Today’s contribution is from Good Measure Meals’ Registered Dietician, Rachel Baer, RD, LD. The media has done a wonderful job at displaying the role of protein in muscle building, but to a level that frequently elevates it over other important muscle building nutrients. It takes more than just amino acids to make muscles stronger. True muscle building and body strengthening meals should include: 1. CarbohydratesCarbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. They provide quick energy necessaryfor muscle contraction and spare the protein in your muscles from being broken down for energy. Yikes! Prevent muscle breakdown by including a variety of rich sources of carbohydrates in your meals to replace glycogen (stored carbohydrate) depleted during activity. Building glycogen stores will ensure your body has energy to build and repair after an excellent workout. Carbs should account for 50-55% of your daily calories.Focus on whole grains, low fat dairy, and a variety colorful fruits and vegetables. 2. FatHealthy fats play a significant role in protecting and insulating your organs and tissues, as well as storing fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, & K. 30% or less of your daily calories should come from fat, and only 10% or less from saturated fats. Focus on heart healthy oils, fish, nuts/seeds, avocado for excellent sources of energy rich, protecting fats. 3. ProteinLast but not least, protein. Depending on your training (see FitTrip Guidebook to calculate your needs), protein may account for 10-30% of your daily calories. More is not necessarily better, and unnecessarily high levels may sacrifice other important nutrients found in the carb and fat categories. Lean sources of animal protein, including meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs give your body all of the essential amino acids to do its build/repair work, but don’t let that stop you from mixing up the proteins! Plant sources of protein carry benefits of their own like fiber and excellent complex carbohydrates. Vary your sources (i.e. beans + rice, or nut butter + whole grain bread) to be sure you get all your essential amino acids.