The roles of carbohydrates in the body are plenty. Carbohydrates provide energy for working muscles, so that you can get that epic workout in and Instagram it after (remember, if it’s not on social media, it never happened). They provide fuel for the central nervous system (brain and spinal chord). Did you know, your brain is only about 2% of your total body weight but uses approximately 20% of your total energy? By being the primary source of energy, carbohydrates also prevents protein from being used as energy. This is important because we want protein to do other functions for us, like preserve lean muscle tissue.
After a carbohydrate is eaten it eventually ends up as glucose in the body. Glucose is transported to various tissues and organs, including the muscles and the brain, where it will be used as energy. If the body doesn’t need the glucose for energy, because you’ve been watching a Game of Thrones marathon the whole day, it gets stored in the liver and the skeletal muscles in the form of glycogen. If the glycogen stores are full, glucose then becomes stored as fat. Glycogen stores are used as an energy source when the body needs more glucose than is readily available in the bloodstream.
- “Carbohydrate.” Carbohydrate. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/content/carbohydrate>.
- Youdim, Adrienne. “Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats.” : Overview of Nutrition: Merck Manual Home Edition. The Merck Manual, 1 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/disorders_of_nutrition/overview_of_nutrition/carbohydrates_proteins_and_fats.html>.