Your Fitness After 50: Right Now and In the Future

Fitness is so much more than what size you wear or your resting heart rate. It’s not about how fast or far you can go. It’s not a matter of what workout you’re going to do. 

Your fitness after 50 has the ability to decrease your risk of disease, increase your longevity and the number of years you live healthfully (your healthspan). It’s dependent on so much more than whether you go for a walk or lift weights today. This is the big picture. Your fitness after 50 will be influenced not just by exercise but by so many more things. I’m including a comprehensive list here. 

I encourage you to go through this list and see really consider how well you’re doing each. Here’s the Cliff notes list in case you’re in a hurry. You can jump down to read details about the ones that interest you most below.

your after 50 fitness

1. Lift Weights

Your fitness after 50 depends on muscle. Muscle is now recognized as a key factor in bone density- or prevention of osteoporosis, as well as increased metabolism, and necessary for thriving in life rather than simply preventing frailty. 

Increases in muscle through overload improve body composition.

It is no longer about the amount of time spent lifting weights.

The longer your weight lifting session the longer the rest between exercises and it is not about time it is about the intensity of the load.

Bone doesn’t benefit from “more” repetitions of lighter weight – only from heavy weight you can lift few times.

Quality not quantity matters. That is, reaching fatigue, not the number of repetitions nor how long you do it matters. Like we’ve seen results from as little as 6 minutes of high intensity exercise a week (intervals) we have seen muscle-fatigue-inducing strength exercises in minutes reap better results than hour-long classes. 

Strength and endurance benefits is necessary for the ability to do additional work of interval training that you will see offers big benefits. Weight lifting also increases bone density so that additional beneficial activity is safe. Any cardiovascular exercise is good for the circulatory system, but only weight training targets the skeletal system in a way specific to improving bone density.

In studies of weight training, interval training, and combined training weight training increases muscle mass and strength most. 

2. Move More: Exercise Less

Your fitness after 50 has less to do with cardio than you might think. Make cardio about your mitochondria and hormone balancing. Use your DNA.Studies show that men age 70 can reverse aging with mitochondria regeneration comparable to subjects in their 20s. Why is mitochondria important?

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of energy in the body. The aging process – if you do nothing – will negatively affect the production of mitochondria. Small doses of high intensity exercise have proven to support mitochondria function – by as much as double in three or four months in minutes a week. 

You will spend more energy all day by doing 2 training sessions a week than either one or three training sessions. That’s two sessions of strength, two sessions of intervals, and some additional exercise that’s more endurance based or simply a lot of movement daily. 

Samples of Intervals:

Perform 8 seconds on and 12 seconds of recovery 20 times. This is easiest to do on a bike, but it’s a challenge with almost any kind of exercise because it’s a very short amount of time to increase your work capacity to full out. Be sure your well warmed up before you begin. That’s a little over 2 and a half minutes of high intensity exercise. It’s been proven to increase fitness (in women in midlife). 

In the Wingate Test protocol you do 30 seconds of all out exercise and 2 minutes of recovery 4 times for a total of 2 minutes of work. You can run or power walk up hill or an incline, go as hard as possible on an elliptical or bike or do it in a pool. 

You can reduce time needed to exercise by doing these types of interval training sessions for 20 minutes twice a week (in addition to strength training twice a week), in order to have more energy for being active all day. The result is greater overall energy expenditure and reduced obesity and overweight. That’s less exercise and more movement. 

your after 50 fitness

3. Sleep Deep

If all you had to do was sleep more to lose weight would you go to bed sooner? Long sleepers compared to short sleepers lost more weight and more of the weight lost was fat (less muscle loss that is a natural occurrence with weight loss). Perimenopausal women all in the same weight loss program with similar status were subjects. So yes, it applies to you. 

The regeneration of the mind and the body that takes place at night is the glue that holds all your other positive habits together. Pad your sleep time like bookends with habits – a routine – that prepares you for better sleep every night. If you’re not sleeping at night, tell yourself it’s just that you haven’t prioritized it. 

Tell yourself that you haven’t yet found the right habits. Tell yourself that it’s possible to recondition and reset your circadian clock for better sleep. 

Hormones responsible for decreasing stress (cortisol and melatonin) and promoting lean muscle tissue (growth hormone and testosterone) require deep restful sleep. 

Eat carbohydrates later in the day, close the kitchen after dinner, get exposure to sunlight early in the day, and exercise – even 10 minutes daily improves sleep – just not too close to bedtime. 

Your fitness after 50 will be limited or supported by your sleep. 

4. Stress Less

If you have a rich life full of family, work, and activities you love, you’ve got stress. There’s no way around it. So this is no empty “lower your stress” advice. Embrace it! 

The only time you won’t have any, you’re close to dead. Your fitness after 50 is a dance between exercise stress and other stress in your life.

By increasing physical strength with the right exercise you enhance resilience

Increasing the joy factor (laughter, love, relationships, experiences)

Decreasing the toxic exposure (chemical exposure>food, water, air, products)

Physical stress from toxins, lack of sleep, dieting or over exercise, as well as emotional stress all contribute to your stress load. Control what you can. Small daily actions add up. 

What you’re taking out and what you put in both matter. Know that some of us do handle stress better than others naturally, but it’s also possible to adapt so you can handle stress better. If you have a strong “why,” what I call a “cry why,” that makes it all worthwhile, it helps. Make sure there is purpose to your life in ways you need it. Exercise is a big part of increasing your resilience to all kinds of stressors.

Boost removal of toxins stored in your body by gradually adding more fiber. Start with this healthy chia pudding recipe. Use this base or start getting creative with your own ideas. 

Chia Pudding



Pour the chia seeds into a bowl. Blend the protein powder and milk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the chia seeds. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy. This high protein pudding can double as a breakfast or a post-workout snack, depending on your goals and needs. Either way, it’s a craving killer that can satisfy you for hours. Make a couple and take one with you when you travel. Pop it into an insulated bag. Don’t forget the spoon! 

5. Get a Community

Socialize with people doing what you do or want to do, thinking the way you think or want to, you soon change your thinking>actions>habits and life

We know it to be true of cults and in scientific experiments.

Research tells us that resistance to change both internal and external is one of the greatest obstacles we have. When you’re surrounded by peopledoing what you’re doing or what you want to be doing you are more successful. 

If you have kids you know this one well. Remember how important it was that your kid’s friends were good kids? It’s no different for you.

It’s not that you won’t have resistance to change, but when you have more people going the same direction around you that resistance has less chance of stopping you. Your fitness after 50 is a factor of who you surround yourself with. Who do you spend the most time with? 

6. Stop Your Limiting Beliefs

You’ve first got to identify that you have thinking that’s holding you back.  That’s part of joining a community or having a coach. How else would you know? 

Next, you have to want to change. In the past 25 years many women (who were only doing body weight exercise) ask about body weight exercises for bone density and changes in body composition. When I share the science there are about 50% that will respond, I’m going to stick to my body weight exercises, thank you. 

Your fitness after 50 can’t be better than the expectations you have for it. 

If you believe something is true, the biology of that belief, (it’s not just a thought), has the potential to change the expression of your DNA. If there is any tendency for it to happen genetically, your belief will be fertilizing it. Or you can pull a bad weed by believing and acting in a way that won’t allow a genetic predisposition to occur.

I’m sharing the example of the famous hotel maids study in our masterclass to illustrate this. 

7.  Start Amplifying Your Good Habits

The thought that a good habit is good for you (like going for a walk every day) makes it more beneficial. If you remind yourself that by being busy at work even if you have a fairly sedentary job is good for your brain health and lifting weights over your lunch hour three days a week is keeping you fit the affirmation and belief has the potential to enhance your memory and the benefits of strength training sessions. 

If we could test you for 8 weeks with your normal habits, and then test again after 8 weeks of thinking it was true, science has proven that you would experience all the benefits of weight training (strength, endurance, decreased body fat, increased muscle tissue) more significantly during the second eight weeks. 

