If you want healthy body composition (less body fat and more lean muscle tissue) and you’re post menopause, sprint intervals are proven to get you there.
Visceral body fat, especially, is correlated with increased risk of heart disease. If you want to maintain your health as you age, this lesser prescribed activity may be your ticket.
You’ll want to read/listen to this.
In fact, you may think after hearing this episode sprints are your one stop shop for fitness.
There’s proof that short sprints (really short) followed by short recovery can boost muscle mass (RARELY heard of during other cardio exercise more often associated with muscle losses).
The protocol for the study published in the Journal of European Applied Physiology in April 2019 was done on post menopausal subjects was 8-second sprints alternated with 12-second light pedaling for 20 minutes.
There was 8 minutes of light pedaling before and 8 minutes of light pedaling after the intervals for a total of 36 minute exercise sessions.
I’m inserting a video of me toward the end of this workout. You’ll see what I liken to the “ugly cry” aka the ugly workout in the Arizona heat. Because this requires a lot of control I do it on a trainer as opposed to outdoors. A stationary gym bike does not give you the same control. If you’re using bikes at the gym try to get on a spinning bike.
FYI, a trainer to put your bike on at home is around $300. You could spend more but you don’t need to and you can probably find someone selling theirs. A Wahoo trainer for the serious cyclist is about $1200. Again.. it’s up to you! For post menopause body composition, it’s about your intensity and that is not defined by the tool you use.
Subjects did this 3x per week for 8 weeks. It seems SIT = sprint interval training might be replacing HIIT for optimal changes for one big reason. It’s not just about the fat burning effect of intervals that’s been the sex appeal of High Intensity Interval Training for years.
The increase in muscle mass after 8 hours (total interval time during the 2 month study) of sprinting is higher even than that of effect of strength training shown to increase muscle by 40 g per hour.
Don’t forfeit your strength training just yet though.
With the strength and stamina provided by weight training you’ll be able to take the intensity of those sprint intervals up a notch for better results. You’ll also be reducing your risk of injury.
To further reduce injury risk, perform intervals only on exercise modes you’re already:
The bottom line on muscle mass is related specifically to a type of muscle called Fast Twitch muscle fibers. I have done several media appearances about this topic. I’ve included a few videos below. [Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see new and newsworthy videos right away].
In addition to sprint interval training and strength training (heavy or moderate weight with power being most effective), make sure your vitamin D levels are adequate. Vitamin D supports growth in fast twitch muscle fibers.
For information about ordering your own tests of your nutrition status, you can find the labs I use here. [Use Flipping50now for a crazy special –at the time of this post for $200 off the Elite Athlete panel. Other visitors, you can use Flipping50 for $20 off your first order of any kind. Click the links to the right to learn more about how the specific labs will help you.
Post menopause body composition is controllable. But it’s not the old eat less, exercise more equation. There’s both more to that and less – namely potentially, less exercise. The right exercise makes far more difference than more of the wrong exercise.
Did You Get the Core Challenge, Yet?
Click the image and you’ll find the place to add your best email address (take your time and get the spelling right so it reaches you!) and get the cheat sheet download immediately! plus a short podcast explaining the importance of the right (and not the wrong!) core exercises!
Join the Flipping 50 Café for exclusive insider tips, master classes, coaching time with me, recipes in the Flipping 50 lifestyle, monthly challenges, workouts, how to, and ….we’re rolling out mini courses to organize content into just what you need right now. I’ll be blogging about it too! I can’t wait to see you inside!
This Flipping 50 TV episode shares a unique question from a fitness professional seeking younger looking skin. If you too are exercising, eating right, and yet your hormones might be deeming your current routine ineffective this is your episode!
Today’s question comes from Jeanine who writes, “My skin is getting crepey. I am in the [fitness] business and have recently done a nutrition certification program. I would like to help my clients as well as myself.”
Jeanine adds that she’s also got cellulite on her thighs.
First, I love that a fitness pro asked this question. We all need help sometimes so let’s take a look at all the factors that influence healthy skin and can help turn back the clock on signs of aging.
Lose skin can happen to anyone at any weight. It doesn’t always matter if you’ve lost significant weight, or like Jeanine, you’re 57 and at a healthy weight and healthy body composition doing everything you can. There are some things you can do to help improve your skin.
My friend and America’s holistic plastic surgeon Dr. Tony Youn is our expert, and I’m going to share some of his advice for younger looking skin here as well as link to my favorite products.
Let’s talk about how to work on skin both from the inside out and the outside in.
Circulation and sweat from physical activity helps skin stay younger looking.
Jeanine is getting a LOT of activity – she doesn’t need any more activity.
She runs twice a week on beach and does High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) five times a week (which may be a little high increasing the breakdown without providing enough time for repair and increased lean tissue). She weight trains three times a week.
Jeanine wisely mixes it up with low repetitions of heavy weight and higher repetitions of light weights.
Be sure not to over do it with exercise so that you can balance lean muscle increase or maintenance with fat burning goals. Jeanine has an active job demonstrating 2-4 hours a day for her clients. Taking that into account, I would reduce the frequency of HIIT by taking a day of rest, and swap out HIIT for beach walking and or a recovery yoga session. Everything seems high intensity. It’s important to remember that ALL of a good thing is not as good.
