Difference Between Sugar and Carbohydrates

There are some essential micro nutrients that our bodies need on a daily basis to remain fit and healthy. These are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Among these three, carbohydrates are the components of our dietary intake that provide the energy that we require to complete our daily tasks. Carbohydrates are organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. People mistakenly think of sugar as carbohydrates and talk of them as synonyms which is wrong. Sugar is only a type of carbohydrates and called simple carbohydrates. Let us see the differences between sugar and carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are divided into 4 groups





Out of these monosaccharide and disaccharides are known as simple carbohydrates, and these are also referred to as sugars. Because the word saccharide is derived from a Greek word meaning sugar, people remain confused between sugar and carbohydrates. Another factor that causes confusion is the nomenclature of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates have names ending with suffix –ose. In medical terminology blood sugar is called monosaccharide glucose, milk sugar is called disaccharide lactose, and table sugar (the sugar we eat daily) is called disaccharide sucrose.

The chemical formula of a carbohydrate is Cx(H2O)y. Simple carbohydrates thus have a formula C(H2O)y where y is three or more. Sugar is one carbohydrate that is absorbed by our bodies readily while body takes more time to absorb complex carbohydrates.

We get carbohydrates when we eat different food products. Body metabolizes these carbohydrates into glucose (a simple carbohydrate) that is readily used by the body as a form of energy.

It is thus clear from this analysis that all sugars are carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. Only simple carbohydrates are sugars whereas there are many more complex carbohydrates. As complex carbohydrates are broken down slowly, energy is time released and not instant in their case as in simple carbohydrates or sugars. When three or more sugars are linked together to make complex carbohydrates, they become starches.


In brief:

• Carbohydrates are one of the three essential micronutrients for our bodies

• Carbohydrates are either simple or complex

• Simple carbohydrates are called sugars, whereas complex carbohydrates are called starches