That famous hotel maids study illustrates this point perfectly, too. (Are you getting invites to join my free monthly masterclass? You can get the juicy stuff I only share via email here.) 

Your fitness after 50, therefore, can improve without more time and energy, so long as you’re already employing good habits. 

your fitness after 50

8. Cook Your Own Food

Almost anything you eat out of convenience (with a few exceptions popping up) is going to have more sodium, sugar, and saturated fat than you would cook at home. Further, even the salad bar is not safe with chemicals added to the greens to preserve them. 

On average eating out increases caloric intake by 200 more calories per meal. If you eat out the average 5.8 times a week, that’s 1160 more calories a week – of more saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. Your fitness after 50 will be enhanced by the right nutrition and sabotaged by poor nutrition. 

In addition to cooking at home, eat slow. Eating fast – the 20-30 minutes per meal Americans spend on average… often rushed, checking email, means you don’t even have the enzymes to digest food, leading to digestion and elimination issues. 

your after 50 fitness

9. Stop Making Excuses 

Nearly every excuse you give for not exercising is a reason to exercise. You have achy joints and muscles… exercise. You are afraid of falling or getting injured… exercise. You never have enough time… exercise. You are too tired… exercise. 

Ask, do I want that to be true?

I’ve been there. Married with kids, jobs, and a dog. Single parent with a house, a yard, two jobs, constant contact to hundreds of clients and students, writing a book, training for an Ironman, at every golf meet. I know about busy. Don’t talk to me about busy. You just decide. 

10. Stop Thinking Its Optional 

If you were sick and needed lifesaving medicine, you wouldn’t dream of not taking it. Exercise prevents nearly every major disease. Why get it in the first place? 

The terms Exercise is Medicine, and Food is Medicine have both become not just mantras and memes but scientific solutions to contemporary problems. 

If you develop a daily regime of movement your fitness after 50 will improve. Your commitment to the exercise gets easier. When adults who exercise regularly don’t get their regular dose, they don’t feel as good, sleep as well, think as clearly or handle stress as well. 

You can become one of those people.

your fitness after 50

11. Stop Doing More of What Doesn’t Work

When you’re not getting results from your current exercise program, there is no logic whatsoever in doing MORE of it. Increasing frequency and or duration of exercise is often the first default. Women assume that it’s their fault and they need to exercise more. But more exercise that isn’t already making you feel good… is certainly not going to make you feel great. 

If you’re not seeing and feeling better from the exercise you do now, don’t increase the frequency of it expecting to see better results.

Improving your fitness after 50 isn’t about doing “more” if it’s going in the wrong direction. Check in with your exercise prescription now and be sure it is in alignment with your needs and not based on some arbitrary governmental recommendation or you 20 years ago. 

If you’re exercising all the time, you may need to stop!  Doing less can be smarter. Figure out some other way to pacify or calm yourself. 

12. Eat Protein On a Per Meal Basis 

It is no longer a grams per kilogram body weight, or a total at the end of the day, or worse a percent of your total diet. It’s a much more user-friendly meal-based number of grams of protein. 

Early and continued research by Rasmussen and Jones and now an expanding number of protein experts both from exercise science and nutrition are coming together on this. 

Much of this research compared younger and older adults to each other. Older adults actually needed more, not less, due to decreased muscle protein synthesis. Your fitness after 50 is dependent on muscle. No matter what else you want to do or measure of fitness you want to improve you’ve got to have protein, the building block of muscle in order to enjoy optimal fitness. 

your fitness after 50

13. Identify Your Personal Food Blueprint

Your stress level, prior eating history, exercise, exposure to foods that cause inflammation all influence your personal ability to breakdown food and digest it optimally. 

While it’s true few individuals have Celiac disease, many functional doctors who work with women in midlife recommend omitting dairy and gluten because they find that 90% of their female patients feel better when they do. 

You can test for yourself on several levels. Your body never lies. So removing and reintroduction is a step I recommend every woman do. Lab testing can confirm or reveal additional information. DNA testing can show what may be true of you and encourage greater commitment to solutions. Testing: 

Use“Genes” for DNA testing 20% off (ends Dec. 20)

“28for10” for the 28-Day Kickstart January 

“Flipping50” for $20 off your Micronutrient testing at

14. Identify Your Personal Fitness Plan

The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women is about optimal hormone balance. A 2 x 2 program following a foundation of hormone reset optimally improves fitness and negates the negative effects of stress that can occur from exercise. 

From your DNA, and your personal preference or dread, you can determine the best way to spend your exercise time to get optimal results. Your fitness after 50 journey should be fun, uplifting, and exciting. If you haven’t found those activities or motivators keep looking! 

15. Rest During the Day to Sleep Better at Night 

What’s referred to as “wired and tired” can be avoided by avoiding the feast or famine adrenalin rollercoaster most of us are on during the day. 

If you’re constantly in fight-or-flight mode your body can lose the ability to rest-and-relax. Those systems, your sympathetic and parasympathetic system are meant to balance and in contemporary life, unless you override the constant on call and unplug, they fail to work correctly. 

Fight-or-flight will eventually begin to store fat for you to protect you. Rest-and-relax won’t work at night if you’ve not balanced that on and off switch during the day. 

It works occasionally: it was meant to, but unfortunately, we’ve turned life into constant flight-or-flight. 

your fitness after 50

16. Exchange Your Placebos for Real Energy  

Reaching for sugar and caffeine to wind up and wine to wind down or numb yourself all increase your weight, interfere with your sleep, and accelerate aging. 

Caffeine consumption – if it’s abundant – is actually related to weight gain. It increases insulin resistance and signals your body to crave glucose-containing foods because it reduces blood sugar. 

The simple advice is this. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re no longer hungry. Sleep when you’re tired. Drink before you’re thirsty. When you’re upset with someone have the difficult conversation. 

If you’re not doing that, start. If you’ve ignored the urge to go to the bathroom, the need to drink more water, the need for sleep you’ll need to retrain your brain to pay attention. 

One more energy placebo is adrenalin. You know you’re operating on adrenalin if you’re always waiting ‘til the last minute, or adding something to your to-do list, you’ve always got a dozen projects and your pushing to get something done. You’re always running late, or close to it. You might complain about it, but you actually don’t know how to exist with sustained stable energy. 

Unlearning your old habits and replacing them with new ones can reverse aging, increase energy and you can start feeling it in days or weeks. 

Have you got a story to tell about your fitness after 50 journey? I love to hear from you. Our community is inspired to hear real stories of people defying old limiting beliefs! 


Hot, Not Bothered: 99 Daily Flips for Slimmer, Trimmer, Fitter Faster So That You Can Master Metabolism Before, During, and (Long) After Menopause 

You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women

Fasting and anti-aging are two of the hottest topics among 50 and older women right now. The Flipping 50 podcast and blog have touched fasting lightly. Today we deep dive into my fasting experience, the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) I used and a guest who can address fasting from many angles.

James LaValle is an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board certified clinical nutritionist, and expert and educator in integrative and precision health.  James is probably best known for his expertise in personalized integrative therapies uncovering the underlying metabolic issues that keep people from feeling healthy and vital.

anti-agingJames is author of 16 ebooks and 20 books including the most recently released, Your Blood Never Lies, as well as his best seller, Cracking the Metabolic Code. LaValle is currently affiliated with George Washington University as a clinical instructor in the Masters of Integrative Medicine program, and received a Faculty of the Year award in 2017 from the American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine, where he has taught for over a decade.

I refer to the Fasting Mimicking Diet below (FMD).

If you’re a fasting skeptic, you’re in the right place. Jim and I both were, too.

Questions we cover in today’s episode:

  • Who have you worked with using the FMD?
  • What kind of results have you witnessed?
  • My experience was different each of the three times I used it, is that common?
  • What are some of the most commonly reported quick-wins with clients that have used the FMD?
  • Is there one diet that’s right for everyone?