Take a month and try alternate weeks of what you’re doing now with a week with 2 days rest, and greater emphasis on weights with less cardio.
If you’re struggling with lack of skin tone and lose skin you may need to take a day off, I’m going to do a yoga series with you in Muscles in Minutes.
Cutting back on exercise can be not only counter-intuitive but downright hard! If you love exercise and like that “fix” try substituting something that won’t be so hard on muscle breakdown and will allow you to move while you repair.
Jeanine eats so well! She’s getting veggies in at each of her three meals yet lacks protein. A range of 20-30 grams per meal breakfast lunch and dinner is recommended to spare muscle loss and gets increasingly important after 50. Meeting your protein needs can help maintain younger looking skin.
You want both protein high in essential amino acids for muscle and high in collagen for skin and joints. Breakdown of muscle and collagen can be partially responsible for losing muscle and a decline in your skin tone.
The recommendation is 20-30 grams of protein and many experts agree 30 grams as we age is more optimal. A whole egg contains 6 grams of protein. So it’s important to find options that will help you reach your protein needs. Leftovers, if you’d rather have lunch or dinner for breakfast are an option. Have a smoothie or add part of one to a serving of oatmeal if you prefer, because even if you bumped your egg intake up or added beans and quinoa to it, you don’t want to do eggs every day since they’re a likely food sensitivity.
Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Heat in the morning. Top with a dash of cinnamon.
Want more info on skin? In Flipping 50 TV episode 18 I consulted with Dr. Tony Youn for his younger looking skin tips!
Here’s a special link for 16% off for the bone broth I love that’s totally different. Think you’ve tried them all? I did too. It’s a delicious way to not just boost skin collagen but to snack if you need it while you’re trying to boost your hormone balance. It’s one of the first things I recommend during a Flipping 50 program for exercise recovery and hydration or getting through that afternoon need for something.
Toxins in skin care products – or products just missing collagen-production stimulating ingredients could be keeping you from younger looking skin. Use skin care products that are just as clean as your protein should be! Dry brushing regularly before a shower can also help slough off skin and rejuvenate.
Jeanine indicated her stress level is a “9” so working on that can help. Stress causes accelerated aging inside and out- including your skin – whether its around the eyes and mouth or elsewhere.
Most women use 14 or more products by 9am. Double check all of the personal products you’re using: make-up, lotion, shampoo, and soap to make sure you’re not putting toxins on your skin daily that are accelerating aging.
The Key Flip of the Day:
Even experts can’t have all the answers and we too are vulnerable to health and hormone changes. Knowing when to ask for help is a strength.
Try another one of my secrets to younger looking skin. Some of the things I do to boost circulation put me in the sun, wind, heat or cold, or chlorine. Just like my body needs recovery, I like to give my skin the right treatment! Annmarie Skin Care products
Right now (ends July 13) you can get a 7-day supply of both their bestselling Aloe Herb Cleanser and Anti-Aging Serum for only $7 (with free U.S. shipping, too!). The normal price of these two products is $35, but for 500 of our readers only, you can get this awesome $7 deal. Click here for details.
Try this App for How to know if your products are “clean”
Do you know now much is enough? While most adults know protein is important a large percent polled randomly while grocery shopping don’t know if they’re getting enough protein.
We’re diving into high quality protein needs for flipping 50 on this episode. So whether you’re a vegan or love meat, whether you’re struggling to see tone and lose fat, or you want to avoid becoming frail as you age (or help parents do the same), this episode is for you.
~Dr. Gabrielle Lyon
Flipping 50 guest, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon is a functional medicine physician specializing in Muscle-Centric Medicine. She leverages evidence-based medicine with emerging cutting-edge science to restore metabolism, balance hormones, and optimize body composition.
Questions about quality protein we answered in this episode:
“When you’re younger your body is driven by hormones. When you’re older you’re driven by protein.”
~Dr. Gabrielle Lyon
Quality Protein Need Facts we review/myths we bust:
You’ll hear Dr. Gabrielle’s every-woman comment about the deeper value of muscle, protein, strength training, and inner strength:
Connect with Dr. Grabrielle Lyon here:
Follow her on Instagram!
Exclusive for Flipping 50 Podcast listeners!!
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For the best results, pair your high quality protein with strength training twice a week.
Need help with strength training that increases muscle without injury or hours?
This after 50 smoothies guide answers all the questions I’ve fielded over my career as well as those I’ve personally had over 34 years as a female fitness professional, and athlete, and desk-bound entrepreneur. You may have resistance to smoothies or protein. I’ll share with you why I did, why you should and why I did a complete 180 after 30 years. You can decide how you too will benefit from smoothies and how to do it.
If you’re committed to changing the way you age and doing everything in your power to make that happen, congratulations! Committing to that is a big first step.
You need clarity about what it takes to do that. When you’re clear on what you need to do its easier to follow through even when it’s not convenient. We’ve all been derailed when we’re traveling, stressed, or tired. When you’re dealing with life’s challenges you’re going to be more likely to stick to habits that help you reach goals when you’re clear on why they help.
