What Is The Difference between Carbohydrates and Fats?

What is the difference between carbohydrates and fats? The main difference between fats and carbohydrates is that fats are not soluble in water while carbohydrates are soluble in water. But fats are soluble in alcohol and are the main source of energy in the body. 

The body needs both carbohydrates and fats up to a certain amount. These macronutrients provide energy to the body but they tend to have different chemical compositions. Carbohydrates are the simplest form of sugars and are absorbed in the small intestines. 

We wrote this article to help you understand how carbohydrates and fats related to each other chemically. You will also learn the similarities between carbohydrates and fats. Take your time to read through up to the end and let us know your views or suggestions in the comment section. 

10 Difference between Carbohydrates and Fats (With Table)

Difference between Carbohydrates and Fats With Table

Basic Terms Carbohydrates Fats
Content Consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen Consist of a carboxylic acid with hydrocarbon on the side.
Solubility Highly soluble in water Not soluble in water but soluble in an organic solvent like ethanol
Sources Fruit juices, bread, potatoes, table sugars Seeds, nuts, animals, and vegetables
Role Provide energy to the body Enhance growth in the body
Dietary Recommendations At least 45-65% Around 20-35%
Calories 4 calories/gram. 9 calories/gram.
Absorption and Storage Broken down into glucose to enhance metabolism. Stored in the liver. Broken down into fatty acid molecules and cholesterol. Stored in different parts of the body.

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are primary foods that provide energy for the body. They can either be simple or complex carbohydrates.

The empirical formula for carbohydrate is (CH2O) n where C is carbon, H is hydrogen, and O is oxygen. The letter “n” represents the number of carbs.

However, there are some carbohydrates that contain nitrogen, phosphate, and sulfur although this is under rare circumstances.

Carbohydrates are further subdivided into monosaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides have one unit of sugar while oligosaccharides have between 2 and 10 units of sugar. Polysaccharides have more than 10 units of sugars.

Characteristics of Carbohydrates

  1. They are organic molecules with the empirical formula of  (CH2O)n
  2. The subgroups of carbs are Monosaccharide, Oligosaccharide, and Polysaccharide
  3. They have 4 calories of energy per gram 
  4. They are hydrophilic in nature
  5. The major digestive enzyme is α-amylase.

Primary Functions of Carbohydrates 

  1. Provide energy for body organs and tissues
  2. Enhance the creation of structural components in animals and plants
  3. Synthesis of coenzymes and the backbone of the genetic molecule known as RNA
  4. Promote immune system, fertilization, preventing pathogenesis and blood clotting
  5. Promote photosynthesis in plants 

What Are Fats?

Fats are substances that help the body to use vitamins and keep the skin quite healthy. Also, it is another way how the body stores energy.

Sometimes fats are described as the simplest form of lipids with carboxyl acid at the side of the hydrocarbon. The scientific name of fats and oils is Triglycerols.

Research shows that fats are derivatives of esters of fatty acids with glycerol and hydrocarbons. Both oil and fats are insoluble in water but soluble in the inorganic solvent.

Fats are either saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fatty acids that lack a double bond between the carbon atoms. On the other hand, unsaturated fatty acids have a double bond between carbon atoms.

Therefore, the fat that is solid at room temperature is saturated fatty acids while those that are liquid are unsaturated fatty acids.

Characteristics of Fats/Lipids

  1. They have 9 calories of energy per gram 
  2. They are hydrophobic in nature
  3. They have complex digestion process
  4. The major digestive enzyme is Lipase.
  5. They are classified as saturated and unsaturated fats 

Primary Function of Fats

  1. Storing energy in the cells
  2. Promote absorption and distribution of fat-soluble vitamins
  3. Providing structural stability for cells and cushioning vital organs
  4. Cell signaling mechanisms
  5. Synthesis of reproduction hormones

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Main Differences Between Carbohydrates and Fats 

  1. Fats are esters of fatty acids and glycerol while carbohydrates are polymers of monosaccharides.
  2. Carbohydrates are hydrophilic in the water while fats are hydrophobic in water
  3. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the body while fats are meant for keeping skin healthy.
  4. Carbohydrates are classified according to the number of sugar units while fats according to the number of bonds.
  5. Fats are meant for maintaining body temperatures whereas carbohydrates for enhancing cell growth and adhesion among others.
  6. Carbohydrates are soluble in water while fats are not soluble in water 
  7. Carbohydrates undergo simple digestion process whereas fats undergo complex digestion process
  8. Consumption of carbohydrates reduces the risk of colon cancer whereas fats consumption increase the risk of heart failure and obesity 
  9. Natural sources of carbohydrates are milk, fruit, maize, and wheat while for fats are seafood, sunflower seeds, and the avocado fruit. 
  10. The industrial application of carbohydrates in bakery products, noodles, and thickening agents whereas those of fats are cosmetic and wax production. 

Similarities between Carbohydrates and Fats

  1. Both help to provide body energy
  2. Both are obtained from a healthy diet
  3. Both are macronutrients

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Carbohydrates and fats are quite essential as far as body energy is a concern. However, it is not recommended to eat food with too many fats since it has a negative health impact. Both carbohydrates and fats are obtained from the diet since the body cannot supply these macronutrients on its own.

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