How does the body use carbohydrates?

Heidi Skolnik, MS
Sports Medicine

Sports medicine and nutrition specialist Heidi Skolnik explains how the body uses carbohydrates. Watch Heidi Skolnik's video for tips and information on active nutrition.

Eric Olsen
The carbohydrates in fruits, grains, and vegetables are converted by the body into a substance called glycogen and used for energy. Some of this glycogen is stored in the liver. Some is sent to the muscles and stored as muscle glycogen, if those stores have been reduced through exercise or fasting, typically at night while sleeping (and thus a breakfast should be rich in carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen for an energetic start to the day). And some of the carbohydrates become glucose (sugar) and remain in the bloodstream to be used by the brain, the kidneys, and the red blood cells, which all depend on blood glucose to function. Once the liver, blood, and muscle energy stores are filled, any extra carbohydrates are converted to fat -- for storage around such locations as the thighs and midsection, in the form, of course, of fat.
Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

More About this Book

Lifefit: An Effective Exercise Program for Optimal Health and a Longer Life

An easy-to-follow programme for lengthening and improving lives. More than an exercise guide, this text is an effective tool for making meaningful lifestyle decisions to benefit long-term fitness. In...

Continue Learning about Carbohydrates and Health

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.