Benefits that connect Fasting and Anti-aging:

  • Renewal of stem cells
  • Increased Growth Hormone
  • Enhanced ability to increase lean mass (following)

Fasting and Anti-aging Terms discussed:

Autophagy– cellular clean up that is allowed during times of FMD by giving the body a break from other processes

Immune Activation– your cell clean up inspires improved immunity as opposed to a dysfunctional immune activation and inflammatory response to the toxins we’re exposed to or self-induce

Renewal of stem cells/cellular regeneration– by day 3 of a FMD this is beginning to happen

Time restricted feeding– fasting and anti-aging begin with fasting between meals and overnight!

Quote of the Day:

“Muscle is the Currency of Aging”

Connect with James LaValle:

Ready to begin your journey?

Learn more about how to start with the Fasting Mimicking Diet and automatically complimentary consultation HERE. 

This post is about the hunt for the best bone broth. I didn’t even know I was looking and there it was, on my doorstep. Meet Kettle & Fire and the family behind it. 

Who doesn’t love a great soup? In this episode of Flipping 50 I introduce you to the founder of my favorite bone broth. I fell in love with the taste of Kettle & Fire before I knew the story behind it.

And now, frankly, I’m hooked.

I don’t order a few at a time I order cases and sip it in the afternoon, and make soups with it. I steam my vegetables in it and I make cauliflower risotto with it.

I do understand the benefits and love them. I am the girl who will do things simply because they’re good for me, but I use Kettle & Fire because I love the taste.
My guest on this episode is Justin Mares is the founder and CEO of Kettle & Fire bone broth a company he founded after his brother suffered a serious knee injury.

I asked Justin to elaborate more about the knee injury and the tie to bone broth.

Justin definitely has a story. It’s bigger than just bone broth.

Kettle & Fire is different. That’s what I wanted to talk about with Justin.

Here are some of the questions we answer:

  • What’s different about K & F?
  • You’re young! What inspired you to take this career path? No one grows up saying, “I want to make bone broth?”
  • Let’s talk ABCs for listeners who aren’t bone broth converts… what are the benefits of bone broth?
  • What is collagen and what does it do?
  • Specifically, what do amino acids and why were you so interested?
  • What do listeners who want health benefits need to know if they’re grabbing a BB off the shelf (and it’s not yours)?
  • What else is coming? I know you’re up to some new things now, can you share the details?
  • Do you have a favorite K & F?

Things I love about Bone Broth:

  • High collagen content to support joint health, skin health, and gut health
  • Amino acids (that come from 1. Broth 2. Bone marrow 3. Organ meats)
  • Both above boost longevity, immunity
  • Amino acids dampen blood sugar impact (which otherwise will accelerate the aging process)

Things I love about Kettle & Fire:

  • Shelf-Stable without additives or preservatives (2 years due to heat process)
  • Made from only marrow bone, grass-fed (beef) or free-range (chicken)
  • Organic vegetables and spices
  • The sodium is not added but comes from bones themselves (if bone broth has a higher amount of sodium – without added sodium – you know it’s been cooked long enough)

But don’t take my word for it! Try it yourself. Kettle & Fire generously provided Flipping 50 listeners with 15% off all productsand free shipping (US customers only) for 6 or more cartons (one per customer).

CLICK the LINK Below to order!

Coupon code: DEBRA

  • 15% off all products
  • free shipping on 6 cartons or more
  • (no min. purchase amount, limit of one per customer)

We’re sorry that this is only available for US customer only at this time.

Follow for yummy recipes and news!

Instagram: @kettleandfire

Twitter: @kettleandfire

Twitter for Justin Mares: @jwmares

Can You Break Up With Disordered Eating After 50?

Disordered eating after 50? This post is not very sexy but it hits on a topic that became a conversation between 35 and 40 years ago – when many of us flipping 50 were in our late teens, early 20’s and 30’s – flirting with it. Still today, the prevalence of eating disorders for many – and disordered eating for many more is a big part of the challenge of finding “eating right” I so often hear my fitness clients seek.

We’re not immune as we age. Disordered eating among women in their 50s and 60s is not uncommon. If you’re an emotional eater, or you’re fasting as an answer to weight loss when nothing else works, it’s a conversation that doesn’t have any flat out answers. There’s not a one-size-fits-all. But if at one point in your younger years  you knew that what you were doing might cause long term consequences, they may actually be showing up for you now.

disordered eating after 50 Eating disorders and disordered eating are widely associated with teenage girls and college-age women. Yet, a woman in her 50s and beyond can still struggle. Can you break free of a dysfunctional relationship with food in a society where dieting is a billion dollar industry?

Can you escape the temptation to try intermittent fasting? Every popular women’s magazine on and offline, and social media outlet has published something about it. When comparison mode takes over and you read about the success of some woman in her 50s or 60s using intermittent fasting or switching to a plant based diet, it’s tempting to believe you’ve found the magic bullet.

Food is tricky. It’s necessary. It’s triggers compulsive actions. It has history for you. Different foods are triggers for certain behaviors. Situations can act as triggers for a response with foods. For some women it’s being alone, for others it’s being with people. It’s comforting, numbing, and it’s both conscious and unconscious.

Even healthy, normal weight women find it hard to do what they want to do for their own health when they go out to dinner with others or have people over. Peer pressure and social stress seems to hit us even now.

Pursuing fitness with dysfunctional eating patterns that borderline eating disorders is a challenge. Improved performance is not possible without the right fuel.

Even with a pretty external appearance, signs of breakdown exist.

While there’s a large part of our over 50 population still struggling to make exercise a regular part of life, there is another segment that is trapped in a cycle of needing to exercise, and to eat with a rigid idea of what “getting a good workout” might look like. It’s like a heavy weight you’re carrying around all day.

disordered eating after 50Is Exercise Your Drug of Choice?

If you flirt with disordered eating after 50 chances are exercise is a piece of the puzzle (hence, the post from me). Exercise isn’t just a joy for you; it’s a must. It’s a have to, should and then it becomes a struggle of mind body when a breakdown or illness occurs. You know you shouldn’t, or that you’re doing too much with too little in the tank, but your mind is telling your body to shut up. Those memes in social media don’t help.

You’re paying yourself back with food. Or you’re not allowing yourself to eat if you haven’t earned it through exercise.

Exercise too, I hope, is indispensable. In our society we can’t afford not to move intentionally any more. So finding a good relationship with exercise so it’s not punishment or an “if I do this, then I can eat that” cycle.

Clutching limiting beliefs about foods or food groups that have been disproven by science but that have such an emotional tie or a near compulsive pattern of thought are often a part of dysfunctional eating. Believing fat makes you fat, that calories alone will control optimal body composition, or that eating “healthy” food is all you need to worry about all are a part of food hurdles you have to leap if you’re in your 50s or older at this point in time. Science of diets and food changed rapidly in the last two decades.

Exercise is sexy and acceptable. It’s respected and revered. Food is seductive and taboo at the same time. A woman who won’t talk about her eating disorder or pattern of constant thoughts around eating will talk about her fitness. It’s a mask she can wear and feel healthy, even superior, and happily distracted about.

Disordered eating after 50 could mean a lot of things about your relationship with the kitchen or eating out. You may hate to cook, or love to cook and bake, or be somewhere in between. Historically, women with eating disorders enjoy recipes, planning, cooking and baking. It’s a mask too. It’s not unlike a drug addict who becomes a dealer.

Do these questions from others hit an emotional cord:

“What can you eat?”

“Is there anything here you can eat?”

“You’re not going to eat? What? Are you dieting?”

Don’t overlook them or yourself as “sensitive.” They may be triggers for you.

Disordered eating after 50 is so much more common than you might think. We still however don’t talk about it or what’s underneath it. So, it’s isolating. You’re not however, alone. The online community offers great resources for you to get support, with some anonymity and convenience. It’s exhausting if you’re stuck here, perhaps never more than when hormones get involved in a big way at this time of life. If you’re ready to put it down, reach out. You can find support.

