Differences Between Carbohydrates & Lipids

Whole-grain bread is a good source of healthy carbohydrates.
Whole-grain bread is a good source of healthy carbohydrates. (Image: bread image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

"Carbohydrate" has become a dieting bad word in recent years with the low-carb diet trend that grew with popular weight-loss methods such as South Beach Diet and Atkins Diet. For people who really know their nutritional terms, there is another term that is closely related to carbohydrates: lipids. Lipids, found in fatty foods, also has a nasty connotation associated with it; both are necessary parts of a balanced diet, however, when consumed in moderation.


The function of lipids is to help cellular membrane function. In fact, lipids are crucial to cell function. Oils, fats, fatty acids, steroids, cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides are all compounds referred to as lipids.


Combine oxygen, carbon and hydrogen and the result is a carbohydrate (a sugar) molecule. Cells need carbohydrates for energy. There are healthy carbohydrates and unhealthy ones: The difference between the two is what function or purpose they serve in the body. Good carbohydrates are easier to break down into single sugar molecules to enter the bloodstream. Bad carbohydrates (or too many healthy carbs) cause extra work for the digestive system to try to break down all those sugars. Whole grains, vegetables, beans and fruits are all examples of food containing good carbohydrates. Pastries, processed foods and corn syrup are examples of foods with bad carbohydrates.

Lipids vs. Carbohydrates

The main difference between a lipid and a carbohydrate is that the lipid is more reduced, chemically speaking. Due to lipids having fewer bonds to break apart to digest, they hold more energy per gram than carbohydrates do.

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