Whether you’re athletic or you’ve always been sedentary and not necessarily into exercise, you probably want to be healthy your whole life. I’ve never met someone who says they hope to get sick later in life. You can change your future health based on what you do now. If that’s you, then keep reading. After 50 smoothies are a part of doing that, deliciously.
Believe it to see it
If you believe you are destined for a certain kind of future associated with aging that includes weight gain, joint pain, sleepless nights, confused thinking or even disease, this blog, even this website or anything I have to offer probably won’t interest you. If you think you have to settle for and accept any of those symptoms if you’ve got them now, I disagree.
Academic reviews of research literature, over three decades of work with midlife and older adults, and coaching midlife women all over the world. I’ve been writing for over 30 years. I’ve been creating blogs dedicated to midlife and older adults, sometimes as many as five unique blogs and articles per week, for over four years. Each one required reference to research.
There are certain things that determine how well you age. Your environment, stress, and sleep matter. Your food quality, quantity, activity level and strength and endurance as we age matter. Muscle matters. At the center of your health and wellness is your ability to remain active and to live independently. Keeping lean muscle to avoid excess fat and disease is a must. Quality nutrition is a part of that. That is the heart of after 50 smoothies.
Smoothies for muscle loss prevention and increased fat burning
Sarcopenia, the term coined for significant muscle loss that occurs with age is completely avoidable. Active older adults don’t lose muscles mass the way sedentary older adults do.
Consuming adequate amounts of calories and protein with age helps enhance your lean muscle tissue.
There is a lot of confusion about even what a smoothie is and with the variety of smoothies you can find out there it’s no wonder. A quick Google search shows 41 million options for finding smoothies. Most of those use the word healthy in the title. Let’s dive into smoothies. Let’s ask, “who says”the next time someone labels anything “healthy.” Because in this after 50 smoothies guide we have more to consider than what may be an outdated look at food-for-all.
Three years ago I published The Protein Report. The epidemic of muscle loss we’ve seen in older adults in prior generations is preventable. The American College of Sports Medicine published a review of literature in the Health & Fitness Journal that stated adults over 50 reaped benefits to exercise similar to 20 year old counterparts when they were given protein supplements (smoothies) pre or post exercise that was closer to 40 grams of protein (provided it had adequate essential amino acids- specifically 2.3 gm leucine per meal). The 40 gm protein supplement in older adults resulted in benefits from exercise comparable to the 20 gm for younger subjects.
I have to share straight up with you my reason for helping you find smoothie ingredients that help you with the most common complaints I hear from women. I want you to feel great! I want you to feel like you look great! I want you to sleep great! I want you to feel like little bits of exercise I give you are working!
Because when you do… you will not be asking me how to get and stay motivated to exercise. Those things make you want to move more. Sit down for this next statement.
Exercise does not in itself lead to weight loss.
It does, however, lead to things that DO lead to weight loss. It reduces your likelihood of needing medications for conditions and disease. It reduces the chance you’ll need joint replacement due to injury or excess weight from inactivity. It enhances food choices. It enhances your quality of sleep. It boosts your mood –decreasing the incidence or severity of anxiety or depression. It decreases hot flashes and night sweats.
If you’re saying to yourself, not for me, those things haven’t happened for me, you have room to improve the type and the timing of exercise for your specific needs. Not all exercise is created equal for every individual. You’re not a cookie, so don’t follow a cookie-cutter exercise prescription. Hormone-balancing exercise is oh-so different. Not all smoothies are the same either.
Seemingly I’ve coined a term here. I’ve done it purposefully. We have less wiggle room. My definition is a powerful glass of protein, fiber, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory foods, and healthy fats that is ready in minutes and hard to replace with any other breakfast option. That’s an after 50 smoothie at it’s best.
Compare a smoothie to breakfast options like steel cut oats, Greek yogurt, eggs with veggies, chia pudding, or more traditional eggs and bacon, bowl of cereal (even high fiber), or toast, even avocado toast with an egg and you’ll find a smoothie comes out ahead in protein, healthy fat, fiber, and micronutrients. A smoothie is a delicious vessel of nutrition that provides a quick solution to the no-time-for-breakfast dilemma.
That’s pretty sexy for breakfast.#youstillgotitgirl and #hotnotbothered worthy
If you were going to dump all the ingredients out on to a plate that you put into a smoothie, you would never eat it all. A smoothie made right is an “eat real food” option. In fact it’s a way to eat more real food, more components that make a smoothie an age-defying start to your day.
The cost of making a smoothie at home varies drastically depending on the ingredients and where you shop. If you’re at Whole Foods buying a smoothie you could easily spend $8-12. The most costly item – and the one that most determines whether you’re having a “vitamin” or “poison” is the protein you add.
If you were to order or make a breakfast that included health omega 3 fat, greens and cacao full of anti-oxidants, 21 gms of protein, and about 8 grams of fiber (a boost of fiber with chia seeds would be good here) it would be hard to do. It would be even harder to do in a minute or less time. If, like me you spend 10 minutes once or twice a month preparing baggies of your smoothie ingredients for the freezer, you can dump the frozen bag and the liquid ingredients into a Nutribullet and blend in seconds. The whole thing takes less than two minutes including rinsing the blender blade. I’ve started putting my Nutribullet into my carryon. A day of conference sessions that starts with a smoothie is so much better than a growling stomach, or gambling on the continental carb buffet.
