Key Points

Glucose can be used by all cells, but free glucose is available for only about 1 hour's worth of fuel needs.

Glycogen stores provide little more than half a day's fuel requirement.

Proteins can be drawn on to meet energy needs. Fat (triglyceride) is the most efficient storage form of fuel. The normal human has enough fat to meet 30-40 days worth of energy demands. Most cells can derive their energy from oxidation of glucose, fat, or amino acids, but some cells, including brain, have an absolute requirement for glucose.

• Problems inherent in the use of glucose and fat as metabolic fuels: (1) Conversion of carbohydrate to fat consumes energy, and fat is largely not reconvertable to carbohydrate and, hence, unavailable to meet the energy needs of brain and some other tissues; (2) limited water solubility of fat requires protein carriers for interorgan transport or conversion to water-soluble ketone bodies for access to brain; and

Essential Medical Physiology, Third Edition

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