Figuring Out Your Protein Powder Options For Optimal Muscle After 50

Maintaining Muscles As You Age Is a Big Part of Maintaining Tone and Fighting Off Fat

Getting enough high-quality protein – and getting while you’re muscles are most in need of it – is important to an after 50 babe who wants to keep the best bod and active life as possible.

Getting the majority of your protein needs met from whole foods, ideally a mixture of animal and plant sources. But you have to eat a lot of chicken and salmon, or huge amounts of beans, rice, and quinoa to include plant only proteins. Protein supplements are convenient and economical and many taste good as well. (You do have to watch for sugars and artificial sweeteners. Limit to 2-3 grams of sugar per serving if possible and use of stevia if there’s an artificial sweetener used).


There are a lot of terms to consider on the protein supplement shelves these days. The labels of the products can be confusing. There is a difference in the quality of the products however. You need to know a couple key terms to get you started in the right direction. If you’re choosing protein from plant-based products there are a couple keys to making that an optimal choice too, and you’ll find those toward the bottom.

Whey or Casein Concentrate: This is the cheapest form of protein supplement. It’s only about 80% protein so it has more fat and carbs as “fillers.” It is harder to mix and doesn’t dissolve as well as higher-quality options, but it still offers muscle-building benefits.

Isolate: This is more processed – removing the fat and carbs – with 90-95% protein and it dissolves much better.

Hydrosylate or Hydrolyzed protein: This option has been broken down into smaller, more easily absorbed parts and gets into muscles faster.

Micellar casein or isolated casein: This expensive option is easy-to-mix and is almost pure casein – the slower-acting protein that is most beneficial as a protein used at bedtime or as a meal replacement (not recommended if whole food is readily available).

Milk protein: 80% casein and 20% whey.

Egg white protein: An excellent high-quality protein, often higher in price compared to others. May say “instantized egg albumin” on the label.

“Proprietary Blend”: Buyer-beware – companies don’t have to disclose what mixture of whey, casein, and “other” ingredients they use.

fat and thin woman measures the bellies

Plant Proteins:

Soy: High quality protein with all the amino acids needed for muscle growth. If you’re worried about including soy due to effect on estrogen, know that most of the soy isoflavones causing the interaction with human hormones have been removed from soy isolate.

Hemp: It has all the essential amino acids but is low in leucine – the most important aa for protein synthesis. In other words, if you’re taking the protein to reach amounts necessary to keep muscles this particular protein source doesn’t give you the boost you want. It does have great fiber and healthy fat.

Brown rice: Also low in leucine, but does have other great benefits.

Yellow pea: May be helpful in reducing appetite, but again is low in leucine.

Plant-based protein blend: These products mix different plant sources of protein to provide a protein with the right dose of leucine.

Know this – plant-based proteins generally have a more grainy or chalky texture and none to date have a great taste by themselves. You’ll want to add to a smoothie with fruit or vegetables that help it become more palatable.

The essential amino acid Leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and leucine in particular – are more important than the other 17 (20 total) amino acids in assisting protein synthesis, muscle growth and repair. Two-to-three grams of leucine maximizes protein synthesis. So a meal of eggs, fish, meat, or a smoothie made with carefully selected protein powder can do that.

Here’s an idea for comparison on how many grams of each of the following proteins you need to get 2.5 grams leucine. (MensHealth)


Whey 23
Egg 29
Soy 31
Rice 32
Pea 39
Hemp 100

It’s easy to see why Whey protein is the most popular type of protein. It’s convenient, gives you exactly what you want to boost results in each serving.

Now, to tackle the concern and articles floating around that may make you wonder if your whey protein – it is dairy- can make you fat. If you follow above the highest quality guidelines, you should be OK. Try a small container before walking out with one that will last months. And if you’ve been using whey and can’t lose weight despite checking all the other factors that it could be, remove it from your diet for at least one week and up to three. See what happens and how you feel. Reintroduce it and see if there’s a difference in how you feel.

If whey is part of preventing weight loss you should see some difference from elimination and reintroduction.


P.S. Are you using a protein powder? Did anything here send you to your protein powder label to check on ingredients and leucine content?

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