The simple answer to that is: the ingredients. They make it either medicine or poison. What is healthy for you isn’t healthy for the next person.
If you don’t tolerate dairy, a smoothie made with Greek yogurt won’t work and neither will a whey or casein containing protein shake. A fruit-only smoothie may taste refreshing but it can also spike blood sugar and give you the one-two punch, right in the muffin top, of encouraging fat storage and halting fat burning due to insulin response. A smoothie full of chemical preservatives or artificial sweeteners will confuse your body and slow the metabolism. On the other hand, while you might not sit down to a salad for breakfast (but you could!), drinking a mixture of greens, cucumber, celery, and lime down with an apple or kiwi can start your day with
It’s almost a sure bet that if you’ve walked through a food court straight to the smoothie counter feeling virtuous you’ve fallen for marketing. That liquid lunch is probably even more devastating than the burger or taco might have been.
It’s not just what’s in your smoothie but what’s not in your smoothie that makes it healthy. Avoid any chemicals you can’t pronounce. Avoid all the pseudo names for sugar. Pass on protein options with over 5 grams of sugar per serving. Look for as few ingredients as possible. If it’s an animal product, make sure it’s grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free. If you’re taking a multivitamin and other supplements already added vitamins are not necessarily a good thing: your vitamins and those in the smoothie will compete and you absorb less.
Start with greens: kale, spinach, chard, romaine
Add healthy carb: ¾ cup frozen berries or medium orange, sweet potato, beet, beans
Or Add veggies: cucumber, celery and Lime or lemon juice
Add fat: avocado, nut butter, coconut oil
Add fiber: chia seeds, ground flax meal, Fiber Boost
Add liquid: pure filtered water, alternative milk
Add spices: cinnamon, turmeric
Add superfoods: maca, matcha, cacoa, goji berries
What’s Wrong with Many Smoothies?
Plenty. There is a definite difference between juicing and smoothies. There’s a difference between a smoothie made from a processed pre-packaged mix and a smoothie made from ingredients from your refrigerator like kale, spinach, berries, cucumber, nuts and seeds. There’s a difference between chemical-laden protein shake mixes and those with fewer than five ingredients made from carefully selected plants or grass-fed hormone free animals.
Start reading ingredients carefully. If you’re stopping at the top reading the macronutrients protein, fat, sugar and carbs, keep going from the first ingredient to the last. If you can pronounce it and you’d feed it to your child you’ve potentially got a good product. Below is a list of smoothie mistakes you want to avoid.
Inflammation causing ingredients:dairy*, sugar
Hormone & adrenal disrupting:Soy, fillers, chemicals, artificial sugars
Blood sugar spiking and fat storage:fructose, maltodextrin, fruit juice, excess fruit (dried or tropical), sucrose, sucralose, whey*
Too little protein: less than 20 gm per serving
Too little fat: less than1-2 servings fats
Too little fiber: means lack of fullness and rapid absorption of sugars
*Use of whey protein for those who don’t tolerate dairy or poor timing of whey protein even if you do tolerate it can increase blood sugar if you’re consuming it at times other than pre or post higher intensity exercise.
Because whey protein is so common if you’re just starting to use protein shake as a way to bump your protein content up, be sure to read about all possible options before you start your after 50 smoothie habit.
Ultimate After 50 Smoothies Guide to Ingredients
There are so many reasons why you may be drawn to a smoothie. Repeatedly I hear from private clients and women in my group programs (some of whom resisted at first!) that smoothies make it such an easy decision in the morning. It’s not different from the bowl of cereal that may have been our past, but it’s much better for you.
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for Muscle loss prevention
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for Fat Burning
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for enhancing Satiety
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for natural hormone balance
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for brainpower
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for natural detox (liver support – alkalinity helping hormones)
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for Blood sugar balance
After 50 Smoothie Ingredients for Reduced inflammation
After 50 Smoothie Ingredients for digestion & gut
Smoothie Ingredients for reducing bloat
Smoothie Ingredients for enhancing skin
A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed older adults who combined resistance training and protein supplements had superior results to adults who did resistance training only. Subjects across 17 studies who supplemented with protein had significantly more lean mass and leg strength compared to subjects who did resistance training alone.
Muscle preservation is important in longevity and quality of life. Improved metabolism through strength, endurance and active lifestyle decreases the risk of frailty and obesity both. You have to choose your health priorities and address them in order of importance. After 50 smoothies should be build around high quality protein.
Are you getting enough protein?
If you’re not active, you’re not off the hook. As unintuitive as it is, your protein need is greater. Active adults improve conditioning in a lot of ways, and one of them is that they synthesize protein better. So while an athlete or very active older adult may do well with 20 grams of protein per meal, a sedentary adult needs the higher range of protein – about 30 grams per meal – in order to prevent muscle loss. It’s easy to do that at most meals. A 4-6 oz serving of nearly any animal protein will fit that range. But at breakfast, more of us struggle. An egg has only 6 grams of protein. Toast with nut butter may give you 6 grams of protein. Even if you’re able to pull enough protein together, it’s a chore to add veggies, and fiber to those options.
