The key difference between carbohydrates and lipids is that the carbohydrates are immediate energy sources in living organisms while the lipids act as a long-term energy resource and tend to be utilized at a slower rate.
Carbohydrates and lipids are important nutrients in living organisms. They are organic compounds, and they serve as key sources of energy. Hence, we take carbohydrates and lipids from our diet since they are essential for a healthy body. Both carbohydrates and lipids constitute of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Structurally, carbohydrates are polymers that exist in different forms such as monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. On the other hand, lipid is a nonpolymeric molecule that constitutes a glycerol molecule and three fatty acid chains.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Carbohydrates
3. What are Lipids
4. Similarities Between Carbohydrates and Lipids
5. Side by Side Comparison – Carbohydrates vs Lipids in Tabular Form
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrate is the most abundant organic molecule in nature. It is a macromolecule composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Synonyms for this term are saccharide or sugar. Thus, according to the number of carbon atoms and combinations of joining these, carbohydrates can be divided into monosaccharide, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides are the simplest, and they are called simple sugars. These include glucose, galactose and fructose. Simple sugars are good sources of energy in the human body. Furthermore, they serve as the base products for the synthesis of many compounds. Glucose is the main form in the body, and it can be stored as glycogen.
Disaccharides contain two molecules of monosaccharides or simple sugars. Sucrose, lactose and maltose are examples for disaccharides. Oligosaccharides form from three to six molecules of monosaccharides. They are helpful in maintaining gut bacteria, which help in the synthesis of various products. Polysaccharides are large molecules composed of many as 1000 monosaccharides. Moreover, in plants, carbohydrates mainly exist as starch (in the form of polysaccharides). Most starchy plant-based foods are high in carbohydrates, and it gives off 4 kilocalories per gram of carbohydrate.
What are Lipids?
Lipid is a complex molecule with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, as well as, nitrogen and sulphur, with other small constituents. These include fats, phospholipids, fat-soluble vitamins, waxes and sterols. The main functions of these lipids include the formation of the cellular membrane, energy storage, cellular signalling, and other minuscule nutrient functions with relation to vitamins A, D, E and K. Most lipids found in food are in the form of cholesterol, triglycerol, and phospholipids.
Lipids are vital in maintaining good health, and any deficit can lead to syndromes that retard optimum function. However, if there is unbalance in the intake of lipids along with familial tendencies, dyslipidaemia can develop, and the restriction of lipids is necessary. But still, there are essential fatty acids that need to be taken.
What are the Similarities Between Carbohydrates and Lipids?
- Both carbohydrates and lipids are essential organic compounds.
- They contain the basic building blocks of C, H and O.
- Furthermore, they are present in animals, as well as, in plants.
- Moreover, these two types of biochemical are present in the human body and are taken in the form of food.
- Both carbohydrates and lipids offer important nutrients in our diet.
- Our body must first digest these food components into smaller particles in order to absorb nutrients into our bloodstream.
- Both are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
- Also, they undergo varied changes once taken into the human body.
- Furthermore, both are associated with chronic diseases when taken in excess and need to be moderated once the disease has stricken.
- Besides, the energy stores of most animals and plants are both carbohydrate and lipid in nature.
What is the Difference Between Carbohydrates and Lipids?
Carbohydrates and lipids are two of the four important biomolecules. They both are energy sources. However, carbohydrates are available as immediate energy sources while lipids store energy for later use and they release energy at a lower rate. Therefore, this is the key difference between carbohydrates and lipids. Furthermore, carbohydrates are water soluble while lipids are water insoluble. Hence, this is another difference between carbohydrates and lipids. Also, a further is that the carbohydrates contain C, H and O while lipids contain C, H, O, S and N. Moreover, some lipids are vitamins while carbohydrates do not include vitamins.
Considering their functions, the difference between carbohydrates and lipids is that the lipids involve in cell signalling processes while carbohydrates do not. When considering the energy release, one gram of carbohydrate releases 4 kcal while one gram of lipids releases 9 kcal. This is another difference between carbohydrates and lipids.
Below infographic on the difference between carbohydrates and lipids contains more details about these differences.
Summary – Carbohydrates vs Lipids
Carbohydrates and lipids are two types of biomolecules. They are key energy sources. Among them, carbohydrates are the most abundant, and they act as immediate energy sources. On the other hand, lipids act as long-term energy resources, and they are available for energy release when there is a shortage of carbohydrates. Furthermore, carbohydrates are water soluble while most lipids are water insoluble. However, some lipids are amphipathic. Moreover, carbohydrates contain C, H and O while lipids contain C, H, O, N and S. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between carbohydrates and lipids.
1. Davidson, Eugene A. “Carbohydrate.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Oct. 2018. Available here
2. Nordqvist, Christian. “Carbohydrates: Uses, Health Benefits, and Risks.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 17 Oct. 2017. Available here
3. “Lipid.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Dec. 2018. Available here