Post references:
Tricia Greaves Nelson – Heal Your Hunger
Dr. Joan Rosenberg – Free resources

What is a Keto diet? I’m so glad you found Flipping 50 TV! This is the opening episode for season III! Share your comments with me and share the episode with friends!

In this episode I answer 61-year-old Catherine’s question, “How do nutrition requirements differ when training for an endurance event?”

Minute Made

Specifically, Catherine has been following a Keto diet.

What is Keto?

A Keto diet is also called low carb, high fat – about 60-80% of calories from fat

About 10% of calories come from carbs, 20% from protein, and the remainder from fat. From person to person carb intakes vary- or should – so Catherine’s carb intake while training for triathlon will need to be higher than someone less active.

She’ll want to be sure to keep the carbs around her training times- pre, during, and post.  Otherwise her diet can remain relatively the same, if she has already shifted her diet and low intensity training for a period of time that allowed her body to use fat at higher intensities.

Keto Diet Concerns

Proper hydration and mineral balance – for anyone, an athlete at high heat and humidity this is a definite concern.

Side effects of a Keto diet

Side effects of a Keto diet can include constipation, fatigue, and frequent urination,

Weight loss is nearly immediate because you will shed water weight when you don’t eat carbs: for every 1-part carb you eat, you store about 3-parts water. As soon as you limit carbs you begin to shed that water.

Why a Keto diet (also called metabolically efficient)

If you teach your body to shift- (gradually) to a fat burning at higher levels of intensity common digestive issues and the need to fuel during exercise are reduced.

The body prefers carbs or the glycogen stored in your muscles from carbs during exercise. That said, shifting can be uncomfortable and a slow process, but it can be done. At low levels of activity you use fat. Right now… at rest, you’re burning nearly 100% fat for fuel. The harder you exercise the more the body naturally uses glycogen first.

Why Small Frequent Meals are Not Your Best Friend

When we feed the body regularly there’s no reason for it to burn fat. Those 5-6 small meals a day? If you want to lose fat, they’re getting in the way. There’s zero evidence that those mini meals – or grazing and snacking  – burn more fat. There is plenty of evidence that shows frequent eating increases fat storage and halts fat burning.

How many more people stop at fast food restaurants when drive-through was installed? They didn’t want to take time or make the effort to go in… but as soon as it was easy to drive through or get delivery fast food sales tripled. It’s the same for your body.

If you’re exercise progressively increases the biggest change is to pre-during-and post exercise needs. During the 24 hours following significantly hard or long workouts an increase in protein can help repair muscles.

My recommendations for exercise and nutrition … for women who are eating a balanced diet but want to lose fat or optimize their lean:

  1. Before long, endurance exercise at low levels – hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing – less to eat, with focus on protein and fat.


  1. Before higher intensity exercise – a little carbohydrate with small amount of fat/protein will help fuel a strong start and continued energy for exercise at higher intensities more comfortably. During high intensity exercise over two hours plan to refuel every 60-to-90 minutes. If you’re training for a race, practice during training what you’ll do on race day.


Triathlon and hiking don’t have the same kind of fuel needs. You’re going to be exercising at much higher overall intensity to complete a triathlon. Fuel appropriately.

Put Back in What a Keto Diet and Lifestyle Take Out

The more restrictive a diet is the more micronutrients through food alone are restricted. A well-formulated supplement regimen can be imperative for preventing long term depletion, adrenal fatigue, or disease.

Catherine is currently doing a daily multivitamin for over 50, calcium supplement with D, and collagen. She may want to upgrade to a multivitamin with non-compete technology at a minimum for any active woman. Catherine’s additional needs are based on her daily micronutrient “depleters.”

Exercise depletes micronutrients:

A, B, C E, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc, alpha-lipoic acid, CoQ10


A Keto diet depletes micronutrients: B vitamins, calcium, magnesium


Stress depletes micronutrients: A, B vitamins, calcium, selenium, zinc, iron, magnesium, omega 3 and a few others

*This is just a partial list of micronutrients depleted to illustrate the common denominators.

Frequent training at high levels, or for long duration, both increase cortisol. Low level over 75 minutes or high intensity 45-60 minutes, begin to increase cortisol in a negative way. Overall stress reduction is really important for a midlife or older woman training for endurance events.

If retirement finds Catherine able to train with low stress elsewhere in her life, with time not training spent resting and she’s able to meet increased sleep needs she’ll experience less stress than someone working and training so that’s on her side.

Catherine reports signs of fatigue. That’s common for someone doing an endurance event. It’s tricky to balance training progression, rest & recovery, and listen to your body. As a coach, I always want someone undertrained vs. overtrained. When in doubt, rest. Fatigue could be insufficient nutrients and or hormone imbalance.

Goals, Micronutrients, and Meals

Catherine’s goals are to reduce inflammation and time nutrition so that she has plenty of energy during training and race day. She wants to recover quickly from each workout so she’s ready for the next. Long term she would want to focus on maintaining lean muscle and bone density.

Based on the earlier assessment Catherine might want to consider how to bump the following micronutrients:

After Exercise Nutrition

Nutrition timing post exercise for most older adults should be 60 to 120 minutes. For Catherine’s increased frequency and intensity of training her post-exercise smoothie or high protein meal can come sooner.

She needs 20-35 grams of protein to prevent muscle loss, moderate carbs, and fat for replenishing and antioxidants & antioxidants to reduce inflammation. Research shows older adults can benefit from exercise comparably to younger subjects if they have almost double the protein (40 gm compared to 20).

My favorite recovery smoothie is packed with all of the above. Every ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties.

keto diet

Need strength training? Check out The Whole Flip by clicking the image.

Post Exercise Recovery Smoothie

Regularly check in with your level of fatigue. If training leaves you wanting to rest and recovery the rest of the day or sleep changes such that you don’t want to get up, or can’t stay asleep: these are signs of over training in someone who normally sleeps well and wakes rested. Get all my favorite (and Flipping 50 community favorite) smoothie recipes PLUS the guide to extra superfood additions.

keto dietMuscles in Minutes

Above all whether you’re exercising or training for an event you want to avoid adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a risk if following a training program too rigidly. Listen to your body’s need for more rest between sessions and or reduce the volume and increase intensity of specific workouts.

Training for endurance events in a traditional way – with significant volume – as an older adult, along with altering nutrition – is a lot of change, potentially a lot of stress on your body, at once.

During my most recent Ironman training I wrote my own program that allowed me to keep cortisol to a minimum, and maintain body density and muscle mass, as well as balance hormones through six months of progressive training. Here’s a link to my schedule. 

Make sure you keep up with some strength training both for injury prevention and bone loss from increased biking and swimming. They’re both great for muscles and health but remove the bone benefits of weight bearing activity.

Best Rest  

Track how well you recover. This will tell you how well your nutrition is meeting your needs. Slow recovery signs include constant soreness, or fatigue, or reduced capacity to exercise without feeling increasing difficulty.

Take a simple resting heart rate each morning while you’re still lying in bed. Monitor what happens after long training days, rest days, and moderate days.  A heart rate elevated by 5 beats over your normal for more than a few days is in indication you need to back off training and have a big recovery week.

You can also monitor heart rate variability, in other words, measure between heart-beats.

Say you have a resting heart rate of 60 bpm. You might think the time between each beat is a second, but it’s not. In fact, the more variability you have between heartbeats the better. It could be .8, 1.2 seconds and so on. The more predictable your heart rate variability the more you will do best with a recovery day instead of a training day.

It requires a special monitor and app. Both are taken first thing in the morning. Start with resting heart rate.

Another simple option is to track your sleep number, or your Sleep IQ, like I do with my Sleep Number bed. I prefer it to a wearable device. Resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and your Sleep IQ help you target your rest and training both. The first step is listening to fatigue, but if it’s daily and it’s cumulative it’s a good idea to start looking at a better balance between rest and training.

