6 Protein Powder Questions Answered for Women Over 50

Do you have protein powder questions? In a recent Flipping 50 Master Class (are you getting the announcements about these?) I discussed protein needs or women over 50. It was a packed class and it seems many women over 50 are just realizing the benefit and need for protein in order to sustain optimal health.

I invited my friend and fellow health coach, Heather Morgan, host of Body Talk Radio, to join me on the Flipping 50 Master Class (get those announcements and invites here) to share her nutritional expertise and co-collaborate as we both presented and addressed questions.

protein powder questions

I Had My Own List of Protein Powder Questions

I was slow to adopt protein- at least as a product I felt good about selling. Although I’ve been having a smoothie a day, and in some cases two, for over 25 years, I swore I’d never carry it myself. I’ve written about why I didn’t want to elsewhere so what’s important is why I do. That is also a disclaimer here.

I fully recognize that my telling you about the toxins/chemicals and fillers used to make protein powders and the telling you mine doesn’t contain them sets you up to question my motive. That’s like the dairy council sponsoring a study on the benefits of dairy. Even I see that and all I can tell you is this: I was sharing this information about the toxins in protein powders and the source of the protein being a detriment to women’s health before I started to carry it. It’s because I began recommending the one or two that I found “clean” myself that my clients couldn’t find, that I finally began carrying it.

If You Only Got Half the Information

Women I was working with would tell me yes, they were using protein powder but then shared what was in it. They’d share screen shots that included sugar (by other names), chemicals, preservatives, and even added vitamins they thought was a good thing that made me realize they did not know what they did not know.

I do realize that if you’ve recently read Forks Over Knives, The China Study, begun to follow Dr. Joel Furhman, or you believe plant-based is best for you, you may wonder about protein. I understand why you might think that. I too have gone down that plant-based path for a solid year as I began Flipping 50 9-10 years ago. I was vegan for nearly 3 months before I decided, no. I had begun to visibly lose muscle and strength and stamina.

There’s also a strong correlation between my female clients who were on a plant-based diet with lack of muscle tone, inability to lose weight and belly fat, and bloating. Many more develop what I believe is SIBO. A high level of carbohydrates (even the good ones) that are a must on a plant-based diet to meet protein needs feed bad bacteria that cause bloat. (more on that later).

Protein Needs Increase with Age

None of us can disregard the volumes of research on increasing need for protein as we age. Dr. Valter Longo and the Fasting Mimicking Diet, many of my expert friends who treat patients and or serve clients with special conditions including cancer, MS, and the “untreatable” hard cases all agree animal protein is a part of their protocol. Most plant and animal diet advocates agree on this point, as do doctors who specialize in women’s midlife health.

Without building blocks for muscle, bone, and immune strength there can’t be health. With an abundance of carbohydrates, even healthy carbs that are the staples of a plant-based diet, many midlife (or younger) women develop gut issues that disrupt the ability to absorb nutrients. Whether they also suffer from gas, bloating, GERD, or diarrhea or constipation or not, not absorbing nutrients will cause other problems eventually.

When Protein Powder Works Best

Protein powder is a convenient alternative and most effective when you’re already eating a healthy diet (for your needs) and exercising regularly. For many women I begin coaching it’s a first step to eating better. If you’ve gotten by without “having to” eat health in the past but now you’re hormones and body are changing, or you’re retiring and you’re exhausted, we may end up working together. A protein smoothie is a one-stop shop packed with micro and macronutrients your body needs to thrive.

I want to distinguish between “meal replacements” and a smoothie. Stirring powder into water or other liquid in my opinion isn’t a reasonable meal. Is it an occasional better-than-nothing option? Yes. I prefer that every meal include ingredients that were recently alive and come from as few processed foods as possible. And yes, no disagreement, protein powder was processed in a plant.

Making easy for you to do the right thing, stay full, and support your muscles deliciously. Ends end of day April 15. Save 15% on any protein + fiber combination at flipping 50.

Your Protein Powder Questions Answered (no particular order)

Q: What Kind of Protein Powder?

Warning: if you go into your local vitamin shop you’ll stare at shelves full of protein powder options. You’ll find common sources of protein that are dairy (whey and casein), soy, egg, pea, and brown rice. There are others less common, both plant and animal-based, that your body may require if you are extremely food sensitive.

