The products of glycolysis are two molecules of pyruvate, two molecules of NADH, and a net of two molecules of adenosine triphosphate, hydrogen ions and water. Glycolysis is one of the most fundamental processes used by living organisms to break down sugar to produce energy stored in its chemical bonds.
The glycolysis process starts with glucose, a six-carbon sugar, two phosphorus atoms and two molecules each of adenosine diphospahate nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide ions. The six carbons split during glycolysis with each half forming a three-carbon pyruvate molecule. Pyruvate is further broken down through aerobic respiration, releasing nine times more energy than glycolysis. Anaerobically, pyruvate is converted by animals and bacteria into lactic acid. Plants and fungi, on the other hand, transform pyruvate into alcohol.
ATP is composed of an adenine nucleotide, a ribose sugar and three phosphate groups, and it functions as the energy currency of the cell. During step six of glycolysis, two hydrogen atoms and two protons, or hydrogen ions, are extracted from the sugar. The second-to-last step of glycolysis involves loss of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, forming a water molecule, from each half of the split glucose molecule. This water is absorbed into the cytoplasm of the cell. Pumps in the cell membrane maintain the balance between the water from the cell’s environment and the water produced during cellular respiration.