The Key Flip of the Day: You can try new things at any age.

Need help increasing your muscle? Try the 5-Day Flip with me. 

Have you got a question? Send it to me at and and maybe I’ll answer your question on a future episode!

Is Your Diet Keeping You Up at Night?

dietThis post about better sleep is sponsored by Sleep Number. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are completely my own.

If you’re on a low-calorie diet, you might be missing out on important nutrients. If you’re missing out on important nutrients, it could be interfering with your sleep. This vicious cycle is detrimental to a healthy lifestyle. This statistic is staggering: A recent study published by the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) found women between 60 and 90 who suffered from poor sleep also had poor diets. We need to stop ignoring the direct correlation between sleep and diet, so we can instead implement healthy routines to put the vicious cycle to bed (literally).

A few sleep flips for you right off the bat:

A diet insufficient in any way negatively affects neurotransmitters that regulate sleep and wake cycles. So if you’re trying to cut calories, or you make poor choices more often than you’d like to admit, you could be cutting your sleep, too. Then, the poor dietary choices you’re making could be a direct result of sleep deprivation! This downward spiral is tough to break.  In addition to neurotransmitters, Melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep, is also negatively impacted by a poor diet.

The more restrictive your diet, the more essential it is to look at what micronutrients might be missing and see how you can account for them. You might dismiss this sooner than you should. Sleep will often improve when you first start a diet, but can then worsen as insufficiencies catch up with you.

The NIPH pointed out many subjects in the study above had poor quality of protein due to missing leucine, a key essential amino acid in muscle building and repair. If you’re eating strictly plant-based, you’re more likely to need a boost of leucine at each meal, not just for sleep. Leucine is key to building muscle and sparing loss.

As if the frustration of tossing and turning isn’t the only motivation for sleep, lack of sleep slows your metabolism. No matter how much you exercise or how well you eat, without sleep, you’re going to struggle with weight. Longer sleepers have lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those that can’t get sweet dreams. BMI is not the end-all, but it’s a strong component used to predict healthy weight by physicians.

How much does it matter? For one of my clients in her sixties, it mattered to the tune of an extra 75 pounds she was able to lose. After years of exercise with no results, she decided to increase her quality and quantity of sleep, and that’s when the weight started coming off. You too can make nutrition changes to improve your sleep!

How to Eat for Sleep

Once you’ve buffed your diet, make sure you go to bed on a bed you love. A mattress is a smart investment, given you spend a third of your life in it! My Sleep Number bed has been a game-changer. I never knew what I was missing until the first night I slept on it.

A third of Flipping 50 customers have hot flashes or night sweats before they begin. Changes in diet can help you control the frequency and intensity of those midlife symptoms. A Sleep Number Dual Temp layercan keep you (and your partner) at the right temperature each and every night.


 Don’t miss the April showers protein sale !!

dietSave 20, 15, or 10% off your first purchase of Paleo Power, Your Whey, or Plant Power with these codes:

20paleo, 15whey, 10plant

Summer’s around the corner! Flip 50 lean! [ends when April does]

Thanks for being a Flipping 50 reader!


fitness questions after 50

I’m tacking your biggest fitness questions in this post!

Fitness questions you’re asking or should ask!

Midlife fitness is like a mystery novel. You think you’ve got it figured out and then a new twist in the plot changes things. In the most recent selection process for Flipping 50 TV season III I had the challenging task of choosing which questions to use and which I had to turn down.

Instead of sending these questions to fade into the sunset until next season I couldn’t resist offering some answers here. Ultimately, I’d like to help every single one of you. I can’t possibly do that of course with a full schedule of private clients and group programs. But I did the best I could choosing from the list for this post. I’ll be popping into Facebook for some live Q and A too.

These questions were common asks from the questions submitted at so my hope is those asking are getting help, and so are you.

What is body composition?

“What’s that?”

That’s what I hear too often when I ask a woman 50 or 60 what her body composition is. Body composition tells you how much fat and how much lean muscle (and bone) you have.

If you’re 135 pounds and you have 22% body fat you can fit into jeans much smaller than if you’re 135 pounds and 35% body fat.

Now, that is not the goal or a measure of great success. But you do get the idea, right. That 135 pounds and 22% body fat gal is actively making her happy way through her day with energy and vitality. She’s enjoying meals she loves, movement with less effort, and most likely got a good shape and proportions. She’s probably lifting weights religiously twice a week.

That 135-pound woman with a 35% body fat is classified as “obese.” It starts at 29 or 30% fat depending on which guidelines you’re using. More importantly, she’s gaining weight easier because she’s got less muscle to burn energy, and over time she’ll put on a few pounds a year. She’s potentially spending time doing a lot of cardio when she starts an exercise program. She’s tired much of the time. She’s eating less and less to try to lose weight.

This question is king (queen, if you prefer) of fitness questions. If you don’t know this, nothing else matters.

Why does body composition matter?

If I ask a woman 50, 60, or older how much she weighs, and she knows.

Here’s the problem. If you are assessing your success or failures by the scale (and worse if you’re doing it by multiple scales) and have no idea what makes that number up, you could be getting fatter even while you’re losing weight.


You could be getting fatter not fitter while you’re losing weight. Lean muscle tissues is metabolically active. In other words, if you want a faster metabolism, so that you can eat good food, operate with energy, do things you love, and digest well, you want to keep lean muscle.

One of the biggest fitness questions YOU should be asking, is what is my percent body fat? [This is another way to say body composition.]

With age it CAN, it is not mandatory or a “normal” process of aging, be easier to lose muscle than keep or gain it. If you are not lifting weights – appropriately – for the sole purpose of keeping lean muscle you are very likely to have less now than you did at 25, when your lean muscle peaked.

So when you lose weight you lose a percent of muscle along with fat. You can keep that number low (and then offset it with the right kind of exercise) or you could lose as much as 50% muscle weight.

The only way you know what is happening is by getting it measured.

 Where and how can you get body composition measured?

If you ever buy another bathroom scale, don’t buy one without a body fat analyzer in it! It’s that simple and really cost effective. It’s a smart (and small) investment. If you are exercising, or working with a trainer, or me even, you don’t know what you’re doing is even effective without measuring this! It’s a way to validate your time, money, and energy.

Almost any fitness center, parks & rec, personal trainer doing business can do this within minutes. There may be a nominal fee if you do it somewhere you’re not a member or with a trainer you’re not working with regularly.

Hospitals, dietitians, or your doctor may also be able to do this. If you have a dexa scan for bone density they can often tell you body composition if you ask.

The scale in your local fitness center locker room may very well have the ability to measure body composition, too.

I’d love you to add to the comments where you’re doing this regularly. And use the comments as your accountability to yourself for where you’re going to get it done if you haven’t!! Make a phone call today, or stop at your favorite “everything” store and pick up a scale.

Last, fitness questions sometimes reveal confusion. This is the case with body composition AND weight both. Don’t panic if you have two very different measures on different tools. Stop using more than one. You want to measure change and you can’t do that comparing apples to oranges.

fitness questions for midlifeShould I be doing more cardio?

For women, fitness questions almost always start with, should I do more? Truly 7/10 women are doing too much when they do anything. So yes you need to be more active but not necessarily with more intensity or effort.

I’m going to say probably not. Most women do plenty. If you have 1-2 times a week of interval training for 20-30 minutes, and you’re getting a lot of daily movement – not necessarily cardio – and a good long walk or outdoor activity (I’m headed out for a 1-2 hour hike in a bit- it’s finally 70 degrees!!) then you’re covered. “Burning calories” with cardio is not going to help balance your hormones. You many need FAR LESS cardio and more strength training and more REST and better food.

Here’s the line that I hear way too often:

“I’m exercising like crazy and barely eating and still not losing weight.”


