Definition of Carbohydrates and Functions of Carbohydrates for the Body


To meet our energy needs in one day certainly needed carbohydrate content. With this content, the energy in our body increases. That means, one of the functions of carbohydrates is to add energy to the body.

On this occasion, we will discuss the meaning of carbohydrates to the functions of carbohydrates. So, what are you waiting for, see this review until it’s finished, OK?

Understanding Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the most abundant organic compounds on Earth. Carbohydrates are nutrients that function as a source of energy for the body. This energy source is the main food for the brain.

Therefore, if a lack of carbohydrates can actually trigger health problems, so you cannot avoid them. Carbohydrates have various functions in the body of living things, especially as fuel, food reserves and building materials.

When you consume carbohydrates, the body will break them down into glucose. Glucose or blood sugar is the main source of energy for cells, tissues and organs of the body. This substance can be used immediately or stored in the liver and muscles.

Most carbohydrates can be found in grains. However, not a few food manufacturers add these nutrients to other processed foods, in the form of starch or added sugar.

Everyone’s carbohydrate needs generally vary, depending on age, gender, physical activity, and medical conditions suffered. Therefore, the balance of the amount of intake should always be maintained. Don’t get too much or too little. In addition, extreme diets by limiting carbohydrate intake and other nutrients should be avoided.

Healthy adults generally need a carbohydrate intake of 220 to 300 grams per day. So, don’t get short of carbohydrate intake, so that your body still has the right energy, so it can start activities to the fullest.

Carbohydrate Source

Basically, there are lots of foods that contain carbohydrates and can be substituted for rice. Here is the full explanation.

1. White Rice

White rice is a food that is quite high in carbohydrates. White rice is the staple food of Indonesia. In 180 grams of white rice there are 50 grams of carbohydrates.

Not only is it high in carbohydrates, white rice stores vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, protein, iron, selenium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium which are also needed by the body even in small amounts. Glucose from white rice is useful for the main source of energy or fuel for the body, especially for the brain.

2. Brown Rice

Brown rice or red rice is a food that is considered healthier than white rice. In one cup of brown rice there are about 36 grams of carbohydrates. Even though the carbohydrate content is lower, red rice has fiber which is beneficial for the body. Brown rice also functions as an antioxidant.

3. Sweet Potatoes

A medium-sized sweet potato with its cloudy skin is about 23.61 grams. And this one food also stores vitamins A, C, and potassium which are beneficial to health.

4. Corn

The next choice of food that contains carbohydrates is corn. Consumption of 100 grams of corn, then you will get about 25 grams of carbohydrates. Not only carbohydrates, corn has protein and vitamin C needed by the body.

5. Appeal

This apple, which has a hard texture but tastes good, contains quite high carbohydrates. In one medium-sized apple there are about 25.15 grams of carbohydrates. Apples also store vitamins such as vitamins A and C which are good for the body. Potassium and fiber content make this one fruit even richer in nutrients.

6. Bananas

Fruits can also be a source of carbohydrates. Banana is a fruit that is quite high in carbohydrates. One medium-sized banana contains about 26.95 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, bananas store potassium, vitamins A and C.

7. Red Beans

The next carbohydrate-containing food is red beans. Consumption of one cup of red beans will produce carbohydrates of approximately 21 grams.

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The protein and fiber content is high enough so that it can add nutrients to the body. Not only that, the potassium in red beans makes this food have many health benefits, one of which is to prevent inflammation of the large intestine.

8. Oat

One cup of oats can provide about 27 grams of carbohydrates. In addition to carbohydrates, oats contain protein and five and four grams of fiber. A study says that oats derived from wheat are beneficial for maintaining heart health. Oats are usually consumed in the morning as a breakfast menu.

9. Potatoes

Carbohydrates in potatoes are about 66 to 90 percent. This tuber is indeed quite filling. You can consume it by boiling, frying, or processing it in other forms.

10. Dates

Medjool dates have a carbohydrate content of around 17.99 grams. In addition, dates are also rich in vitamin A, fiber, calcium, phosphorus and potassium which are beneficial for health. The sweet taste and soft texture make many people love this Middle Eastern specialty.

11. Raisins

This food from dried grapes contains about 129.48 grams of carbohydrates in one cup. In addition, raisins store potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and are a good source of antioxidants for the body.

Types of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are known to have two types. The body will digest both types of macronutrients in different ways. The following explanation is summarized from various sources:

Types of Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are usually found in candies, syrups, or fizzy drinks. These foods and drinks are made from refined sugars that do not contain fiber or vitamins.

These types of food are known as “empty calories” and have the potential to increase body weight.

Even though it doesn’t have calories, the body can still process these simple carbohydrates. When the simple sugars produced by carbohydrates are already in the bloodstream, insulin will help glucose enter the body’s cells.

Energy will be obtained by the cell. Insulin will also help the remaining glucose to enter the liver and muscles to be stored as energy reserves. If glucose cannot be stored in cells for energy, it will be converted into fat.

This is what ultimately makes many people believe that carbohydrates can make you gain weight. Even if you know how to manage it, carbohydrates can provide many benefits.

For example, by doing regular exercise so that the glucose reserves in the muscles can be used. So when there is excess glucose, it can be stored in the muscles and become an energy reserve.

Types of Complex Carbohydrates

The function of carbohydrates for the body is also supported by this type of carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are digested by the body by breaking down long chains of sugar before they become energy.

