Fast (simple) carbohydrates

Fast or simple carbohydrates are sweet-tasting organic compounds that consist of one or two monosaccharide molecules. Sweeteners are used as an alternative to fast carbohydrates .

Foods with the highest sugar content

Simple carbohydrates are divided into two groups::

  • Monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose);
  • Disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose).


Foods that contain a large amount of fast carbohydrates include: sugar, maltodextrin, confectionery, sweet drinks, flour products (especially from fine wheat flour), potato dishes, rice and semolina porridges. The most harmful products are those that are absorbed most quickly. An indicator of this is the level of glucose in the blood after a meal – the glycemic index. The higher the glycemic index, the more simple and easily digestible carbohydrates the product contains. The table shows the main list of products. Also read the article: list of foods with a low glycemic index.

Biochemistry and physiology of fast carbohydrates]

Monosaccharides have the simplest chemical structure, which makes them very easy to break down and digest. Simple carbohydrates are water-soluble. They also have a pronounced sweet taste.

Food sugar consists of glucose and fructose. Fructose, compared to other simple carbohydrates, is less stored in glycogen and more in fat. Fructose is also less likely to stimulate the secretion of the anabolic hormone insulin.

Glucose is absorbed most quickly. Glucose is the main source of glycogen synthesis in the liver and muscles, as well as a source of energy for the entire body. First of all, glucose is consumed by the brain, followed by the liver, muscles, kidneys, heart and other organs. First, all complex carbohydrates are broken down to glucose and only then absorbed by the entire body. Glucose is the body’s main energy metabolite.

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The Harm of Fast carbs

When sugar is consumed, the taste buds, intestines, and brain activate the reward system. This activation is no different from how the body will react to drugs

Current evidence suggests that fast carbohydrates are the root cause of many diseases in modern humans. Evolutionarily, the human body is not adapted to consume large amounts of simple carbohydrates, since they are poorly available in nature. The modern food industry has made it possible to significantly increase the availability of these nutrients, so due to their attractive organoleptic properties, a large proportion of products now contain sugar and other easily digestible carbohydrates. In addition, fast carbohydrates stimulate the release of endorphins, temporarily suppressing stress, and therefore cause psychological dependence.

Causes of harm. Fast carbohydrates have a very high rate of absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, so they cause an immediate increase in blood sugar and a significant release of insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar by converting it into fat. Sometimes this leads to a drop in sugar levels below normal and the emergence of carbohydrate hunger. As a result, a person consumes sweets again, thus creating a vicious circle that leads to obesity.. Thus, a whole cascade of pathological reactions is triggered: obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, atherosclerosis, stroke and myocardial infarction. The latter two diseases are the main cause of death, and according to studies, poor nutrition is the cause of every fifth death.

So, in a 2017 study, a group of scientists from the University of Surrey found that increasing the amount of sugar in the diet can lead to a significant increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Another study found that sugar and its metabolism control the main components of Hippo-Yap signaling to regulate tumor genesis.

Fast carbohydrates are not recommended for weight loss or muscle gain, as they will have a negative impact in any situation. The use of fast carbohydrates is considered justified (in small amounts) only when gaining weight before or immediately after training, during the so-called protein-carbohydrate window, as well as in the morning.

The greatest danger to the figure of fast carbohydrates are in the afternoon. At this time, the body is more predisposed to convert them into fat.

An exception to the rule is mannose – this carbohydrate is not included in the metabolism and is not dangerous for the figure.