These things are the problem and mistakenly too many of us are living in the 80’s with the belief you can burn more, and eat less

What do I eat before working out early morning?

I love fitness questions like this, because this matters so much!

It depends. Before high intensity interval training I eat some carbs and some protein/fat. Before long hikes, low intensity work I eat very little and what I do eat is fat. It’s all about the preference of your body and what it need for fuel in order to have the best possible workout AND outcome.

I’d rather burn fat most of the time – how about you? So these two formulas make the most sense. The higher intensity you’re able to work at during HIIT, the more fat you will burn. The more you use fat for fuel and force your body to dip into fat stores (hello toned legs, goodbye jiggle) the better your results.

A pre-HIIT snack may be sun butter on a hearty (I don’t do empty cardboard rice cakes) rice cake, or a half a banana with almond butter.

Before weight training my snack might be a simple smoothie (protein powder and almond milk), or sunflower seeds, or ¼ an avocado.

If I’m hiking… nothing unless I’m hungry and then its nuts, seeds. Longer hikes – 2-3 hours I’ll take a small packet of the same.

On a higher intensity longer bike ride I’ll bring Lara bars for snacks. Not a ton of carbs – but some – and all natural.

This is a whole new way to think about what to eat before exercise for most women. Different activities require different fuel.

What do you do when traveling without a blender for the AM smoothie?

Seriously, I am not above packing a hot water maker for coffee and a Nutribullet. Carry-on’s make it easy to be sure my ‘bullet is safe. And insulated soft coolers allow me to bring small amounts of fresh food along too.

Regulations change making this not always doable and frankly, I can’t keep up, but I do take my ride to the grocery store and then to the hotel when I arrive. What you put into your mouth is your energy or your crash. I don’t have time for the latter, do you?

Yes, takes a little effort, a little shoe space, and some getting used to but there is nothing better than leaving home AND getting back home feeling equally good. I would never think, “I’m on vacation, I’m just going to eat what I want.” I want to feel good when I’m on vacation and when I get home from vacation. And I don’t want to ever feel like I have to “get ready for vacation.”

It’s just easier to eat well, and exercise well, all the time and feel good all the time.

Now, for you! Please share your biggest fitness questions. We’ve just completed filming season III of Flipping 50 so it won’t be immediately that I film again. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you here right on the blog or in Facebook about what you need answers to!

P.S. The link to NutriBullet includes $20 savings, and up to $15 off your shipping depending on where you are in the world. I do receive a small commission if you use the Flipping 50 link – just want you to know!

P.P.S. I depend on you to share the Flipping 50 word! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and sharing content that you find helpful with your friends, sisters, moms, trainers, and clients. It takes a village! Thanks for being a part!

Pardon the rant in this post. I received this message in an email from a client who’d recently had a consult with a Registered Dietitian at a fitness club:

“I recently had a session with a new RD at XXXX.  She stated that she did not believe most Americans do not get enough protein, rather the reverse.  She thought many get too much.  When I questioned her, she backed down a bit and said many younger people get too much.  What do you think about that?”

I’m steaming.

That’s what I think about that.

The woman who sent me the email was close to 70. Yes, she’s lifted weights for years. However, yes she’s had cancer, surgeries requiring periods of rest, and meds that deplete protein that combined with her age suggest she does not have room for indecisive support.

“She backed down… ”

What does that mean?

Does that mean for every client that doesn’t ask a follow up question they leave with a top-of-the-head impulse recommendation from a registered dietitian… instead of a logical assessment and application of science?

At first glance, the registered dietitian didn’t use a scientific basis to make the statement. I’m left to believe that in her late twenties at best (and I’m not sure she’s even there yet, she has not had a lot of repetition (certainly not the 10,000 hours that it takes doing one thing that it takes to be an expert) with clients to make a valid statement based on her experience with private clients.

It’s also up for discussion, what the Registered Dietitian in this equation qualifies as “enough.” In fact, this is the entire discussion. An older client with more life experience who has read more articles and hired more fitness and health experts than the dietitian could have accessed in her limited education and work experience could cause a change of belief (and that in itself is a problem) of a young dietitian in seconds. That’s cause for concern.

It’s also a sign of our times. Most adults are confused and sensing the current RDA “norms” are incongruent with current programs and diets. Many contemporary programs are built based on science. Many are not. As with product or service there is a continuum. There will be copycat programs and services that jump on in order to market and make a product that will sell without a basis that supports what, why, and how it works. A promise of weight loss, fat loss, and or a fast metabolism in days or weeks is very attractive and it sells.

Unfortunately, if it doesn’t teach a foundation of good health and eating habits that changes your long term behavior, it’s not a program, it’s a temporary diet. One of our problems is that we continue to look to external sources, like a Registered Dietitian, for answers. At this point many of those answers are available to us in seconds.

I frequently hear, and sadly, even women’s hormone health “experts” talk about their own experience when they were doing “Whole 30” or when they ate Paleo and it’s clear that this was a period of “dieting” that they now are “off.” It is important to remember that behind every registered dietitian, personal training, or health coach certification, degree, or license is a professional with her own emotions and journey. It’s hard not to allow that to influence their advice.

In You Still Got It, Girl I discussed the fact that any diet you go “on” has an “off” ramp. When you’re moving from diet to diet, long-term change and a positive relationship with food that’s good for you is out of reach. Diets are like holidays that comes a few times a year with excitement about possibility and all decorated and pretty. The rest of the year you struggle with the day-to-day consistency and never find your own high energy that comes from adopting to a new lifestyle.

You’re looking for what you should do instead of who you should be. Sound familiar?

registered dietitian alternative

Most American adults know protein is important: 90% of them admit they don’t know how much they need.

How can there be any hope for a clear recommendation under these circumstances?

Here’s the truth about science that’s been publicly acknowledged since at least 2008 (and likely in existence before that). The RDAs and recommendations for more protein taken in at each meal in a user-friendly way are not at odds. They are actually very similar and compatible. It requires a small amount of math. registered dietitian protein book I’m including an excerpt from my short PDF book, The Protein Report. If you’re confused about how much protein you need this short protein report will be extremely valuable to you. Even this brief excerpt will provide some insight.

First, I want to make it clear why I have such a stake in this. Whether it’s me or it’s personal trainers I mentor with attempting to support a client in reaching goals, we simply can’t without the right fuel behind the goal. I personally can’t live day to day in a high-energy and optimal weight, thought, and body composition without the right nutrition.

We’ve seen clearly what happens when decade after decade adults fail to reach their nutritional quota. Frailty and or obesity seem to be the norm still today even though we have answers. We can’t expect to solve problems with exercise not supported with the right nutrition and lifestyle habits in the second half.

I also find no fault with any specific Registered Dietitian. They too have their hands tied until they find their own voice. I do believe however that the time has come when we have to have more functional nutrition recommendations and acknowledge that no one set of standards fits every individual need. We have far too many hormone, metabolism, body composition, and socialization differences. We have life situations and conditions that change our need from one year to the next. Just as exercise has emerged into a personal, functional approach, so too does nutrition have to and is available to you if you look.

Excerpt From The Protein Report:

In the U.S., the current recommendation is for 0.8 grams of protein daily for each kilogram of your body weight, or 0.36 g/pound. That’s about 71 grams a day for the average 196-pound U.S. man, or 60 grams for the average 166-pound U.S. woman. (These are current average weights in America). The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) provides numerous obstacles.

There is an increased range suggested by sports nutritionists of up to 1.2gms/gm body weight for body builders and often for endurance athletes and rapidly growing adolescents as well.

As more health experts (registered dietitians, nutritionists, fitness professionals, health coaches) move away from calorie counting and encourage focus on high quality foods with high nutrient density this entire system becomes obsolete and contradictory. As our nation has gotten fatter over the last three decades it is obvious that calorie restriction and the old calorie-in and calorie-out concept is indeed a myth.