See how an after 50 smoothie can make it easier to do the right thing?
Blood Sugar and Insulin
Blood Sugar and Insulin response to protein can be problematic for some older adults. If you have hyerinsulinemia resulting from a variety of metabolic diseases and conditions, you may respond differently to protein consumption. Your protein levels may be best kept lower than the recommended amount for preserving muscle losses. Essential amino acids in proteins can be associated with higher insulin response. Large studies exist showing both no negative response to insulin and negative response (insulin resistance). The answer for you is to test to know.
If you have a unique insulin response, you may do best with smoothies made with less protein than indicated. The addition of real food is key. A smoothie from an airport smoothie shop is likely to have processed foods and be high in sugars and chemicals. In your own kitchen, include greens, fresh low sugar high nutrient density fruits, health fats from nuts and seeds, and clean protein sources. Just about everyone can benefit from a daily addition of a micronutrient-rich smoothie.
Additional research shows improved insulin response in diabetics by using whey protein not just as a breakfast smoothie, but also as a drink before lunch and dinner. This is a factor of the rapid absorption rate of whey that helps to increase insulin response and maintain blood sugar levels.
Inflammation Reduction Smoothie
Make this creamier with coconut yogurt and enough pure filtered water to blend. This tropical tasting smoothie has a little kick. Tumeric has a strong taste so go easy on it if your taste buds are finicky! Any old smoothie can pack sugar after 50 smoothies should be selected based on goals and priorities for health. Most of us have some inflammation.
Bloat Reducing Smoothie
Seeing raw beets on the ingredients list may surprise you but they have more anti-oxidant power than cooked. Try it either way. Beets are great for anti-inflammation, improving blood flow and endurance, as well as detoxification for the blood and liver. The ultimate after 50 smoothies include beets because of these many health benefits.
This smoothie is my favorite way to refuel post-workout. It helps repair muscle after intense exercise, reduce inflammation, boost mood, and stabilize blood sugar. It’s a delicious flip.
You can see that the ingredients in this one are not dramatically different from other smoothies. Most smoothies feature both fiber and water that enhance elimination. But this one offers additional probiotics in live cultures from the either coconut yogurt, cashew-gurt, or Greek yogurt (if you can tolerate dairy). Continue to drink plenty of water when you add fiber like chia seeds. It takes both the liquid and the fiber together. I also add Fiber Boost to my smoothies.
Two, often overlooked, parts of elimination are (1) making sure you let yourself get hungry, and (2) make something that makes your mouth water. You need the right enzymes in your gut to digest well and looking forward to something that tastes good to you will help.
Constipation can be relieved with the right smoothie ingredients. At least 70% of the women who join the Flipping 50 28-Day Kickstart or private coaching tolerate constipation all the time or when they’re stressed or traveling. The longer food sits in your colon before it’s eliminated the more toxins may make you lethargic and sluggish.
Who feels like exercising when you feel like that? Even though exercise can help, it can be hard to get moving if things on the inside aren’t. More fiber and more water – both as liquid in smoothies – and in watery fruits and greens that are main ingredients in smoothies can help!
Q. Is adding “high protein” shakes dangerous?
A. For the most part, this is not a “high” protein diet. Most Americans don’t take in as much protein per meal as recommended to spare muscle loss though most online articles will show otherwise. If you change from low or no protein at breakfast to a protein-rich smoothie, it may feel like high protein but it’s only relative. The recommendations are well within RDA guidelines.
*If you have a renal (kidney) disorder or history of health issues you should always check with your doctor before making changes to your diet. For more information and my Protein Report click here.
Q. Do you lose fiber content when you drink it in a smoothie?
A. No. Juicing does remove the pulp and fiber from fruit and vegetables but blending does not, you’re still eating (or drinking) whole food – at least if you make your after 50 smoothie in your own kitchen.
Q. Can drinking smoothies spike your blood sugar or insulin?
A. If you’re not making your after 50 smoothie like you would a meal: including protein, fat, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates that sustain energy, there is potential that yes, you’ll have a spike in one or the other or both. Slow down and put healthy fats in your smoothie. Add fiber via oatmeal, flax, chia, and or avocado. If you are more prone to insulin or blood sugar issues, take extra care to do this. If a smoothie is a substitute for not eating, or for a carb-laden breakfast however you’re going to be better off!
Q. Do you lose nutrition when food is blended?
A. Some of the food is partially broken down, releasing enzymes that you can more easily digest making absorption of nutrients easier. For adults over 50 the stomach acids that need to be present to digest foods are reduced. Breaking down foods by blending can be helpful. In Flipping 50 programs I suggest a Betaine HCL support can also help this. You’ll feel the difference when you both 1) put more veggies in 2) absorb more of the nutrition from those veggies.
