Glucose vs Glycogen: Difference and Comparison

Several types of sugar are present and generated within a body, such as monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides. Several types of sugars are found under these categories. Two such sugar molecules widely confused in general are glucose and glycogen.

Key Takeaways

  1. Glucose is a simple sugar that serves as the body’s primary energy source.
  2. Glycogen, on the other hand, is a complex carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscles.
  3. While glucose is readily available for immediate use, glycogen must be broken down into glucose before it can be used as energy.

Glucose vs. Glycogen

The difference between glucose and glycogen is that glucose is highly soluble in water and has osmotic properties, whereas glycogen is poorly soluble and is non-osmotic. Hence it can be used as a solution for storing glucose in cells.

Glucose vs Glycogen

Glucose is a monosaccharide. The term glucose derives from the Greek term “glykos” meaning sweet. Plants and algae produce it in the process of photosynthesis.

Further glucose can be divided into two natures: naturally obtained (D-glucose) and synthetically made (L-glucose). Glycogen is a branch of polysaccharide.


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It represents the major storage of glucose within a body. It is mainly produced and stored within the cell of life and skeletal muscles. Approximately 4 grams of glucose is present in the blood of a human being at a normal stage.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonGlucoseGlycogen
DefinitionIt is a simple sugar that is a monosaccharideIt is a major carbohydrate-storing form in animals
Chemical  formulaC6H12O6(C6H10O5)n
Type of CarbohydrateMonosaccharideBranched polysaccharide
SolubilityHighly soluble in waterPoorly soluble in water
Osmotic PropertiesOsmoticNonosmotic
Energy SourcePrimary energy sourceSecondary energy source
Present inAll living beingsAnimals and fungi
Provides EnergyRegular functions of the bodyActivities including the functions of the central nervous system
ProductionIn the chloroplast of the plantsMajorly in the liver of animals

What is Glucose?

Glucose is a type of simple sugar. It is monomeric hexose (six-carbon sugar). The molecular formula for glucose is C6H12O6. The term glucose derives from the Greek term “glykos” meaning sweet.

It is the most abundantly found monosaccharide in the category of carbohydrates. Plants and algae produce glucose; during photosynthesis, plants use water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight as a source of energy in the cell walls to produce carbohydrates.

Glucose is one of the most vital energy sources for all living beings. In plants, as starch and amylopectin, glucose for metabolism is stored as polymer, and in the blood of animals as blood sugar.

The naturally occurring form of glucose is D-glucose, whereas the synthetically formed one is L-glucose. The molecules in glucose can either occur in open-chain (acyclic) or ring form (cyclic).

Glucose is a compound that naturally forms or occurs in all living beings. In fruits or other plant parts, they occur naturally, whereas, in animals, it is released by breaking down glycogen with glycogenosis.


What is Glycogen?

Glycogen is polymeric glucose. It is a multi-branched polysaccharide of glucose that is a storage energy form in animals, fungi, and bacteria.

This polysaccharide structure represents the major storage of glucose within the body within the animals; the glycogen molecules storage is larger for extra glucose. Glycogen works as one of the two energy reserves.

Glycogen is for the short term, and the other form is triglyceride which is storedfattypose tissues for long-term storage. In humans, glycogen is mainly produced and stored within the cells of livers and skeletal muscles.

The amount of glycogen stored in one’s body depends upon the individual’s physical training, basal metabolic rate, and eating habits.

Glycogen is also found in several amounts in other tissues and cells, such as kidneys, red blood cells, white blood cells, and the brain’s glial cells. A woman’s uterus during pregnancy also stores glycogen to nourish the embryo.

Approximately 4 grams of glucose is present in the blood of a human being at a normal stage. The way glycogen is produced, every glycogen granule has its core as glycogen in protein. Glycogen is a non-osmotic molecule. Hence it can be used as a solution for storing glucose in cells.

Main Differences Between Glucose and Glycogen

  1. Glucose is a simple sugar monosaccharide, whereas glycogen is a form of storing carbohydrates, mainly within animals.
  2. The chemical formula for glucose is C6H12O6, whereas the chemical formula for glycogen is (C6H10O5)n.
  3. Glucose is a monosaccharide, whereas glycogen is a branch of polysaccharide.
  4. Glucose, as an element, is highly soluble in water. However, glycogen is poorly soluble in water.
  5. Glucose is osmotic, but on the other hand, glycogen is non-osmotic.
  6. Glucose is the primary energy source in all living beings, whereas glycogen is a secondary energy source.
  7. Glucose is present in all living beings. However, glycogen is present only in animals and fungi.
  8. Glucose promotes the regular function of the body. However, glycogen helps in activities, including the functions of the central nervous system.
  9. Glucose is produced in the chloroplast of plants, whereas glycogen is majorly produced in the liver of animals.
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