“The old calorie-in and calorie-out concept is indeed a myth.”

So with our current recommended protein intake range of 10-35%, the average American eats about 15% protein. Popular diets including Atkins diet (not the same name, and no, no relation!) promoted protein intakes of 60%. A protein intake of 35% is still within the dietary percentages recommended yet, is more than double for most Americans. Can you see the dilemma here in using the term “high protein” diet? It’s relative to what you’re taking in now. If you’re one of those at 15% now, increasing to 33% will be “higher” but not necessarily a “high protein diet.” It could be said that most Americans currently eat a “low” protein diet.

[End of the book excerpt]

Let’s do the math on a recommendation of 20-30 grams of protein per three meals a day. (included more in depth in the report)

For that 166 lb. woman ingesting 1.2 grams of protein/kg of body weight a day = 166 lbs. is 75.45 Kg

(providing you with the high end of the range that, by the way is also recommended for older, frail, and sedentary adults) 1.2 gm protein x 75.45 Kg = 90.5 grams of protein

A corresponding more user-friendly recommendation of 3 meals a day of 20-30 grams of protein at each meal means 60-90 grams.

Or what if we use 35% of a 2000 kcal diet. That’s 700 kcals total. Since protein has 4 kcals per gram that equals 175 grams of protein. That’s a lot! That is within RDA recommendations. That’s far higher than most are consuming, and though it may be appropriate for those who are weak, frail, seeking weight loss, without any renal issues (addressed in the PDF), it isn’t necessary for most. But, it IS within RDA recommendations. It’s higher than I’ve ever personally consumed in a day, I’m sure of it, whether I was on the couch for weeks with mono in my teens or training for an Ironman distance triathlon at 53.

Based on the above math and real life example, Registered Dietitians, who in many states are believed to be the best source of nutrition information and who insurance has deemed as the only covered source of nutrition advice, aren’t always providing their own education-based recommendations. Opinion is not a good basis for professional advice unless it’s based on evidence from thousands of either client outcomes or a research study reviews.

At this point, there’s still a problem, right? The answer is you.

A Registered Dietitian and You

No one can make you eat in a certain way.

If you hire a plumber or carpenter the outcome from the service is only as good as that professional. If you hire a doctor, a personal trainer, or a nutritionist, the outcome is dependent both on the professional AND on you carrying out the action items recommended to you. There are two places then where the system can breakdown.

One problem I see on the inconsistent nutrition-information-train is no one is doing math. Registered Dietitian, or you or I, we seem only to be adding calories or trying to subtract them. There is little support for you in determining the right amount to have at each meal. That alone would simplify things considerably. In Flipping 50’s 28-Day kickstart (and Fit-U programs (for those with more than 20 pounds to lose) I coach to aim for grams per meal and the most frequently asked questions are about what good sources of protein are… we’ve some how reached our mid life eating three times a day without knowing.

So that is an easy fix.

You can easily understand how much protein is in a chicken breast (4 oz is about 25-27 grams). You can read a label and enjoy your breakfast smoothie, and post-exercise protein (to avoid muscle breakdown if you’re struggling with weight loss or muscle gain). You can clearly understand if you have a gap between need and reality whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a flat-out carnivore. The bottom line for a woman (or man) over 50 is that protein (and adequate calories, the right micronutrient intake from food first, and supplements to fill in the gaps) is required to prevent muscle loss from aging, and from exercise.

These things cause muscles loss:

  1. aging
  2. exercise
  3. insufficient calories and or protein

If you lose muscle (and no it is not inevitable with age it simply requires more focus to avoid it), you will by default be fatter. If you have not been resistance training (with adequate stimulus) muscle loss averages a half-pound a year.

Yes, exercise is muscle breakdown activity. The rebuilding happens between sessions. It requires rest, adequate overall calories, and adequate protein to keep muscle and or build it. These three things are all equally important. It is not unusual to see either a frail older adult or an overweight adult over 50 who exercise vigorously regularly. In many cases (after far more than 10,000 repetitions) both the frail and the obese adult are not eating enough calories or protein or not resting enough between had sessions. If those are improved, sleep – the queen of rest is not adequate. Once you meet your needs? Success.

Your Next Step?

Read on only if you want support.

If you are struggling with what to eat, how much to eat, or following some food “theories”… your next step is not another “diet.” It is finding a dietary lifestyle you can live with, thrive on, that removes counting calories, points, or steps, and that allows you to have a relationship with food AND exercise for energy, and pleasure, that you can continue for life.

“have a relationship with food AND exercise for energy, and pleasure, that you can continue for life”

If you’re comparing yourself to your friends and your colleagues, or you’re basing what you should do 100% on a lab test that tells you what you’re sensitive to but it’s not working? Then take this next step and spend a 28 days with me identifying your high energy habits.

(I’m all for lab testing: I do it, I’ve ordered them and interpreted them for myself since 2013 and you can too but I also listen to the testing that happens in my kitchen and at my dining room table far more: you and I are not lab rats. We have emotions around what we eat too.)

This program and me as a coach are for you if you’re done with dieting and you’re ready to move from a struggle to more flow about your health habits. You’re ready to let your body and energy tell you what’s right. I am not a Registered Dietitian nor a nutritionist. I am a researcher and a hormone & exercise, and optimal aging expert who does her homework. I provide you with facts and a blueprint. We co-collaborate from there.

I am not for you if you want to do something for 28 days and then “go back to normal” eating and habits. It’s not for you if you love to struggle and you want to stay right where you are jumping around looking for the magic bullet. (You already have the magic, tap your shoes Dorothy.)

I would love to hear from you. What are your questions on your nutrition and specifically protein needs after 50?

Carb cycling is one of those buzz phrases that could confuse you. In this post, I answer these questions:

Still curious or want a conversation? I’m going live on Facebook Friday, June 16th at noon MT to chat more about it and how it might hurt or help your exercise results. Reading this after the fact? The recordings are always there after – just click videos when you arrive on the page. (Hint: if you like the page, when I do go live, you’ll see notifications so you can join if it’s convenient)

bag of potatoesShould you try carb cycling?

It depends. If you’ve tried everything else, and you have a sound lifestyle diet that you’ve designed together with a fitness and nutrition expert based on you, it might be time to try. For those with blood sugar issues, known diabetes, or other conditions including disordered eating, check with your physician about whether it is appropriate for you.

What is carb cycling?

Carb cycling is restricting the amount of carbohydrates consumed temporarily. Temporarily is key. There are specific times for increasing the amount of carbohydrate consumption. These times of increased carb intake help prevent the body from slowing the metabolism by dropping carbs, which often creates a calorie deficit, too low. If you eat less, your body will burn less. A slow metabolism doesn’t help the overall goal of decreasing fat stores by burning them.

When you hear a body builder or chronic dieter talk about “cheat days, ” carb cycling is often, but not always a part of it. There is a wide range of ways to apply carb cycling. One of the biggest errors made in having “cheat days” is that these are often really just “binges” without attention to the quality of food eaten.

A lack of conscious decision about what to eat suggests there’s no real behavior change. Actual carb cycling includes quality sources of carbohydrates eaten in greater amounts at certain times and cycling downward for a lower intake at others. Carb cycling is not accidental but purposefully planned.

Why do people try carb cycling?

Most likely candidates have tried everything! You may be reading this for that reason. Body builders who want longevity and better health most often have carb cycling built into their training regime otherwise chronically (extreme) low dietary intake of carbohydrates can cause fatigue and increase cortisol due to the stress on the body. I’m hinting already at some cons I’ll include more on later.

Getting “bulky” with weight training? May be your carbs or overall intake is too high. You’re compensating. Scheduling your days would be very important if you were to use carb cycling. Then sticking to them is even more important! Here’s an example of a six day rotation.

Day    1         2         3         4         5         6

Low   low    mod   low     low     higher

What are the pros and cons of carb cycling?