Q. What about collagen protein?
A. Collagen protein is a great addition for hair, skin, joints, and gut health. It doesn’t have the essential amino acids (EAA) you need for muscle loss prevention however. So you can do both, but don’t want to only do collagen if you’re aiming to sustain or gain lean muscle. I add collagen to many of my smoothies or alternately I sip bone broth like tea or like others drink wine before a meal. An after 50 smoothie is a start to good habits. Keep picking up small easy habits to make your day healthy.
Q. How do I make my smoothies?
What are your after 50 smoothie questions?
I’d love to hear from you.
Are you confused about protein muscle, and their relationship to longevity? You’re not alone. How much protein do you need? Where should it come from? Is all protein created equal? Do you get enough?
The first question isn’t whether you get “enough” protein.
The first question is how much protein you think is “enough.”
The question is how the protein is measured, the quality, and it’s impact on you long term. That’s about muscle.
That is about body fat, obesity, frailty, and the combination of frailty and obesity that is most deadly.
You can make changes in your diet from low protein to higher (within recommended amounts) and feel great. You can also go from animal to plant-based diets or plant to animal and report feeling great. Changes (with good health in mind) often act like a natural detox. It makes sense if you’re putting something in your body had been lacking you’ll feel better. The same is true if you remove what your body didn’t need. If processed food, wine, too much coffee comes out and real whole food goes in there’s going to be some positive impact.
What about the whole picture?
“I feel great” is about right now.
What about long term?
That’s really the question about any diet or lifestyle. Science studies adults at the end of life to look back and see what happened. By then however, life has changed. We’re looking back at those long-living adults from the Blue Zones and finding many of them have had plant-based diets, for instance. They’ve lived with lower weight, less obesity, and disease. Thus, they’re qualified as living healthier for longer.
There are a few things we need to dig into before we base changes in 2018 to what worked in another time (and in another lifestyle). They didn’t live with technology. They don’t live in an age where activity has to be sought and planned. They don’t live in an age when food is delivered in boxes to your door or made in Instant Pots, microwaves, or enjoyed with wine as a way to calm down. Family life was different – often consolidated under one roof – and there weren’t common single-parenting situations if even due to work-life balance needs.
They didn’t live with the same depleted soil, same farming techniques, pesticides, hormone-injected livestock, or same water and air quality.
It makes it hard to compare oldest of old now in isolated areas of the world with the mid-life way we now live and assume that if we ate what they ate we too will age better.
It might be true. But it’s a bit of a gamble to assume it would be so.
We’ve taken more prescription medications, more hormones, been exposed to more toxins than generations before us and will continue to be. What are the effects on our health and ability to thrive?
We don’t know unless we test.
It’s attractive though. Especially if you’re a woman who has struggled with weight or you’ve settled into eating energy bars, drinking wine, enjoying coffee, and looking for answers to balance the flip flop between healthy and convenience foods for years.
Changing your diet in any way temporarily – that is you haven’t taken on a mindset your done with dieting and the long term route actually IS the short cut – can be a detox. That is so long as you’ve gotten wise to the toxic sugar-free fat free approach that can actually make your body store more fat.
I’d love to hear if you’ve done a vegan diet. More importantly, if you’ve done it and measured your health changes and body composition over a long term basis.
Vegan or vegetarianism still includes eating with health-minded muscle maintenance in mind. If you cut out foods, you’ll lose weight. More plants in your daily diet can feel great. And if you’ve given your body a break from digesting animal protein, you will feel good for a while, maybe long term and maybe just for a few months. You eliminate consumption of some hormones (from eating other animals) that could be effecting your own. Most vegans eat an increased number of carbs and fat in order to take in protein. (That, by the way is not judgement: just fact).
There are those that do it very responsibly and consciously. It’s not a “diet.” It didn’t start out being a diet to lose weight though it may have been in response to health markers. Successful doctors, athletes, including endurance athletes have done it. Eating the same thing repeatedly can put a vegan who has fewer choices to begin with (if she’s attempting to ingest protein at recommended levels) at greater risk for gut issues as a result of food sensitivities.
Maybe you too can do it.
I couldn’t. Much as I would like to, I showed signs of weakness and fatigue even as I diligently included protein and carefully tended to micronutrients during my three-month stint. Month one began as a challenge to make changes in habits that had been 49 years in the making. But by the end of month one and certainly two, I was in. It felt good. I hadn’t decided to do three months, but at the end of each month I assessed and decided. Near the end of month two I began to feel weaker and workouts suffered. The same weight was heavy, the same cardio was more breathless.
How did I look? Thin, lean, muscular, but I was losing muscle as a high proportion to any weight changes. I got lots of compliments. We’re that kind of society. Thin is good. Even though you’re weak and have less energy or you might be at risk for frailty as you age, you look great! We have to be careful not to be caught in that trap.
Every body is unique. We all have muscles, bones, and hormones. We all have needs for food that fortifies and movement that strengthens, and rest that restores. Many women in midlife and beyond have similar needs but even in this group, you’re unique.
You have a unique body type that suggests your need for weight training is unique, your ideal cardio is unique, and your ideal combination of mobility and stability is unique.
You have a unique gut biome that suggests certain foods right now will be tolerated better or worse.
You have hormones that are changing daily, weekly, and monthly even after menopause. Those changes are based on food you eat, movement you do, and stressors that influence you.
