From Fellrnr.com, Running tips
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So what carbs are 'easily digested'? In some literature, quickly digested carbs are considered 'simple' and slow digesting carbs are 'complex', but this is not a useful division. The difference between simple and complex is based on the chemistry of the carb molecule - small molecules like sugar are 'simple' and big molecules like starch (bread, etc) are 'complex'. This division into simple and complex is unfortunately crap (biochemistry term meaning 'not useful').
The digestion of carbs is a sophisticated system that does not follow this simple division. Some simple carbs (Fructose) are very slow to digest, whereas some complex carbs (maltodextrin) are very easy to digest. The actual measure of digestibility of carbs is normally called 'Glycemic Index' (GI), which is how much the blood sugar rises when a food is eaten . For instance, white bread (a 'complex' carb, GI 70) has a higher GI than table sugar (a 'simple' carb, GI 60). This is because highly refined flour in bread is more easily digested than table sugar (which is half fructose).
Understanding the GI of food is important to health. Spikes in blood sugar has been linked to Diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. As a runner, high GI food is great for taking in the middle of exercise or directly after. At other times, it's best to avoid high GI foods. The web site [http://www.nutritiondata.com/ http://www.nutritiondata.com] has a lot of nutritional information on many foods, and includes a 'glycemic load', which can be useful in choosing foods. The site [http://www.glycemicindex.com/ http://www.glycemicindex.com/] has a database of GI values for food.