What are the steps of glucose metabolism?

Would you be surprised to hear that over 35 million people in the United States live with diabetes? That's a pretty high number, especially since about 90% of these patients have type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes develops over time, primarily due to dietary and lifestyle choices. One thing that results from diabetes is that the body stops managing glucose metabolism properly. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes develop in different ways, although both are related to the body's reaction to insulin.

It all comes back to the metabolism which, if you know how it works, can help you prevent and manage diabetes. Keep reading to learn more about glucose metabolism.

What is glucose metabolism?

Glucose metabolism (cellular respiration) is the process by which your cells receive nourishment. It all starts with your body breaking down the most common form of nutrition: carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are broken down into three separate simple sugars. These sugars are called fructose, galactose and glucose. The sugar produced ultimately depends on the type of carbs your body has broken down.

Glucose is formed by the combination of galactose and fructose. Then the glucose goes into a long three-step process to pull nutrients into the cells.

The three stages of glucose metabolism

In this section, we will briefly cover the three stages of glucose metabolism. Each step is much more in-depth than shown here and is a major point of study for many biology and medical students around the world.


Glucose enters the cytosol of the cell, otherwise known as cellular fluid. Then the glucose is converted to pyruvate in a set of ten reactions. An enzyme catalyzes each reaction, yielding ATP (energy).

Phosphofructokinase (PFK) is the most important enzyme and it catalyzes the third reaction. In this reaction, glucose is completely broken down into pyruvate. PFK is also the regulatory enzyme that controls the speed of the process.

The Krebs Cycle

Pyruvate is transferred to mitochondria from cell fluid, where energy is extracted from molecules. Energy is extracted by converting pyruvate to acetyl-CoA (along with other reactions) to produce FADH2 and NADH. They are high energy electrons sent to the electron transport chain.

Oxidative phosphorylation

FADH2 and NADH are converted to ATP until they reach the last chain where they are accepted by oxygen. The protons (developed from energy extraction) are then pumped out of the mitochondria to produce electrical energy!

How Glucose Metabolism Works for Your Body

We have previously discussed the process of glucose metabolism at the complex molecular level. But how does it work from a more gestalt point of view?

The broken down glucose is converted into sugars as mentioned and then flows to your blood cells. Once the necessary amount is absorbed, the pancreas receives a signal to produce insulin, where it lands on the insulin receptors on the cells.

The cell then receives a signal which is translated and sent to the DNA. Finally, the proteins arrive at the cell membrane, which allows glucose to enter it.

Problems associated with poor glucose metabolism

There are a handful of issues that can arise if your body doesn't handle glucose breakdown properly. These include:

  • A diseased or damaged pancreas
  • Cell death
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Blood sugar control problems
  • Decreased resting metabolic rate (RMR)

These issues can occur with a handful of others. Speak to your doctor if you feel like you are having trouble with your blood sugar, as this could be a sign of a life-threatening condition.

Additionally, you can use a stenabolic to improve your body's lipid and glucose metabolism. Consult your physician or physician for personalized medical advice.

Further information

There is so much more that goes into glucose metabolism. You can find out more by studying it for yourself and talking to a doctor or doctor you trust. Knowing more can help you prevent the development of a disease such as type 2 diabetes.

For more help or medical news, please visit the health section of our blog.