Carbohydrate storage in man: speculations and some quantitative considerations

Metabolism. 1978 Dec;27(12 Suppl 2):1853-65. doi: 10.1016/s0026-0495(78)80004-3.


Recent information indicates that the capacity of man to store carbohydrate energy by transformation into fatty acids synthetized de novo is very limited in adipose tissue as well as in liver and intestine. This seems to be in contrast to other species such as the rat where de novo fatty acid synthesis can be induced to a high capacity of glucose removal. This leaves man with a limited capacity to store excess carbohydrate. The remaining possibilities are both the main glycogen stores in liver and in muscle. The latter is by far the largest. The capacity of muscle to assimilate glucose is dependent on its glycogen content that in turn is dependent on previous glycogen depletion to supply energy for muscle contraction. Man might, thus, be uniquely limited in the capacity to dispose of extra carbohydrate in the sedentary state. This might speculatively be thought to be an explanation for a carbohydrate excess syndrome in the sedentary state that may well increase the risk for obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and diabetes mellitus. The logical treatment for such a syndrome then is either a decreased intake of energy as carbohydrate or an increased disposal of carbohydrate energy by exercise. Exercise has, indeed, been shown to have such effects both after physical training programs and, perhaps more pertinent to the question, during a few days after a single exercise bout that has consumed a large amount of muscle glycogen.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / biosynthesis
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glycerol / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Lipids / biosynthesis
  • Triglycerides / biosynthesis


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Glucose
  • Glycerol