Glycogen vs Starch: Difference and Comparison

Glycogen and Starch are two glucose polymers found in living cells. Glucose is produced by photosynthesis in plants and is the simplest form of sugar.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate found primarily in animals, serving as a storage form of glucose in the liver and muscles to provide energy during increased demand.
  2. Starch is a complex carbohydrate found in plants, acting as an energy storage molecule and a primary source of dietary carbohydrates for humans and other animals.
  3. Both glycogen and starch serve as energy storage molecules but differ in their biological sources, structure, and the organisms that utilize them for energy.

Glycogen vs Starch

Glycogen is a form of glucose and a storage form of energy in animals stored primarily in liver and muscles. It is a branched polymer composed of glucose units. Starch is a white, granular, organic chemical that is a storage form of energy in green plants and contains two polymers composed of glucose units.

Glycogen vs Starch 1

Glycogen is the essential storage component and the energy producer for animals and fungi. The monomer unit during the formation of glycogen is alpha glucose.

Starch is a vital component of energy production in plants. The plants’ glucose is converted to insoluble storage substances like starch and fats.


Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonGlycogenStarch
DefinitionGlycogen is the polymeric carbohydrate of glucose that is a significant component for animals and fungi.Starch is the complex sugar of glucose that is the primary storage carbohydrate for plants.
Monomer chainsGlycogen is the polymer where the monomer units form the short branched chains. It comprises the monomer unit known as alpha glucose held by glycosidic bonds.Starch comprises two different polymers- amylose and amylopectin where the former forms the linear and coiled chains and the latter forms the branched chains.
Molecular Formula C24H42O21 is the molecular formula for glycogen.(C6H10O5)n is the molecular formula for starch.
Occurs inGlycogen occurs in the form of small granules.Starch occurs in the form of grains.
FunctionIt serves as the energy-storing carbohydrate in animals.It serves as the energy-storing carbohydrate in plants.


What is Glycogen?

Glycogen is an energy-storage carbohydrate found only in animals and plants. It is the polymer of the simple sugar called alpha glucose.

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It is also known as animal starch and is found in liver cells, muscle cells, and the stomach. It stores glucose to provide the body with the same when it is energy deficient.

When the body requires energy, glycogen is instantly broken down into glucose to provide the body energy that it needs. This process is known as glycogenolysis.

Some essential facts about glycogen are:

  1. It is an energy-storage carbohydrate, especially for animals and fungi.
  2. In humans, glycogen is stored as body fat in the adipose tissues to provide energy when needed.
  3. Access to blood sugar glucose is also stored as glycogen with the action of the pancreas to prevent diabetes mellitus.
  4. The storage of glycogen by the muscle cells helps to keep the body ready for strenuous exercises and actions when required.

What is Starch?

Starch is the essential energy storage component in plants. It is a polymer of extreme importance to plants in energy storage and production.

Starch is further formed by combining two molecules: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose has monomer units attached in the linear and the helical structure, whereas Amylopectin includes branched chains.

Starch occurs in the granules called amyloplasts in the plant cells. In plants, starch is further converted to form cellulose that helps in energy production, growth, and repair of the cells.

Some critical aspects of starch are as follows:

  1. Starch is the polysaccharide carbohydrate formed by the monomer called alpha glucose.
  2. It is made up of the 2 molecules amylose and amylopectin.
  3. Starch is used for various commercial purposes, such as manufacturing paper and the textile industry.

Main Differences Between Glycogen and Starch

  1. Glycogen is the energy-storage carbohydrate found mainly in animals and fungi, whereas Starch is the energy-storage carbohydrate found predominantly in plants.
  2. Glycogen is made up of a single molecule, whereas starch is made up of two molecules, namely amylose and amylopectin.
  3. Glycogen forms the branched-chain structure, whereas Starch forms linear, spiral, and branch structures.
  4. Starch is used for commercial purposes, such as paper and textile industry, whereas glycogen is not used commercially.
  5. Glycogen is stored in liver and muscle cells, whereas starch is stored in the amyloplasts of plant cells.
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Glycogen vs Starch: Difference and Comparison”

  1. These concepts are very interesting, and the article explained them very well. I didn’t know much about the topic before reading.


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