In Nutrition

Do You Notice a Difference?

I had just asked a 30-something woman whether she used protein powder. I had inventory with me that I was providing to my friends and family along with VIP clients at 30-40% off.

Her response was a question. “No, my trainer would like me to use it, but I don’t. Have you noticed a difference?”

I had to say, no.

No, I haven’t noticed a difference. At 52, my weight is within 2lbs and my body fat is within 2% of my weight and body fat at 32.  No difference.

That’s when even I realized what a vast difference it makes. Most women can easily lose 8% of lean muscle per decade. That would be me losing 7lbs of muscle give or take, per decade. In other words, had I not:

  • exercised with resistance training
  • fueled with adequate protein and total calories

My weight might still be similar (though that would be tough) but my percent fat would be much higher. Therefor the clothes currently in my closet wouldn’t fit.

There were two years when my percent body fat and weight may not have been stable. Between 49 and 51 I had a lot of major life changes. Some of them choices, and some of them things I just had to deal with, and as stress has it, your body doesn’t know the difference. You add major stressors of any kind up and no matter what else is true the rules change.

This is the kind of evidence that you don’t see nearly enough.

I began using protein first when I did my first marathon. My son was still in a baby jogger and like many active women do, the year after I delivered I felt stronger than ever. Pregnancy has a training effect, you see. So if you are also fit before pregnancy and do what you can safely do during to stay well, you often come out the other side with increased fitness. I was a lucky one who did experience that. Post run I was always careful to include protein within 30 minutes.

This was my pre-exercise fuel this morning: a whey protein shake. Easy to digest  (as long as you tolerate dairy) it’s a nice pre-exercise snack when your workout has to be delayed long enough you need some fuel before. It got me pondering “the difference.”

Those habits spilled over into triathlon training. The more I swam and biked, the more I knew I needed resistance training to keep my bones strong and to prevent muscle wasting common in endurance athletes. I was determined during years I did endurance events to measure pre training weight and body composition and compared it to post training. As I mentioned above, over 20 years I have been within 2lbs or percent of the same weight and body fat. True whether I was 10 months from completing an Ironman or I was days after.

That, to me, was excellent news and proof that I was at my optimal weight. I was fueling, I was exercising within my natural “home.” It’s easy to lose weight and get caught up in smaller sizes and thinner this or that. But it’s dangerous if you hope to stay alive and thrive for decades. It’s hard to be happy if the scale or an event or a size dress is what you reach for.

Don’t get me wrong… shifting from one size to another or getting a compliment is always lovely. Who doesn’t like that? Yet, if it is your motivation your long term health may suffer. Skinny jeans in your 30s at the cost of maintaining lean muscle can be expensive currency at 50 and beyond when it is harder to get the lean back and lose the fat that’s replaced it.


If you’re opting to use protein powder please beware that many of the name brands and items on the shelves… include these ingredients you want to AVOID:

  • fructose
  • sucralose
  • more than 5 grams of sugar per serving
  • added nutrients (which will compete with other nutrients you’re taking and decrease your overall absorption)
  • xanthem gum
  • guar gum
  • soy (soy lecithin is in most commercial brands)
  • denatured processing (high temperatures that destroy the immune-boosting benefits)
  • dairy- if you don’t tolerate it (test yourself)
  • msg
  • 10K food chemicals – if you can’t pronounce it and don’t know what it does: avoid it

I left some protein powder with loved ones last week. This week I get, “that protein powder you gave me didn’t dissolve very well in water.” Adding the powder to a bottle of water he was having trouble getting it to be “unlumpy.” It donned on me that this was a huge inconvenience. You know why? The powder he’d been using had additives and chemicals that increase the ease at which it dissolves. I suggested a better shaker or a blender would give better results, but that you can either have the convenience and cancer… or not.

Is that extreme? Yes. Moderation went out in the 80s before all the food chemicals, computer screens, radiation exposure we have today was a moment-to-moment occurrence. We all have cancer cells within us. We don’t have to feed them.

If you have a protein powder in your cupboard go check the label. If you’re unsure what you’re looking at take a screen shot and submit it in your comments or atwww.facebook.com/navigatingfitnessafter50

 


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