In addition to adenonsine triphosphate, or ATP, the process of glycolysis produces two molecules of pyruvic acid. These molecules form as the original six-carbon structure of glucose is broken down into two molecules of three carbons each.
Glycolysis is part of the a process known as cellular respiration through which the cells of the body break down sugar in the form of glucose in order to create energy. Essentially a process of oxidation, glyolysis takes the more complex, six-carbon glucose molecule and breaks it down into a simpler three-carbon structure through the use of glycolytic enzymes and NAD+
The byproducts of glycolysis are ATP and pyruvic acid, also known as pyruvate. These end products then carry out additional energy-related functions within the cellular respiration cycle. ATP, for example, is a direct source of energy for some cells. However, the amount of ATP generated through glycolysis is minimal compared to other methods, including aerobic respiration. Pyruvic acid is by far the more important byproduct because it moves on to play a role in the aerobic and anaerobic respiration processes, both of which produce additional ATP.
During aerobic respiration, pyruvic acid provides the energy cells need during the citric acid cycle, also known as the Krebs cycle. In anaerobic respiration, pyruvic acid ferments producing lactic acid or lactate.