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Can You Make Glucose From Protein?

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The Catabolism Of Fats And Proteins For Energy

Before we get into anything, what does the word catabolism mean? When we went over catabolic and anabolic reactions, we said that catabolic reactions are the ones that break apart molecules. To remember what catabolic means, think of a CATastrophe where things are falling apart and breaking apart. You could also remember cats that tear apart your furniture. In order to make ATP for energy, the body breaks down mostly carbs, some fats and very small amounts of protein. Carbs are the go-to food, the favorite food that cells use to make ATP but now we’re going to see how our cells use fats and proteins for energy. What we’re going to find is that they are ALL going to be turned into sugars (acetyl) as this picture below shows. First let’s do a quick review of things you already know because it is assumed you learned cell respiration already and how glucose levels are regulated in your blood! Glucose can be stored as glycogen through a process known as glycogenesis. The hormone that promotes this process is insulin. Then when glycogen needs to be broken down, the hormone glucagon, promotes glycogenolysis (Glycogen-o-lysis) to break apart the glycogen and increase the blood sugar Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. manohman

    Why can't fat be converted into Glucose?

    So the reason cited is that beta oxidation/metabolism of fats leads to formation of acetyl coa, a 2 carbon molecule, and that because of that it cannot be converted back into glucose.
    Why exactly is that the case?
    If Glucogenic amino acids can be converted into citric acid cycle intermediates and then turn back into glucose via gluconeogensis, then why cant Fatty Acids which yield Acetyl Coa. Can't you just have Acetyl Coa enter the citric acid cycle and produce the same intermediates that the glucogenic amino acids creat?

  2. Czarcasm

    manohman said: ↑
    So the reason cited is that beta oxidation/metabolism of fats leads to formation of acetyl coa, a 2 carbon molecule, and that because of that it cannot be converted back into glucose.
    Why exactly is that the case?
    If Glucogenic amino acids can be converted into citric acid cycle intermediates and then turn back into glucose via gluconeogensis, then why cant Fatty Acids which yield Acetyl Coa. Can't you just have Acetyl Coa enter the citric acid cycle and produce the same intermediates that the glucogenic amino acids creat?
    Click to expand... Both glucose and fatty acids can be stored in the body as either glycogen for glucose (stored mainly in the liver or skeletal cells) or for FA's, as triacylglycerides (stored in adipose cells). We cannot store excess protein. It's either used to make other proteins, or flushed out of the body if in excess; that's generally the case but we try to make use of some of that energy instead of throwing it all away.
    When a person is deprived of nutrition for a period of time and glycogen stores are depleted, the body will immediately seek out alternative energy sources. Fats (stored for use) are the first priority over protein (which requires the breakdown of tissues such as muscle). We can mobilize these FA's to the liver and convert them to Acetyl-CoA to be used in the TCA cycle and generate much needed energy. On the contrary, when a person eats in excess (a fatty meal high in protein), it's more efficient to store fatty acids as TAG's over glycogen simply because glycogen is extremely hydrophilic and attracts excess water weight; fatty acids are largely stored anhydrously and so you essentially get more bang for your buck. This is evolutionary significant and why birds are able to stay light weight but fly for periods at a time, or why bears are able to hibernate for months at a time. Proteins on the other hand may be used anabolically to build up active tissues (such as when your working out those muscles), unless you live a sedentary lifestyle (less anabolism and therefore, less use of the proteins). As part of the excretion process, protein must be broken down to urea to avoid toxic ammonia and in doing so, the Liver can extract some of that usable energy for storage as glycogen.
    Also, it is worth noting that it is indeed possible to convert FA's to glucose but the pathway can be a little complex and so in terms of energy storage, is not very efficient. The process involves converting Acetyl-CoA to Acetone (transported out of mitochondria to cytosol) where it's converted to Pyruvate which can then be used in the Gluconeogenesis pathway to make Glucose and eventually stored as Glycogen. Have a look for yourself if your interested: http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002116.g003/originalimage (and this excludes the whole glycogenesis pathway, which hasn't even begun yet).
    TLDR: it's because proteins have no ability to be stored in the body, but we can convert them to glycogen for storage during the breakdown process for excretion. Also, in terms of energy, it's a more efficient process than converting FA's to glycogen for storage.

  3. soccerman93

    This is where biochem comes in handy. Czarcasm gives a really good in depth answer, but a simpler approach is to count carbons. The first step of gluconeogenesis(formation of glucose) requires pyruvate, a 3 carbon molecule. Acetyl Co-A is a 2 carbon molecule, and most animals lack the enzymes (malate synthase and isocitrate lyase) required to convert acetyl co-A into a 3 carbon molecule suitable for the gluconeogenesis pathway. The ketogenic pathway is not efficient, as czarcasm pointed out. While acetyl co-A can indeed be used to form citric acid intermediates, these intermediates will be used in forming ATP, not glucose. Fatty acid oxidation does not yield suitable amounts of pyruvate, which is required for gluconeogenesis. This is part of why losing weight is fairly difficult for those that are overweight, we can't efficiently directly convert fat to glucose, which we need a fairly constant supply of. Sorry, that got a little long-winded

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