Any physical activity requires a certain amount of energy from a person. To replenish them, you need to eat right. This means that not all foods that lead to stomach satiety contribute to energy production, and improper consumption of many of them will not cause a burst of energy, but will only increase body weight. To maintain a normal weight, not to torture yourself with strict diets and always have enough strength not only for work and family, but also for sports, you need to find out where energy reserves come from and what it is – glycogen. We will try to explain this in simple terms.
What is glycogen and how is it related to glucose?
Glycogen is not a carbohydrate; it is the main reserve polysaccharide in the human body. The name consists of two Greek words: “glyki” – “sweet” and “ginao” – to create. Its structure is hundreds of glucose molecules linked together. In other words, glycogen is a way of storing glucose. It is found in all organs and tissues of animals and humans, but its maximum amount accumulates in the liver (about 20%) and muscles (about 4%).
Any carbohydrate that enters the body (sweet fruit, bread, potatoes, pasta, etc.) is transformed into glucose and sugar during digestion. It is in this form that carbohydrates enter the bloodstream. By the way, neither proteins nor fats can be converted into glucose. The next step is to convert glucose into glycogen and store it in the liver, muscles and tissues of other organs.
After the glycogen store is built up, the remaining glucose begins to convert into fat.
As soon as the blood glucose level drops (for example, as a result of physical activity), the process of production of special enzymes is started, which in turn begin to break down glycogen accumulated in the liver and muscles, replenishing glucose reserves and thereby instantly restoring energy reserves. We recommend that you read the more detailed thematic article “Glucose and Glycogen – Similarities and Differences”.
The polysaccharide is sometimes called animal starch. This is only partially true. Its chemical structure is indeed very similar to the structure of plant starch, but it is distinguished by a more branched structure and the absence of some of the usual reactions for starch, for example, blue discoloration when exposed to iodine.
How much glycogen is in the body?
The energy systems of people differ depending on their physical activity. The total amount of polysaccharide is on average about 200-300 g, but in trained people with developed muscle mass, this figure can reach 500 g.
If a person leads a sedentary lifestyle, then he does not need a large amount of energy, which means that he has minimal reserves of its source. As a person develops his physical activity, energy needs increase and, as a result, the production of glycogen stores is activated. This results in:
- to increase overall endurance and muscle strength in particular;
- an increase in the volume of muscle tissue;
- fluctuations in weight during training.
There are many situations when the body has the least glycogen, and not only in people with reduced physical activity. Every athlete is familiar with the “squeezed lemon” feeling. This happens, for example, after a marathon, after any other type of competition, as a result of particularly hard training.
It is very important to maintain a constant glucose level. This will allow the liver and pancreas to function normally, replenish energy resources in time. For this, a sufficient amount of carbohydrates must be present in the diet. How long will glycogen last if you completely stop using carbohydrates? For a very short time – just 24 hours. This fact has been widely used to develop specific fat burning sports training. The fact is that if the main source of energy in the form of carbohydrates ceases to enter the body (or their amount is reduced to a minimum and does not cover energy costs), then it begins to use other available reserves. First, these will be the stores of glycogen contained in the liver cells, then in the muscles. And when all this is used up, then fat reserves will be used.
Factors affecting the level of the basic polysaccharide
It is important to understand that the level of energy that accumulates in the liver is influenced not only by physical activity, in particular by regular sports training. Hormones – glucogone and insulin – also play an active role in the regulation process. Their production occurs due to the consumption of special food. For example, if you focus on the use of fast carbohydrates, then they will begin to be deposited in the form of fat, if you give preference to slow carbohydrates, then they, bypassing the glycogen chain, are completely converted into energy.
How do you organize your meals to maintain normal energy levels and protect yourself from excess fat accumulation? To do this, you should pay attention to the following factors:
- The glycemic index (GI) of the foods consumed. Typically, this indicator is closely monitored by people with diabetes. And it’s for good reason: High GI foods can spike blood sugar. In a diabetic, this will cause an attack, and in an athlete, it leads to the accumulation of adipose tissue. In turn, foods with a low GI are slowly absorbed and completely broken down, which is also not suitable. In order for the body to produce the required amount of energy and at the same time not store fat in reserve, emphasis should be placed on the use of foods with a GI from 30 to 60.
- Glycemic load. Everything is simple here: the higher it is, the less polysaccharide is formed as a result of assimilation of carbohydrate food.
- The amount of carbohydrates. If you correctly calculate their dosage for one meal, the time of consumption and the intervals between meals, then you can generally eat only muffins and chocolates, have a powerful energy potential and not have a single extra kilogram of fat.
Glycogen stores and athletic training
What is muscle glycogen and what role does it play in sports? Unlike polysaccharide, which accumulates in the liver, muscle glycogen (as the name implies, by the way) accumulates in the muscles. Each muscle group has its own small supply, which is intended solely for performing the functions of this very group. In fact, its reserves are quite small. Therefore, within 40 minutes after the start of the workout, they are completely depleted and fat accumulations are used. The more the muscles are trained, the more polysaccharide they can accumulate. This means that the athlete’s endurance will increase (without affecting in any way the strength indicators), the quality of the training and the effect of weight loss will not come longer (unlike beginners, who have the opposite).
In addition, the high content of polysaccharide in muscle tissues makes them more voluminous and visually attractive, creating the so-called pumping effect. This is regularly used by bodybuilders during performances, using special sports mixtures in addition to carbohydrate dishes. We recommend that you read the article: “Glycogen – How Does It Affect Your Workouts?”
What is glycogenosis?
From the above, you already know where accumulates glycogen – mainly in the liver… However, as a result of a genetic malfunction in the body, the production of enzymes that are directly involved in the glycogen chain can be disrupted. This failure is called glycogenolysis. This is a severe, incurable pathology that manifests itself in an infant almost immediately after birth. The main symptom is pronounced fasting hypoglycemia. The child is pale, lethargic, drowsy, prone to loss of consciousness. At night, he may have convulsions, in the morning nausea and vomiting are frequent. The body develops disproportionately: the abdomen is too large, while the limbs remain unnaturally thin, the growth is low, and the bone density is also low, as a result of which the child is prone to fractures.
Glycogenesis is the general name for pathology, but there are many of its varieties, in which some additional ones are added to the standard set of signs. So, for example, with Girke’s disease, a baby has a low body weight and a strong increase in the size of the liver is observed, disproportions in the development of the body are significantly pronounced. The characteristic signs of Pompe disease are not only imbalances in the body, poor sucking reflex and appetite, but also damage to the heart, lungs and nervous systems. The hallmark of Forbes disease is a significant accumulation of adipose tissue throughout the body. With Hers’s disease, the patient cannot stand even light physical exertion.
Unfortunately, the disease is incurable. Therapy includes measures aimed at making the patient’s life easier. Usually, this is a rather impressive list of medicines designed to replace missing enzymes, improve digestion and support the functions of other organs and systems.
Glycogen and weight loss
As mentioned above, knowledge of how the body spends its energy reserves has allowed nutritionists and trainers to develop special fat burning programs for weight loss. In order for the body to start spending strategic reserves of the fat layer, it needs at least 40-45 minutes of tension with a moderate heart rate. Practice has shown that fat is most effectively burned as a result of morning cardio workouts carried out on an empty stomach or in the evening 3-4 hours after the last meal, when the blood sugar level is minimal.
Thus, answering in simple words the question of what is glycogen, we can say that it is a depot of the body’s energy resources, organized by nature in the liver and other organs.
Source : fiteria.ru