Muscle Glycogen: What is it, and what is its function?
Glycogen is one of the body’s primary sources and reserves of energy. Structurally, it is a molecule made up of a chain of hundreds of glucose molecules, which is why it is classified as a carbohydrate.
Muscle glycogen is found surrounding the muscles in a liquid called sarcoplasm.
Glycogen is also known as “animal starch” since it is only found in organisms of this type. You have to know that there are different types of glycogen.
Muscle glycogen is used when doing physical exercise; when thinking or working, the brain uses the deposits of this molecule present in the liver according to the function and type of glycogen used.
This article describes the function of muscle glycogen, where it accumulates, and how to regenerate it.
Where does glycogen accumulate?
In the human body, glycogen is accumulated mainly in the liver, about 100-120 g of the total. In muscles, the total amount is approximately 1% of body weight.
However, muscle glycogen stores are more significant; they reach values of up to 400-500 g. (4) For this reason, it is considered that the primary function of muscle glycogen is as an energy reserve for the muscles.
The glycogen reserves in the liver are used to meet the energy needs for any activity. At the same time, the deposits in the muscles are used only as a function of energy before physical exercise.
For example, when doing barbell squats, the body will first use the muscle glycogen in the legs.
Muscle glycogen: How is it regenerated?
During the digestion process, carbohydrate foods break down to glucose. This molecule then goes through different compartments until it finally forms muscle glycogen.
Muscle glycogen serves as a reserve function to be used during physical activity. (3) The increase in the total amount is achieved after combining a hypertrophy routine and a diet to increase muscle mass.
Muscle glycogen is not found in muscle fibers. But in the sarcoplasm, the fluid surrounds the muscles. The increase in muscle volume occurs when the reserves of this molecule also do so.
Regular physical training increases the volume of muscle glycogen stores and sarcoplasm. This makes the muscles look more prominent and bulkier. Remember that the number of muscle fibers, like the physical build, is partially predetermined by muscle genetics.
Glycogen and muscle growth
To achieve muscle growth, the body must meet three requirements:
- A sufficient amount of muscle glycogen to train.
- An adequate amount of protein.
- Active physical training.
In addition, some hormones, such as testosterone and growth hormone, play a fundamental role.
When the goal is muscle growth, including adequate carbohydrate foods is essential. If possible, high-quality complex carbohydrates should be weighted. Cereals and pseudo-cereals such as amaranth or buckwheat are excellent options for providing this energy source.
Muscle glycogen and fat burning
When the goal is to burn fat, remember that the body depletes muscle glycogen stores first. Only after deleting these reserves does it turn to fat deposits. It is precise because coaches often recommend doing aerobic exercises at the end of a weight routine.
The intermittent fasting method is best known to play with this concept. After long hours of fasting, glucose levels in the body are minimal, forcing the body to use fat reserves as a source of energy. High-performance athletes use this strategy to achieve fat burning.
- The primary function of glycogen is as a source and reserve of energy.
- The body can regenerate glycogen through the consumption of carbohydrates.
- Muscle glycogen is what surrounds the muscles. This is concentrated in the fluid called sarcoplasm.
- The average adult body stores about 200-300 g of this molecule daily.
- Muscle glycogen is used during strength training and has the primary function of providing an energy boost when moving quickly.