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Chapter: Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals: Levels of Organization : Cellular Metabolism

Glycogen splitting or lysis occurs when blood glucose levels drop, in a process known as glycogenolysis­.


Glycogen splitting or lysis occurs when blood glucose levels drop, in a process known as glycogenolysis­. Glycogen is phosphorylated and cleaved to release glucose-1-phosphate. This is then converted to­ ­glucose-6-phosphate, which is able to enter the glycolytic­ pathway. Glucose-6-phosphate can then be oxidized for energy. The enzyme responsible for all this activity is glycogen phosphorylase. The glucose-6-­phosphate is then trapped in muscle cells (and most other cells) because it cannot cross cell membranes. Glucose-6-phosphatase is an enzyme in liver cells and in certain intestinal and kidney cells, which removes the terminal phosphate to produce free glucose. Because glucose can easily diffuse into the blood, the liver uses its stores of glycogen to supply blood sugar for other body organs when there is a drop in glucose levels. Glycogen from the liver is very important for skeletal muscles that have been depleted of glycogen reserves.

A person who consumes many complex car-bohydrates has more glycogen stored in the mus-cles. For sustaining intense muscle activity, this is a more effective method than consuming high- protein meals. This is not true for high sugary foods such as candy. Complex carbohydrates are required to meet increased needs of growing muscles along with extra protein. Complex carbohydrates function in this manner because they are protein sparing. The loading of complex carbohydrates before an intense workout causes the muscles to store more glycogen than usual. A carbohydrate- rich diet, which con-sists of 75% of energy intake, must be eaten for 3 to 4 days before an intense physical event, while activ-ity is decreased during this time. The muscles store approximately twice as much glycogen as normal, meaning the individual will have more endurance and better performance during his or her planned physical activity.

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