Hemp hearts and pumpkin for instance are good sources of protein. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts adds 10 grams of protein to a shake. Pumpkin is often well-tolerated by women who don’t tolerate other types of protein.

Q: What if I’m Sensitive to Soy, Eggs, or Dairy?

You’re in good company. These are common food sensitivities. So while these sources of protein are abundant on shelves and egg is an amazing source if you can tolerate it, for most midlife women these foods all have some undesired effect if consumed regularly.

Remember too that when you consume a smoothie it is partially broken down so it’s easier to digest. The ability to digest it faster might reveal an issue with a lack of the stomach acid needed to properly digest. That may be a blessing in disguise.

Q: What If I Get Gassy or Bloated After My Smoothie?

First, check the type of protein. Whey, casein, egg, and soy are most likely to cause issues. Read all the way through the ingredients list. It could also be a form of sweetener (sugar or artificial) used isn’t agreeing with you. Pea protein is safe and easy to digest by most but there are a few for whom pea protein is problematic. Eliminate these possible reasons first. Then…

It Could Be a Blessing in Disguise

It’s showing you a need you may otherwise not have detected. If you aren’t fully digesting so you can absorb foods eventually that could lead to a problem in the gut or with insufficient nutrients. Many women believe they have GERD or heart burn because of too much stomach acid, but often it’s the opposite. They have too little. A supplement called Betaine HCL can be helpful until your body can kick up it’s own production.

Stress and anxiety can affect your stomach acid production so take a few deep breaths before each meal. Sit down. Avoid technology and news while you’re eating. Make some simple rules for conversation if you’re eating with others. Sure, you may all want and need to talk about COVID19 for instance. But don’t do it at dinner. 

Q: What Animal Protein Sources are There Besides Dairy and Egg?

(Answered in regard to protein powders) A hydro-beef product is 97% pure animal protein from cows that have never been subject to hormones or antibiotics. The protein is rich in collagen and has a moderate amino acid profile. If you’re a “hard gainer” or you truly do endurance sports or body building you may want to see first how your body responds. You might decide to boost your amino acid intake with a supplement.

Q: What’s Better Animal-based or Plant?

This of course has to be in alignment with your beliefs, your preferences, and your body’s response. Of all protein powder questions this one is the most challenging. I honestly like to alternate and use both.

I will use a Plant Power protein one day and a Paleo Power protein the next. When I use the plant I’ll add additional plant protein with hemp hearts – a plant source of complete protein yet not enough on it’s own. When I do my Paleo version I know I’m getting a shot of collagen to boost skin, hair, and nail health as well as supporting muscle. Remember smoothies work best when used as a part of health whole food diet, not instead. So what you eat the other one or two meals of the day matters as much as your smoothie.

Q: How Can I Stay Full on a Liquid Smoothie?

Protein (and added fiber) have an amazing satiety factor. If you have adequate protein, fiber, and fat in that smoothie you’re potentially boosting satiety compared to most breakfast meals.

Here’s a popular post I wrote describing the ultimate smoothie making guide.

I personally enjoy a smoothie bowl more than a smoothie. I use less liquid and then top it with nuts, seeds, or fruit for a colorful sit down breakfast. If you still can’t stay full, overnight oats (pictured above) or simply make oatmeal with more liquid then stir protein in are amazing. If not? You’ve got the wrong kind of protein! (hint: many plant proteins are not good for this – its just one more reason I introduced Plant Power at Flipping 50).

Hungry for more information on protein after 50? Click Here

If you liked this post you may also be interested in these:

Feeding the Muscle That Boosts Metabolism

Are You Getting Enough Protein? with Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

Fitness Myths Sabotage Hormone Balance (jump to #4)

Serious about cleaning up your diet? 

Need support? I’d love to help. Join the Food Flip I’m coaching in May. Usually, reserved only for current strength training program participants I wanted to make support easy and accessible during COVID19 so I’ve give everyone who joins a 50% scholarship code: foodflip50

Food Flip Recipe Guide

See the details here. Registration ends April 28th. 

I’m also giving you additional 2 weeks after the program to continue supporting you through this COVID19 (and might I say, wish, pray) after we return to a bit of normalcy. 

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