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Sugar: Metabolism of Glucose and Fructose

Updated: Nov 6

Hi! Today's topic is to learn about the difference between how glucose is metabolized in our body and how fructose "artificially added" acts on our metabolism and body. Subscribe at the top to get notified of new posts.

All these topics and more you learn when you become an IIN Health Coach. Find the link at the end of this post.

Glucose: The body’s primary source of energy. The body breaks down carbohydrates to glucose and uses the product for energy. Glucose can also be created from protein or fat by the liver and kidneys.

Fructose: Naturally occurs in many plants. Fructose is found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables, and it can also be consumed in the form of honey, molasses, and maple syrup. In more processed forms, it can be consumed as agave nectar and crystalline fructose. When fructose is combined with glucose, it forms sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.

Glucose and Fructose have identical molecular formulas but have distinct molecular structures. This forces the body to metabolize and use their energy in very different ways.

(Galactose is another simple sugar found in dairy products)

How is Glucose metabolized?

-Triggers release of leptin and insulin, hormones that signal the brain that you’re full.

- 80% is utilized by cells and only 20% is stored as glycogen for later use.

- 80% is absorbed by the intestines and 20% is processed by the liver.

How is Fructose metabolized?

- It does not trigger the release of leptin or insulin, key hormones that control appetite and satiation.

- Converted into glycerol, the main component of triglycerides, promoting fat formation.

- 100% is metabolized and processed by the liver, increasing toxic load.

Types of sugar:

- Monosaccharides are simple sugars and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, and galactose.

- Disaccharides are also simple sugars and occur as a result of two monosaccharides combining. They include sucrose, lactose, and maltose.

- Polysaccharides are commonly known as complex carbohydrates (complex sugars). They are a combination of several monosaccharides and include starch and glycogen.

• Sucrose:(tablesugar,granulatedcane,orbeetsugar): 50% Fructose + 50% Glucose

• High fructose corn syrup: 55% Fructose + 45% Glucose

When fructose is consumed moderately in the form of fruits and vegetables, most people can break it down easily. A modest amount of fresh fruit and sugar-rich vegetables as part of a balanced diet isn’t the problem – it’s the added sugars that we need to watch.

These include any sugars or sweeteners added to your foods and beverages during processing or preparation.3 Many sweeteners are chemically altered to contain concentrated amounts of fructose, and despite heavy processing are marketed as “natural.”

Increasing global sugar consumption paired with a trend of excess overall caloric intake is a recipe for obesity and chronic disease.

Stevia- comes from a plant. It does not contain sugar.

*Tip outside the U.S.A.: In other countries you need to check that stevia is not combined with other sugars.

I hope this clarifies how sugar is metabolized. This is a very complex topic. It's not about not eating fruits and vegetables but the chemical composition and added sugar in processed foods that is affecting our hormones and metabolism.

Have a great day!

Find more info. here:

Metabolic Effects of Fructose and the Worldwide Increase in Obesity.

Tappy, L., & Lê, K. (2010). Metabolic Effects of Fructose and the Worldwide Increase in Obesity. American Physiological Society, 90(1), 23-46. doi:10.1152/ physrev.00019.2009

Retrieved from

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