What is glycogen?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Glycogen refers to the state that carbohydrates take when they are in storage within your body. When you consume carbohydrates, your body will use the amount that it needs. Your body will store the surplus carbohydrates in your muscles and liver. The carbohydrates in storage are called glycogen and are often used by the muscles during exercise. The amount of glycogen stored in your muscles is enough to provide energy for an entire day.

Glycogen is the body's stored form of glucose. Glycogen is broken down by lysosomes—tiny recycling machines inside the cells that have enzymes in them. Acid alpha-glucosidase, also known as GAA, breaks down the glycogen and recycles it, turning it into energy the body can use between meals or when exercising. If glycogen builds up in the body it can cause problems. The extra glycogen stored in the cells damages muscles the most.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.