Metabolic reprogramming, such as abnormal utilization of glucose, addiction to glutamine, and increased de-novo lipid synthesis, extensively occurs in proliferating cancer cells, but the underneath rationale has remained to be elucidated. Based on the concept of the degree of reduction of a compound, we have recently proposed a calculation termed as potential of electron transfer (PET), which is used to characterize the degree of electron redistribution coupled with metabolic transformations. When this calculation is combined with the assumed model of electron balance in a cellular context, the enforced selective reprogramming could be predicted by examining the net changes of the PET values associated with the biochemical pathways in anaerobic metabolism. Some interesting properties of PET in cancer cells were also discussed, and the model was extended to uncover the chemical nature underlying aerobic glycolysis that essentially results from energy requirement and electron balance. Enabling electron transfer could drive metabolic reprogramming in cancer metabolism. Therefore, the concept and model established on electron transfer could guide the treatment strategies of tumors and future studies on cellular metabolism.