There are two types of carbohydrate.

Sugars – also known as simple carbohydrates.

Starches – also known as complex carbohydrates.


These two types of carbohydrate have different effects on our body.

Sugars (simple) – these raise the body's blood sugar level very quickly, as they enter the blood stream rapidly after they are eaten.

Starches (complex) – these keep blood sugar levels constant, because they enter the blood stream very slowly.


The body needs carbohydrate for a number of reasons:

  • for energy – 1g of carbohydrate gives the body 3.75kcal of energy
  • wholegrain varieties of carbohydrate provide the body with fibre
  • carbohydrate has a protein-sparing effect, allowing protein to be used for its primary function of growth and repair


We can get complex carbohydrates from foods that are rich sources of starch:

  • bread – including bagels and wraps
  • rice
  • pasta
  • cereal
  • potatoes
A range of starchy foods containing complex carbohydrates, including bread, pasta, rice and cereal
Remember that wholegrain varieties of pasta contain more fibre.

We can get simple carbohydrates from the following foods:

  • sweets
  • biscuits
  • shakes
  • honey
  • table sugar
A selection of sweets, a source of simple carbodydrates
Remember, these foods raise blood sugar levels quickly.