Making Glucose

by | Jul 16, 2021 | Nutrition

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If you think of body fat as an enemy, gluconeogenesis can be an ally. But only up to a point—if your body deems it necessary, it will break protein down to produce glucose, even if that protein has to be extracted from your muscle tissue. 

Every cell and organ in our body needs energy to survive and operate. To get that energy cells can burn one of two fuels that are produced during digestion: the simple sugar glucose and fatty acids.

When you haven’t eaten for a few hours, these fuels are no longer being provided by digestion. But you still need a continuous supply of energy to live, so where does it come from?

Backup Plan A: During the period of time right after a meal, digestion generates more glucose than is needed by cells. Those excess glucose molecules are linked together into a substance called glycogen, which is mainly stored in muscles and in your liver.1 When you’re running low on glucose, glycogen is broken down to produce it. The glycogen in your body will generally last for a few hours to a day, depending on your physical activity.

Backup Plan B: When glycogen runs low, your liver and certain other organs can make glucose out of other materials, such as the part of fat called glycerol, and the amino acids that make up proteins. That process is called gluconeogenesis (genesis – creation, neo – new, gluco – glucose). 

If you think of body fat as an enemy, gluconeogenesis can be an ally. But only up to a point—if your body deems it necessary, it will break protein down to produce glucose, even if that protein has to be extracted from your muscle tissue. 

Glycogen and gluconeogenesis are two of the bigger pieces of the puzzle you need to put together in order to understand your body’s most important function: energy management. The more of that puzzle you understand, the better will be your ability to drive those energy management processes in a direction that leads to better current and future health. 

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

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The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

Reference:

  1. Glycogen Metabolism, Biochemistry, 5th edition, National Center for Biotechnology Information Bookshelf (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21190/).

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