If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Food and energy in organisms

Review your understanding of food and energy in organisms in this free article aligned to NGSS standards.

Key points:

  • All living things need food. Plants make their own food through photosynthesis. Animals get food by eating other living things.
  • Some important food molecules are fats, proteins, and sugars. These all contain carbon atoms.
  • In animals, large food molecules are broken down into smaller molecules during digestion. These smaller molecules eventually make it inside cells. Here, chemical reactions rearrange the molecules’ atoms, forming new molecules.
  • Many of these new molecules can become part of an organism's cells and tissues. This helps the organism grow bigger and stay healthy.
  • Other molecules from food are used for energy. This occurs through the process of cellular respiration.
An image shows different types of food including an orange slice, an almond, and an avocado. A callout shows that the orange slice contains sugar molecules. Another callout shows that the almond contains protein molecules. A third callout shows that the avocado contains fat molecules.
Organisms get the molecules they need from food. Image created with Biorender.com.

Want to join the conversation?