Complex Carbohydrates For Sustained Energy
Complex carbohydrates consist of three or more simple sugar molecules (monosaccharides). Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (complex sugars) are part of the group of complex carbohydrates. The former consists of three to ten monosaccharides, while the latter consists of at least 10 to thousands of monosaccharides. Due to this structure, these long-chain carbohydrates are "harder" for the body to digest. They can only be broken down into glucose with the help of digestive enzymes. However, our organism needs more time to break down complex carbohydrates into glucose compared to the breakdown of simple carbohydrates (fast carbohydrates). The slower breakdown process results in the glucose being released into the bloodstream slowly and evenly (slow carbohydrates). This causes the blood sugar level to only rise slowly and remain at a stable level, which keeps the insulin level overall low and avoids spikes in blood sugar.
Types of complex carbohydrates
Oligosaccharides relevant for a vegan diet are:
Relevant polysaccharides include:
- Starch (starch-containing foods)
- Fiber (cannot be digested; high fiber diet, list of high fiber foods)
Complex Carbohydrates for Athletes
Complex carbohydrates are particularly suitable for athletes because they provide the body with energy gradually, rather than all at once or in a very short period of time, as is the case with simple sugars. This means that the body has energy available for a longer period of time, which is beneficial for training. Therefore, the carbohydrate requirements should be mainly met through complex carbohydrates.
Sources of Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates can be found in:
- Whole grain products