cells and its breakdown for energy production.

Sucrose, lactose and maltose are the most important disaccharides. They each consist of 2 monosaccharides. Maltose consists of 2 glucose molecules, lactose consists of glucose and galactose and sucrose consists of glucose and fructose. Lactose is only found in milk and dairy products. Lactose also helps to maintain an optimal intestinal flora, as it is converted into organic acids in the large intestine by so-called bifidus bacteria, thereby creating a favourable intestinal environment.

However, there are people who react to lactose with diarrhoea. In such lactose intolerance, these people lack the enzyme lactase in the digestive tract, which breaks down lactose into its monosaccharides, which are then absorbed into the blood. It is recommended to consume A2 milk or goat’s and sheep’s milk.
All mono- and disaccharides are also called isolated sugars. Oligosaccharides are formed by linking 3 to 9 monosaccharide units.

Polysaccharides are also called complex carbohydrates. Polysaccharides are compounds that consist of numerous monosaccharides. Carbohydrates are almost exclusively consumed in plant foods. The main sources are cereals, potatoes, pulses, fruit and vegetables. In a narrower sense, carbohydrates are not essential food components, as they can be formed by the organism from other compounds.

Carbohydrate intake should be predominantly from whole grain products, fruit, vegetables and pulses, while a reduction in the intake of refined carbohydrates (sugar/white flour products) is advisable. Whole grain products, vegetables, fruits and legumes provide valuable vitamins, minerals and fibre.

In the field of sports nutrition, you can find various products in the carbohydrate category. The best known terms are probably weight gainer/mass gainer. These products offer the customer a carbohydrate-protein mix that you can mix with water or milk and thus have a drink with up to 1,000 kcal.

First and foremost, you should make sure you eat a balanced and varied diet.
If you are not able to cover your needs with your diet, I will be happy to advise you. You can also easily make your own massgainer: Take 20-30g protein powder and a portion of carbohydrates (instant oats, maltodextrin, waxy maize starch) and mix everything with 400-600 ml water or milk.