Complex carbohydrates take longer to process in the body than simple carbohydrates. On the bright side, complex carbohydrates can provide consistent energy and prevent fat accumulation in the body.

After complex carbohydrates enter the small intestine, enzymes will begin to break down carbohydrates into glucose. At that time, glucose begins to enter the bloodstream. Then glucose will be needed in the same way as glucose in simple carbohydrates.

However, complex carbohydrates take longer to enter the bloodstream. The advantage of complex carbohydrates is that they can provide energy for a longer time than simple carbohydrates. So when consuming this type of complex carbohydrates can make us feel full longer.

There are several types of food that are able to provide optimal carbohydrate function for the body, such as:

  • Whole grains and bread containing these ingredients (whole grain) Brown rice, brown rice, or sago
  • Whole grain cereal pasta
  • Nuts
  • Tubers, such as sweet potatoes
  • Fruits, such as bananas, apples, mangoes, or dates.

Functions of Carbohydrates for the Body


Here are some of the functions of consuming carbohydrates for the body, including:

1. As an Energy Source

The function of carbohydrates is as a source of energy. When carbohydrates are digested, the body will convert them into glucose. This substance is a source of energy for the body.

What we need to know is that carbohydrates are divided into two types, namely complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide more lasting energy. Meanwhile, simple carbohydrates provide energy in a short time.

Carbohydrate intake from every food consumed will be broken down into sugar in the body, then absorbed by the digestive tract and into the bloodstream.

With the help of the hormone insulin, sugar in the blood will enter the body’s cells and be processed into energy. Meanwhile, excess sugar or glucose in the body will be stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. When completely unused, glucose will be converted into fat.

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2. As a Weight Manager

Not a few people think that the consumption of carbohydrate foods can increase body weight. That assumption is not just a myth. Complex carbohydrates can provide energy for longer.

So when consuming it, we can feel full longer and reduce appetite. To get this one carbohydrate function, choose foods that contain complex carbohydrates, such as wheat bread, nuts, and vegetables.

These types of carbohydrate foods are known to be rich in fiber which can provide the effect of satiety for longer and lose weight.

Most people who want to lose weight choose to go on a low-carb diet. That is, you may only get 25 to 150 grams of carbohydrates per day.

In fact, this weight loss diet is actually safe, but you still need to consult with a nutritionist. This is because a low carb diet sometimes makes you not get enough fiber.

Lack of fiber and other carbohydrates can also cause health problems, such as constipation (constipation) to malnutrition.

3. To Support Brain Function

One of the functions of carbohydrates is to support brain performance. Glucose in carbohydrates is a good source of food for the brain. This organ is known to work harder so it needs more energy to carry out its function.

At least the brain needs about 20% of energy in order to function optimally. Therefore, carbohydrates are very necessary and good for supporting brain function.

4. To Prevent Disease

Consuming too many carbohydrates is not good for health, especially for the heart. However, complex carbohydrates such as high-fiber foods can help lower body cholesterol.

A study proved that complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber will not increase blood sugar. In addition, fiber can also prevent diabetes because it does not trigger a spike in blood sugar.

5. Protect Protein

Another very important function is to protect proteins. In the human body, protein functions as an energy reserve or other energy source as a substitute for carbohydrates. If the amount of carbs consumed is less, protein will replace the function.

In fact, protein functions not only as a source of energy, but also for the formation of other important organs in the body. Therefore, a sufficient amount of carbohydrates will help to keep the protein in order to function as it should.

6. Prevention of Various Diseases

Carbohydrates are also known to reduce the risk of various diseases. This one carbohydrate function is supported by several studies that state that the fiber content in complex carbohydrates is thought to be able to suppress the risk of heart disease, obesity, and digestive disorders.

Carbohydrate sources rich in fiber include vegetables, potatoes or sweet potatoes cooked with their skins, and whole grains.

7. Maintain the Health of the Digestive System

The next function of carbohydrates for the body is to help maintain digestive health. Complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber can help defecate more smoothly and regularly. In addition, fiber can also prevent us from the risk of colon diseases such as diverticulum.

8. Source of Calories

Carbohydrates also serve as a source of calories for the body. The number of calories in carbohydrates is actually not that much, but it helps enough to meet the body’s needs. If you want to add calories, it is highly recommended to consume carbohydrates that are high in fiber.

9. Maintain Muscle

Carbohydrates are also known to maintain muscle. This is because carbohydrates can maintain muscle mass. When the body lacks glucose, the muscles will be broken down into amino acids. Then, it is changed again into glucose or other compounds that produce energy.

How to Manage Carbohydrate Eating Patterns

Here are some ways that can help you in organizing a healthy diet to meet your daily carbohydrate needs, namely:

1. Breakfast with grains

When starting the day, you can have breakfast with oatmeal or cereal added with grains. Try to choose a type of cereal that contains 4 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.

2. Eat wheat bread as a lunch or snack

If you are tired of rice as a staple food during lunch, try to replace it with wheat bread. You can choose whole wheat unleavened bread that contains ingredients such as: whole wheat, black wheat, or other whole grains.

3. Replace potatoes with beans

Instead of eating potatoes that can increase weight, you can replace them with beans. The reason is that beans are a source of carbohydrates that can be digested slowly and contain healthy protein.