If we isolate the focus on protein for muscle maintenance this conversation is not complete unless you know your body composition. As soon as a young adult begins exercise the body composition assessment should be mandatory. Unfortunately, it’s not. If it was, it would help athletes, individuals with disordered eating, middle-aged adults, moms, corporate athletes, older adults, and frail oldest of old. There is not one individual for whom this is not a “must know” measure.
Registered dietitians, nutritionists, personal trainers, health coaches, hormone experts, and physicians, should all be assessing or requesting and tracking body composition.
So often a plant-based diet chases a series of other diets. Have you tried them? Whole30, intermittent fasting, Bone Broth diet, or the Atkins, the Mediterranean, and the basic low carb, low fat, low sugar diets are a significant part of most women’s lives.
It makes sense. Structure provides freedom. So you generally feel good going on a diet. You have a plan! Plant-based diets increase the amount of plant food you eat! That’s a good thing. If we could all eat 6-9 cups of plant food a day (from a variety of 3 categories) we’d be better off. Some of us don’t or can’t without shifting to entirely plant-based food.
We’re choosing plants for different reasons. Spirituality, animal cruelty, and a fear of health risks are a few. But underlying reasons for plant-based nutrition for many is a desire for weight loss. The motivation to seek change was weight loss. The motivation to stay on it is weight loss. That’s dangerous. Just like an Atkins or Keto diet isn’t good for many people long term, choosing veganism for weight loss purposes without giving attention to collective micronutrient need leaves room to wonder about overall health goals.
If you believe RDAs you believe it’s 10-35% of your total diet. That diet is based on a calorie allotment for the day. That’s a broad range, 10-35%.
But not all proteins are the same.
Essential amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. Though you can find all the essential amino acids in plant foods, you can’t find them in the optimal distributions. Leucine, for example, is key in the muscle maintenance process. If you’re an adult near or beyond 50 who hasn’t been doing resistance training and or been particularly conscientious about protein intake chances your lean muscle mass is below where it could be.
If you believe research widely published since 2008, much of which was done on older adults, the recommended amount of protein is per meal. The most important concept is the amount of essential amino acids (EAA). Consuming 20-30 grams of protein (higher in the range for sedentary individuals) is the equivalent of about 14 grams EAA. All essential amino acids are not created equal. Leucine is a key EAA that needs to be present to prevent muscle loss. It’s hard to find leucine in the amount required (about 2.3 per meal) in plant-only meals.
Muscle leaves clues to the quality and quantity of protein intake. Muscle loss prevention has been linked to protein consumption levels at 20-30 grams of protein at each of three meals.(With no adverse side-effects reported: though anyone with renal disease should consult a physician). For older adults there’s proof that an even higher level of protein intake, particularly around exercise can offer significant gains in muscle. Protein for muscle loss prevention becomes increasingly important – or it has. What if we didn’t skid into older adulthood having lost muscle?
It’s a choice.
I felt great, too. For about two months on a vegan diet. I did accomplishing the 20-30 gram per meal goal. The problem with doing so was twofold, the quality of what I was “counting” as grams of protein included things like bean chips. I was consuming a lot of the same foods over and over again. Beans, and quinoa, and during that time, some soy products made up the staples. Realizing soy was not a girl’s best friend, when I eliminated it I nearly had to have beans daily. Plant protein shakes supported my meals.
If you’re not vegan and are unfamiliar with the diet, let me clarify that there are no eggs, no yogurt, and no whey protein. When you realize not all “plant” foods are created equal – soy for instance – it becomes a major challenge to not consume a lot of nuts, nut butter, beans, and quinoa over and over.
Having a “plant-based” diet is not as simple as just eating plants. Not if you’re going to remain healthy. A concern is that consumption of the same foods over and over again leads to food sensitivity and gut issues.
Whether you believe you just need “some protein” or you follow research suggesting that muscle loss with age is directly correlated to:
And the least of those is age. In the past, it was accepted that muscle loss, strength and stamina losses were a natural part of the aging process. We now know that muscle loss is related to inactivity, and insufficient calories and specifically protein.
Body composition is one of the biggest reasons muscle mass matters to you during peri-menopause and those years just after. There’s a strong chance that you’re going to notice dissatisfaction with your shape and tone first. We don’t necessarily have urgency about our health longevity at 50 as we do at 70.
We’re still toying with the idea of bathing suits and shorts we’ve not given up looking great in. At 70 we may still be there (let’s hope) but we’ve potentially also lost parents and watched a decline that may have included weakness, falls, injury or illness resulting in bed rest. Those things had the potential to spiral quickly into less activity and more weakness.
By 50 you could have lost a significant amount of muscle mass (.5 pounds a year starting at about age 30) by the time we’re 50. Let’s say that’s at worst. Your losses may not have been so noticeable. It’s potentially just that your clothes aren’t fitting the way you’d like them to or you’re noticing a softness that didn’t used to describe you.
Losses that occur over time lead to what might seem minute muscle loss you don’t feel. You may simply have that additional fat weight as you age. You may on the other hand appear frail.
