© by Lachlan

Carbohydrates are the ideal form of energy during anaerobic metabolism (short duration/high intensity activities; e.g. 100m sprint). At the molecular level a carbohydrate atom consists of 6 carbon (C) molecules, 12 hydrogen (H) molecules, and 6 oxygen (O) molecules; also referred to as CHO. There are three forms of carbohydrates (mono – and disaccharides are known as simple sugars; polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates), which are dependent upon the length of the carbohydrate molecule:

  1. Monosaccharides (simple sugars: glucose & fructose)
    1. Glucose (= blood sugar)
    2. Fructose (the sweetest form; occurs naturally in honey)
    3. Galactose
  2. Disaccharides (2 monosaccharides)
    1. Maltose (= glucose + glucose): maltose is produced during starch (energy storage form in plants) breakdown (e.g. carbohydrate digestion)
    2. Sucrose (= glucose + fructose): regular table sugar
    3. Lactose (= glucose + galactose): lactose is the principle carbohydrate of milk; “milk sugar” (what is lactose intolerance?)
  3. Polysaccharides (also called complex carbohydrates)
    1. Glycogen: energy reserves in the body, composed of glucose
    2. Starches: energy reserves in plants, composed of glucose
    3. Fibers: provide little or no energy because their bonds can’t be broken by human enzymes, which means that they don’t contribute any energy to the body because they can’t be broken down into monosaccharides (glucose) but they can lower glucose levels (blood sugar)


Hydrolysis & Condensation

The catabolic chemical reaction that breaks down carbohydrates into smaller compounds is called hydrolysis. On the other hand, the anabolic chemical reaction where carbohydrates are put together to form a larger molecule is called condensation.

  • Hydrolysis (broken apart by water; a water molecule splits into H and OH)
  • Condensation (synthesis of 2 monosaccharides)

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