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Carbohydrates are made up of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen synthesized by plants through photosynthesis.

The basic carbohydrates are:


Glucose (blood sugar)

Fructose (fruit sugar)

Galactose (a kind of milk sugar)


Sucrose (table sugar)

Lactose (milk sugar)

Maltose (malt sugar)


Plant polysaccharides (starch and cellulose)

Animal polysaccharides (glycogen)

Carbohydrates are the easiest form of food for the body to convert into energy. Once ingested, carbohydrates are turned into glucose, which circulates in the bloodstream and fuels muscular contraction, and glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and the liver for future use.

Simple carbohydrates, such as those found in fruits and processed sugar, metabolize very quickly in the body. Complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and rice, take longer to metabolize and therefore have a kind of “time-release” effect in providing energy to the body.

Adequate supplies of carbohydrate are essential for the serious bodybuilder for a number of reasons.

  1. Carbohydrate is a primary form of energy. The carbohydrate stored in the muscles as glycogen is what allows you to do heavy and intense weight training.
  2. Muscle size is increased when the body stores glycogen and water in the individual muscle cells.
  3. Carbohydrate in the body has a “protein-sparing” effect, keeping the body from burning up excessive protein for energy.
  4. Carbohydrate is the main source of energy that fuels the functioning of the brain, and deprivation can have severe effects on mood, personality, and mental ability.