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Low carb diets restrict the consumption of carbohydrates. The difference between the Atkins and the South Beach diet is within the amount of restriction. The induction phase of the Atkins diet restricts most carbohydrates while the South Beach diet allows ‘good’ carbohydrate consumption. These diets can really put one’s will power to the test. Why?

The human body’s primary source of energy is glucose. Glucose is derived from the breakdown or hydrolysis of carbohydrates that are consumed. Limiting carbohydrate consumption forces the body to use fat or protein as an energy source. Decreased carbohydrate consumption may leave you feeling tired and easily fatigued until the body adjusts to the change.

The word carbohydrate arose because molecular formulas of these compounds can be expressed as hydrates of carbons which yield a basic carbohydrate empiric formula of (CH2O)n. Carbohydrates consist mainly of the combination of two chemistry functional groups: the carbonyl and the hydroxyl group. Carbohydrates exist in different forms such as monosaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Monosaccharides are usually called simple sugars. These simple sugars cannot be broken down or hydrolyzed into a simpler form (glucose). A complex carbohydrate refers to one or more linked simple sugars that require digestion for absorption.

Oligosaccharides contain at least two monosaccharide units. Oligosaccharides may be referred to as disaccharides or trisaccharides depending on how many units of monosaccharides the compound contains. Maltose and sucrose (table sugar) are considered disaccharides.

Polysaccharides contain many monosaccharide units. In order for the body to use polysaccharides, these compounds must be broken down into a simpler monosaccharide form. Examples of polysaccharides are starch and cellulose (fiber).

 


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