Read into this heading question or anything you read here on, for women going through hormone changes. Short term for most people, there’s no scientific proof of damage and there is some proof there is positive response in heart disease risk reduction.

Beginning exercisers with significant amounts of weight to lose (more than 20 pounds) may be put on this kind of a “diet” during initial stages of exercise. Often exercisers, or their trainers, start with the idea of losing fat first and then regaining muscle. Unfortunately, for women in midlife who are more susceptible to negative effects of stress (cortisol), this calorie deficit that can put the body into starvation mode, can backfire and result in the exact opposite of the goal:

As a result of long-term carbohydrate and calorie restriction, dieters may experience reduced:

Reducing carbohydrates (if protein and fat are kept the same) reduces over all calories or energy. That has consequences. Eat less and you tell the body to burn less.

I’ve watched university students and employees (personal trainers) go through training for body building competitions. Sadly, I’ve watched them attempt to apply their own training and diet methods to women in midlife who have no desire to stand on stage and flex for a few moments but who do want all day energy and better legs, arms, and abs (these do not take extremes)! Those are reasonable goals and there is a safe, sane, simpler way to get there.

Here’s what I noticed about these women training for on-stage presence at figure competitions. They would workout hard at the crack of dawn, between training sessions, and/or often again in the evening, then spend the afternoon napping at the pool, exhausted instead of interacting with their children, or sneaking home between their training sessions to take naps. That’s the reference above to “reduced spontaneous physical activity.” These women get less active in their normal daily lives as they get more active in the gym and running off fat.

The Flipping 50 Approach to Exercise

Here’s where you and I may differ in our opinion of the purpose of exercise and diet. I want, and want for my clients, MORE active lives. Not better workouts or a few minutes on stage that required hours weekly, if not daily, to get there and severe diet restriction that can’t be maintained if you want your health, but better every day all day and pleasure from food that doesn’t have to be measured and weighed or require entering each and every bite into an app.

I completely advocate a whole body 2-3 times a week strength training routine for the best metabolism boost in the least amount of time for my clients. I don’t work with women who have or want to spend hours in the gym doing a “split routine” that requires a daily commitment to the gym and weight lifting. I have not met very many women who have that kind of time!

I advocate using the body in integrated exercises not isolated exercises. With the exception of working on your weak links and preventing injury or rehabbing from one, whole body exercise is safe, sane, and efficient and you are not co-dependent on an exercise routine or a slave to the gym.

Better midlife, metabolism comes from major muscle groups and intensity. You do not need more stress and more time sucked from enjoyment of life. Life happens outside the gym.

I digress!

Though I’ve taken a little detour, it is very worth mentioning this exercise philosophy because carb cycling is so often tied to it. I am all for the long term sustainability of any exercise plan. You may want to try body building or figure competition as a hobby and if that’s your goal, I’m all for that too, provided you enter with caution into diet practices that don’t negatively impact you. I don’t want you to be sorry you’ve begun something that will lead to a need to retrain your metabolism when you return to “normal.” Some of the traditional weight lifting and diet habits of the “sport” of figure competition are distinctly in opposition to hormone balance. [Next week I’m going to do a reveal for you about an “extreme” goal I’m taking on this year and how I’m going to bring you along for training and hormone updates. In a sense, I’m going to throw myself under the bus for you.]

Let me give you even more detail of the cons of extreme carb cycling

When you get into “starvation mode” with fasting:

To stop the doom and gloom I may be spreading, there are some pros.

The good news about carb cycling:

Catabolism…muscles losses are minimized initially (protein loss is spared). It’s here though that there is possible danger. You need to make sure that you have the adequate amount of protein and don’t allow calories to drop too low. In my experience, it is so easy for women, even who have not formally had disordered eating, to have dysfunctional eating. It’s all too easy to let this spiral downward.

brown rice and salmon How do I start if I want to try carb cycling?

Carb cycling really has a continuum. You don’t have to go to extremes. Take the following variations for example:

[Carb cycling is simplified by assuming there are higher carbohydrate days]

Of all of these, the one I use with my midlife female clients is the least challenging to implement. That is, the change of carbohydrate consumption at meals throughout the day. The hardest thing about this for most women is unlearning habits from information that has suggested they should stop eating carbs at night. Almost 99% of women I work with do better in terms of weight loss, sleep, and increased energy for morning exercise by shifting quality carb intake to be higher at the evening meal. (That doesn’t mean bring on the bread basket).

Keep in mind with carb cycling over weeks and months, increasing carbs is best when physical activity is higher. Some will also say earlier in the day, however this may not serve you if you’re a female between 45 and 65.

Last words

Carb cycling isn’t a “pig out” and it needs to be planned. Otherwise it can backfire and result in fat storage increase. Your choices should still be low glycemic index carbs, high nutrient-dense resistant starch options.

Have you tried carb cycling? What questions do you still have about it?

Douyon L, Schteingart DE. Effect of obesity and starvation on thyroid hormone, growth hormone, and cortisol secretion. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 2002;31:173-189.
de Rosa G, et al. Thyroid function in altered nutritional state. Exp Clin Endocrinol 1983;82:173-177.
Kozusko FP. Body weight setpoint, metabolic adaption and human starvation. Bull Math Biol 2001;63:393-403.
Dulloo AG, Jacquet J. Adaptive reduction in basal metabolic rate in response to food deprivation in humans: a role for feedback signals from fat stores. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68:599-606.

One of the best ways to try carb cycling safely is take the first step with the 28 Day Kickstart banner with black text

You can combine that with a special upgrade to private coaching available exclusively to group program members.

Kill cravings. Sounds easy and yet if you experience them, it’s anything but. Use these tricks. They’ll get to the heart of physiological cravings. If you’re upset with someone or hating your job and that’s causing your stress-driven cravings, they may help less, but could give you the foundation for making better decisions about what to do about it!

  1. Increase your protein and fiber.

Increased fiber intake can kill cravings, especially soluble fiber, can help if portion control is an issue. Studies with greater fiber there is decreased food intake and increased body fat loss voluntarily. The protein helps retain lean muscle even during weight loss, which is important if you’re over 50 so you can keep the metabolism elevated.

Increase your fiber intake by including both soluble fiber from veggies and skins of fruit like apples that keep you full, and insoluble sources like oats, beans, and legumes, which help with elimination.

In fact, up to 50 grams a day can boost your weight loss without you having to starve, especially if you have significant amount of weight to lose. Increase gradually to avoid discomfort.

Flip: Add veggies to smoothies, and fill your plate with them. Start there. Then add chia seeds, hemp hearts, or ground flax seeds to salads and smoothies. 

  1. Do 6 minutes of exercise before lunch.

A little bit of movement goes a long ways to kill cravings. If you’ve been sitting at your desk all morning, even if your stomach is growling, take 10 before you eat. Research shows as little as six minutes of exercise within 30 minutes of lunch made subjects choose healthier and lower calorie options. This reduced appetite is related to higher intensity exercise. Moderate to low activity does not have the same appetite suppression and can increase appetite.

Flip: Pick a hill near your house and power up it for a minute. Recover down and repeat a total of six times. Alternatively, hop on your treadmill or tackle the stairs in your office building for a minute six times.

  1. Get quality pillow time.

If you’re short on sleep you’ll be long on cravings thanks to cortisol. Just a single night of poor sleep can make you vulnerable, so if you’re sleepless more often you’re definitely going to have to battle snack attacks. Kill cravings with some simple habit changes.

Flip: Create a bedtime and nighttime routine that helps you relax and keep the same schedule seven days a week. Try the Bedtime app on your phone.

  1. Stay hydrated.

The same cortisol hormone that causes cravings due to sleep deprivation will be released if you stress your system by giving it too little water. Drinking more water doesn’t make you a fat burner, but the lack of water can halt fat metabolism and make you a fat packer. Do yourself a simple (easy and economical) fat-burning favor and drink up on pure filtered water.

Flip: Make your water more appealing with one of these…







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