Differences between glycogen and starch

Every single day you wake up and head to work you need energy. If you don’t have enough energy, then the body will definitely get weak and major body organs may fail. Without energy, you definitely won’t be able to move or even do the most basic tasks such as bathing, cooking and thinking. For our bodies to get consistent flow of energy for the specific needs, we have to maintain a substantial intake of sugars on daily basis. Sugar or better known as glucose can be obtained from starch which we can all get from animal and plant products. After you get this starch, the body will now embark on a move to process it into carbohydrates which contains oxygen, hydrogen and carbon molecules. These carbohydrates are then stored in the body cells where they serve as constant sources of energy required for our daily activities. Although we get such explanations daily from teachers, bloggers and doctors, very few people can clearly differentiate between Glycogen and starch. For that reason, we have thought of sharing top 10 main differences between the two terms. This is to make you better understand how the two are used by the body cells to produce energy on daily basis.

So What is the Differences between glycogen and starch?

1. Meaning-

The first method of differentiating the two sources of energy is their definitions. Starch is a homopolysaccharide that serves as a carbohydrate reserve for plants. On the other hand, glycogen is also a homopolysaccharide that serves as a carbohydrate reserve in animals.

2. Storage-The two sources of energy are stored differently.

As a matter of fact, starch is stored in plants as food reserve. In plants, they are available in two forms which are the Amylose and Amylopectin. On the other hand, Glycogen is stored in the liver of animals including human beings. Depending on your energy needs, this glycogen is released by the enzymes.

3. Where they are found-

The two sources of energy are found in different places. Starch is found in plants while glycogen is found in animals and the plants. However, glycogen is not found in all plants. Verily, it’s found in plants that don’t contain chlorophyll. One example of such plants is fungi.

4. Glucose unit linkage

Glycogen contains glucose residue as α(1 4) just like starch. The only difference is that Glycogen also contains it as α(1 6) at the branching points.

5. Type of chain

The starch are coiled and unbranched. They can also be long and branched which is not the case with Glycogen. Glycogen are short and branched.

6. Water solubility

Starch is water soluble but only on the coiled and unbranched type of chain (amylose).The amylopectin or long and branched type of starch is not water soluble. On the other hand, Glycogen is soluble in small extents simply because they are highly branched.

7. Mass

Glycogen is bigger in mass when compared to starch. The main reason is because glycogen is highly chained when compared h2h with starch. Given the fact that Glycogen is highly branched, it adds some mass when the molecules connects. This indicates that starch is a shorter polysaccharide which is the reason it has low mass.

8. Purpose

the two energy sources are stored for different purposes. Glycogen is stored in the animal body to serve as a constant source of glucose in the blood. This is what increases energy production if need arise. The process of releasing glycogen from the liver is facilitated by the insulin that is in the animal body. When the insulin levels in the blood increases, it means the blood sugar levels are low which induced release of glycogen.

9. Shape-

The two, starch and Glycogen are shaped differently. The starch granules unlike those of glycogen are spherical in shape. When you focus on their molecular shape, you will realize that they usually form hexagon shapes. On the other side, Glycogen which is found in the liver of most animals is irregular in shape.This is actually what makes it easy for someone to differentiate between the two using their structural shapes.

10. Production-

For glycogen to be produced, glucose should be somewhere in the picture. It is produced when the glucose is converted into glycogen when the insulin levels come up. When the insulin levels are high, it’s an indication that the glucose levels in the blood are very high. On the side of starch, it is produced during the process of photosynthesis. This is the process where plants use light, water and carbon dioxide to make their foods. Glycogen unlike starch is produced when the glucose is being converted in the human tissue.

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