If you have the misfortune of a health risk that puts you at bed rest or requires you to be less active for a period of time, your muscle loss will accelerate. It’s inevitable. The less you have in the bank the more quickly noticeable losses will occur.
When bed rest happens in your teens, you’re weak for a few days and then you’re back to running laps around the track or playing ball for hours. When it happens at 50 you may take months or a year to feel fully yourself. At 70, you may not get back that high energy you.
The stronger you are if you have to do down, the faster you’ll get back up.
Looking good and feeling good are big motivators for changing behavior. A weight lifting program that is only about cosmetic results won’t necessarily keep you from injury. Form follows function, however. If you are doing the things that make you healthy for now and for your future, you will also reap the rewards of loving the clothes on your body as much as you did putting them in the closet.
Protein muscle longevity: they go together, they’re not separate.
The right strength training requires muscle. Muscles require protein for building blocks. Your body can’t make protein out of thin air. You’ve got to give it a full profile of essential amino acids to build muscle.
If you’re not doing resistance training, you don’t need protein less. Your need for protein is increased if you’re more sedentary.
What about vegan strength trained athletes? What about vegan or plant-based long distance athletes?
Clearly the body can adapt. They’ve proven it. For now.
Body composition doesn’t lie.
This isn’t a matter of right or wrong. It’s not a plant or animal protein battle. It’s just a matter of health, quality of life now and later.
Someone recently said, “I know you’re a proponent of protein.”
More accurately, I’m a proponent of muscle and sparing muscle loss.
The way I’ve been able to do it for myself and for thousands of clients is a combination of two pillars: the right type and timing of strength training and protein intake. Those supported with some specific daily habits have increased lean and decreased body fat in adults 20-90 during my 34 years. The methods I use have been skewed toward animal protein since 2008 but not without testing a vegan lifestyle in 2013 for three months.
Like hormone balance would be the goal, and bio-identical hormones are simply an option, muscle mass maintenance/gain is the goal and animal protein or plant-based diets are both options.
The question returns to how much protein do you need?
Research suggests and most recently even more clinical dietitians are finally on board with recommending a user-friendly 20-30 grams of protein per meal target.
The secondary question is, does the quality of your protein reach the goals for the research establishing these recommendations.
There are individuals who raise children on plants I suppose. I don’t know any. If we agree animal protein is something important at the beginning of the lifespan for development of muscle, why would we shift to thinking at the opposite end of the lifespan when we’re losing muscle easier (since it peaks at age 25), our needs should change? The protein for muscle debate isn’t likely to end any time soon. It’s good to be a critical thinker and assess what’s working for you and what’s not.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have them for you. I am looking forward to your comments and respect all opinions, especially those based on long term trial of a lifestyle way of eating.
20% off your first Paleo Power (no soy, dairy, gluten, additives, preservatives, sugar)
15% off your first Your Whey (the immune boosting, muscle repairing pre/post exercise option)
10% off your first Plant Power (You’re vegan or just want to rotate your protein options)
I’m frequently asked how I exercise and what I do for weight training. These are three of my favorite go-to workouts. How do I decide which to use? Sometimes I don’t: my schedule determines what I have time to do so I can still stay consistent. Other times I rotate the type of workout I do so that I don’t get too stale or stop paying attention. I know if my mind is drifting during a workout I’m not getting results I want!
When: no time
Why: want to focus on hormone balance, lean muscle stimulation, metabolism boosting, bone density
How often: Infrequently, one to two times a month
What: follow a longer warm up than you might ordinarily do, begin with major muscle exercises (squat, row, chest press) and do a set truly fatiguing at 15 repetitions. Immediately reduce the weight and do another set of 15. Continue until you have done 3 minimum or up to 5 sets.
Who: experienced resistance trained exercisers
When: want a faster paced efficient use of time workout that also will be slightly low aerobic effort
Why: a good change in stimulus for muscles, serves as a low level aerobic workout for hormone balancing (replaces some cardio time)
How often: depending on goals, 1 time or less a week
What: pair two exercises that focus on opposing major muscle groups (e.g. chest press and back row), usually 3-4 sets
Who: Anyone who has a foundation and built up to doing multiple sets
When: want to increase strength, muscle tissue, boost fat loss, and or bone density
Why: strategically allows rest between sets that increases results
How often: 1-2 times per week
What: Perform 3 or 4 exercises in a row each that hit a different muscle group so adequate rest is allowed before using a muscle or even body part again (upper body)
Who: Beginners and those not seeing results from current exercise (bootcamp-like programs don’t always allow rest between use of same muscle groups)
The Weight Training Details
Where you see certain protocols above listed with a frequency of 1 -2 times a week, note that you do want to do resistance training twice a week minimum. Yet, you might mix up what you do for “muscle confusion” and managing your multiple goals or juggling weight training within your personal schedule.
I, for instance, will almost always do two different protocols when I do weight training twice a week. I want my muscles to be surprised, in a nice way. Or, at least, I want the nice surprise that happens when muscles are not bored and adapt to easily to the program.
Share your comments and questions below. If you’d love to see one of these in action, let me know which and I’ll do a live video for you on Facebook or in Youtube!
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.
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)
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?