Lesson 2: Body Building Foods

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If you have found Unit 2 exciting then get prepared for unit 3 because it is even more interesting than Unit 2.

Do you know why you increase in height? Do you ever wonder why your hair or your finger nails grow back after you have cut them or how your wounds heal? Substances from the food we eat are responsible for growth and repair of our bodies. This unit would expose you to these substances and to how you can handle your food so that you would obtain maximum benefit from eating it.

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After you have studied this unit you would be able to:
  • choose foods which contain body building materials
  • cook body building foods properly
  • identify foods which contain good quality proteins
  • combine foods to provide complete protein
  • identify protein deficiency symptoms

Animal Foods,Image courtesy Flickr.com

Lesson Content


Proteins can be described as the building blocks that help the body to grow. Proteins are the only nutrients that contain nitrogen in addition to carbon,hydrogen and oxygen.The proteins that our bodies need are made up of many small units called amino acids. There are two groups of amino acids.Those that our bodies can make are called non essential amino acids.There are however some amino acids that the body can not make and must be provided by our diets.They are called essential amino acids.

Soy-rice milk,courtesy wikimedia.org

Classification of protein acids

There are two main groups of proteins based on their essential amino acid content.Proteins that contain all the essential amino acids are called =complete proteins=.Proteins that lack one or more of the essential amino acids are called =incomplete proteins.= Animal foods provide proteins that are rich in essential amino acids whiles plant proteins lack one or more essential amino acids.

Animal Protein rich in essential amino acids,image provided courtesy Flickr.com

Function of proteins

Proteins are the only nutrient responsible for promoting growth and repair of worm out tissues. In addition they perform other function in the body. For example they can be used to provide energy for the body. This is however a very expensive way of providing energy for the body because protein foods are usually very expensive.

Condition under which proteins can be used for energy

When the amount of protein supplied by the food you eat is more than what your body needs, the excess would be used to provide energy. For example when you eat two or more eggs for breakfast or when you eat a lot of meat or fish in one meal. When the amount of carbohydrates provided in a meal does not provide the energy requirements of your body. During starvation when little food is eating the energy needs of the individual are not met so the little protein available from the food would be used to provide energy. When the protein foods eaten do not contain complete protein. They cannot be used for body building.

Deficiency of protein

Deficiency of proteins leads to poor growth and development in children. In adults it can lead to poor maintenance of body tissues. The disease known as kwashiorkor is the result of prolonged lack of protein in childrens diet.

Implications for catering

In catering various categories of people are considered. The provided by the caterer must contain enough of all the nutrients because for some people most of their day’s meals are eaten outside the home. Proteins foods would coagulate and shrink. Sometimes they loose some of their nutrients when high heat is applied to them. Overcooking makes protein foods like cheese indigestible and tough. Eggs become dry and the yolk may crumble. When over fried they become rubbery. Care must therefore be taken when cooking protein foods. Too much cooking would make the dry and unappetizing animal protein foods are very expensive and not may people can afford enough of it. A caterer can use a lot of the less expensive plant protein foods so as to serve foods which contain all the essential amino acids. A variety of plant protein foods should be used.

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Proteins are the substances from the food use eat which provide us with the building blocks for growth and repair of body tissues.The main groups of proteins are complete and incomplete proteins animals foods provide mostly complete proteins which are good for body building.When too much protein foods are eaten in a meal, the protein provided is in excess and would be used to provide energy.When too little growth in children it leads to poor growth in children.A condition known as kwashiorkor results.Caterers should not overlook protein foods because they become leathery, dry, unattractive and indigestible.
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  1. The substance in food which is responsible for body building is called……………
  2. State 2 animal protein foods and 2 plant protein foods
  3. What is a complete protein?
  4. Under what conditions would proteins be used to provide energy for the body
  5. Why should protein foods not be overcooked?

Colani 15:50, 26 February 2007 (CET)