Difference between Carbohydrates and Proteins
By Theydiffer - November 30, 2015

Our bodies need nutrients to function as they provide energy as well as building materials that help the body to grow, develop and heal. Carbohydrates and proteins are very important substances which belong to the macronutrient group, which is a class of nutrients the body needs in significantly larger quantities, as compared to other nutrients like vitamins or minerals, for a healthy life.

It is very important to ensure that we take in the right amounts of carbohydrates and proteins in our diets to make sure that we get the essential nutrients which keep us active and energetic for a good life.


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Carbohydrates are organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and they are required by the human body as an energy source. Glucose is the main form of carbohydrates in the body and it can be referred to as the chain of sugars that keep our brain working and our body moving.

Proteins are organic compounds made up of interlinked chains of amino acids, which consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur. Proteins are very essential for the growth and maintenance of the human body and help in the formation of red cells and other blood components; they build tissues and muscles along with performing various other functions.

Proteins are very essential as they form cellular membrane particles, nucleic acids, vitamins, enzymes, and hormones in connection with other molecules and provide a lot of energy which helps the body to grow and function normally.

Carbohydrates vs Proteins

What is the difference between carbohydrates and proteins? There are many people who consider carbohydrates and proteins to be the same energy providing materials that our bodies need, but they do not understand what the basic difference between the two are, and how they help our bodies in their own individual ways.

The main difference between these two nutrients is that while carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel that enables it to function, proteins are the building blocks of the body. Carbohydrates can do no good unless proteins are there to develop the body, its muscles and mass.

Carbohydrates are needed by the body to make it run and function, while we need proteins to keep our muscles and glands healthy. Carbohydrates include sugars like table sugar or fruit sugar, starches like potatoes or bread, and also fiber as it is good for a healthy digestive system, slows down blood sugar metabolism and keeps the cholesterol levels normal.

On the other hand, protein is the raw material which is used by the body to make and maintain healthy muscles, bones, skin and hair. Meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and vegetables are the best sources of proteins and provide what the body’s tissues and muscles need to function properly. Lack of protein in a diet can result in loss of muscle mass, weakness and low resistance.

One main difference between the two nutrients is that carbohydrates have a fairly limited range of uses which involves either structural support or energy release. Proteins, on the other hand, have infinite uses which range from enzymatic activity to structural support and formation of membrane channels to decomposing other molecules to numerous other cellular and muscular activities which are essential for a healthy body and mind.

Comparison Chart

Carbohydrates are made up of sugarProteins are made up of amino acids
Carbohydrates are mainly used for energy in the bodyProteins are mainly used for building the structure of the body as they are called the building blocks
The main purpose of carbohydrates is to provide fuel to the body cellsThe main purpose of proteins is to build up healthy body cells
An adult’s daily intake of carbohydrates is 45 to 65 percent of total caloriesAn adult’s daily intake of proteins is 10 to 35 percent of total calories