Glycogen:
Answers to FAQs

What is glycogen?

It’s a polysaccharide molecule that the body produces for energy use over the short-term.

Essentially, it’s a starch analog produced in the liver on the signaling of insulin. Although the liver makes the majority of the body’s stores, the brain, muscles, and other tissues can create this energy source as well.

How many units of glucose go into one chain?

An average polysaccharide chain contains around 60,000 units of simple sugars bonded together.

How is it made?

This is an oversimplification of the process, but essentially, when we eat meals rich in carbohydrates, these foods get digested down to simpler sugars, like glucose, which then enter the liver.

Meanwhile, the pancreas secretes insulin, which then migrates to the liver and sets off enzymes to catalyze a reaction to transform the glucose molecules into long, easily transportable molecules.

Can you obtain this fuel source if you eat a low carb diet?

Yes. Even if you have no carbohydrates in your diet, you'll still make it. You'll just get the basal sugars from the breakdown of proteins (thanks to the action of another hormone called glucagon) .

What happens when too many or too few of these polysaccharides circulate in the blood?

A patient may develop diabetes. Problems storing sugar can develop gradually over time, or they can result faster, particularly if they’re brought on by disease. Individuals who suffer from hypoglycemia typically have high glycogin levels but also too much insulin. They thus may need more glucagon.

Return from Glycogen to Glossary

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