A piece of ham is broken down into amino acids. Is this an anabolic or catabolic process?

Expert Answers
justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Catabolism refers to the breaking down of relatively complex biological structures into smaller and simpler units. Catabolic processes usually release energy as the final stage after the simpler biological units have been formed is their use as fuel for respiration that involve a reaction with oxygen that gives off energy.

Ham is a portion of an animal created from the combination of simple molecules of protein eaten by it. The creation of the meat requires energy which is locked up in the new bonds that are created when the new tissue is formed. When ham is broken down into amino acids in our body during digestion energy is released. The digestion of protein releases approximately 4 kcal/g. The process which involves the protein in ham breaking down into amino acids is a catabolic process.

janelle-m9 | Student

This would be catabolic.  Catabolic is when complex molecules are broken down into smaller molecules, like fatty acids and nucleotides  Anabolic is when smaller units combine to form more complex moles, such as during the process of building muscle.  Now, we know that ham is protein and that the body metabolizes (or breaks down) protein into amino acids.  Because a more complex molecule is breaking down into smaller units, this is a catabolic process.