Kickstart your summer with a few of my best health & fitness guides.
Looking for health & fitness recommendations that are made for you, and only you?
Are you done with the one-size-fits all ages, sizes, and both genders approach?
You’re in the right place. I’ve designed several health & fitness guides to help with some of the biggest problems (more on that below) women face. Whether you’re seeking exercise advice, energy answers, want to solve menopause mysteries, or love your libido again… Flipping 50 is made for you.
These are a collection of the best blogs compiled into “guides” for a quicker-than-a-book yet comprehensive look into topics you- blogand book readers, and Flipping 50 podcastlisteners, Flipping 50 TVviewers –have expressed the most interest in.
Skip right down to the guides and get started. I’ll imagine you on a lounge chair with a big brimmed hat and a drink with a little umbrella facing the ocean while you read.
I’m 55 in the boat rowing with you. I’ve observed aging fitness professionals, aging athletes, less active folks who float in and out of exercise, and enthusiasts that either accelerate or slow aging. After 35 years of research, observations, and applications I’ve got the after 50 fitness formula for women.
The fact is your hormones, metabolism, body composition, socialization, are different.
They’re different from younger women.
They’re different from younger, older, or same age men.
Yet, just 39% of all sports medicine and exercise research features female subjects. No matter how many times I say or write this it astounds me. At the rate of women turning 75, 65, and 55 (baby boomers at this minute, Gen Xers soon) that’s absurd.
The only thing you can do about it right now is demand that fitness programs, trainers, and health coaches use THAT sliver of research for you.
You have to ask.
or demand. There’s a little too much paying for a group approach from a private personal trainer going on with personal training services for my taste today. Don’t mistake “a personal trainer” for a “good personal trainer.” There are good ones but you’ve got to know what to ask.
At Flipping 50 working with women in perimenopause and beyond is all we do. Every day. I’m not a doctor pretending to diagnose. I wouldn’t expect a doctor to suggest training protocols for you either. Ideally we work together. As a Medical Exercise Specialist and Hormone Balancing Fitness Expert I rely on physicians in functional medicine and on physical therapists to support my clients. A team approach eliminates you running from one to the next trying to pull that together yourself. As a health coach I support your lab interpretation so you have the right questions to ask and next steps to pursue.
Once you cross the threshold of perimenopause, you go through the biggest changes. It’s why “flipping 50” is for and about women in their late 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.
When women ask, what about 60? I know I’ve not communicated Flipping 50’s mission clearly to you. Don’t misunderstand Flipping 50 to mean this is for a 50-year old. It’s NOT. The biggest changes occur both mentally and physically when a woman hits 50. It’s not about age though really it’s about phase. How you show up and how you see yourself matters.
not all women gain weight with menopause and those who don’t are not just “lucky”
not all women get hot flashes and night sweats
not all women have their libido crash (it’s actually better after for some of us)
not all women get that belly fat just because of menopause (let’s check in with your eating, your wine, your sleep and your exercise before we point a finger at some mystery menopause bs)
Yes, things change. Yes, you’ll have to change the strategy. Guess what? If you’re a woman in her 30s or 40s and you change NOW… YOU will flip 50 so much better. You’re going to get here. Ready or not. Your needs are slightly different than a women in perimenopause (and beyond) but you can prepare to sail through it more easily.
Sure all women have estrogen, progesterone fluctuations from the time they hit menses to post menopause. But in perimenopause and menopause it’s very different. If feels unpredictable. If you listen to what your body is telling you, rely on your own changes and not a pill, shot or cream (though you might decide, hey you want some support), you can change the way you feel. The daily choices you make matter.
After menopause, don’t think you’re out of the woods. The hormone fluctuations that dictate health are not the same as when you were wired for reproduction but hormones are still calling the shots. Your mood, energy, sleep, appetite, bones, muscles… you get the idea? Pretty much everything is dependent on hormones ‘til death do us part.
Before you jump into activity because an article said it’s good read the study. Research subjects should be in perimenopause, menopause, or beyond if you’re to take an announcement like, “New study says HIIT is the best for burning fat” seriously. That’s just one example of media-hyped and overgeneralized studies that could sabotage you.[The real news is injury rates have gone up 144% since the introduction of HIIT as a household word and regular workout “thing.” In real application, if HIIT is done longer and more frequently in a midlife woman already experiencing stress and fatigue, adrenal stress can make her storemore fat rather than lose it.]
If you’re still reading, naturally you want to dig into fact about YOU, proven practices for YOU, and I’ve got it below. Choose the topic that’s the biggest source of confusion right now and match it to the guide I’ve created.
Plus, I’d love your help. Is there another topic you want more information on? Share it in the comments below this post. I’m listening.
Jump to the guide that speaks to you or consume them all!
Has menopause caused weight gain and or belly fat? Of all my health & fitness guides this one gets under the hood of deceptive lie you’ve been led to believe about menopause belly fat. Hint: it isn’t inevitable. I say menopause and weight gain & belly fat are headed for a divorce.
Confused about whether food or smoothies are best? What kind of protein is right for you? Or how to know if your protein has toxins in it sabotaging your fat burning and in fact making you store more fat? This is the best of health & fitness guides for you.
Do you know – or need to – that your recovery from exercise is MORE important than your exercise?
Truth. But it doesn’t mean lying on the couch eating grapes (or sipping smoothies). Not that a modern woman has time to do that. Or will let herself do it if she did.
There isan art to recovery. Recovery starts even before and for sure during your workout. Between sets, some say even repetitions. Then there’s the between workouts and weeks or months of workouts. But how? What does it really look like? How do you know if you are or you’re not? It’s in this, my most recent of health & fitness guides.
This is the conundrum for many of my Flipping 50 students and clients. So often the very thing you’re told repeatedly to do for metabolism can hurt or leave you paying for it for days after.
In this guide, an episode of Flipping 50 TV I give you specific reasons these exercise might hurt, tips for changing your technique to see if you can be more comfortable, and alternatives that work instead if you need them. No matter which category you’re in, I’ve got you covered.
Helpful? I hope so! I’d love to hear from you! Comment below!
Would you like more support? I have programs specifically for exercise, and more comprehensive ones to help you really get the whole “formula” since it takes “a village” more and less.
Browse exercise here. My top pick? STRONGER 12-week programs
20 or more pounds to lose? Fat loss after 50 is unique. I pulled all the science together for you.
It takes a more comprehensive, whole-istic approach to lifestyle habits than just exercise alone can give you. And, it takes less exercise once you know which exercise is right for results.
If you love exercise, I get you. I’ll help you determine where to set your activity and recovery levels so you can do what you love, feel the way you love, and get the results you love.
If you prefer to have one-on-one coaching, you can start with 90-day or do a 6-month coaching package. More details here.
10 Studies: Protein Intake and Strength Training After 50
Protein intake and strength training together are your dynamic duo for aging and loving it.
1) Protein was the determining factor when high or low carbohydrate intake did n’t have an impact on successful aging. “Successful” was determined by an integrated rating of social, physical, and mental performance.
2) In a 2018 review of literature of protein intake influence on aging researchers reported: “Currently recommended protein intake for aging adults may not be sufficient for muscle mass and strength maintenance.
To minimize the adverse health and environmental effects of excess animal protein consumption, incorporation of sustainably sourced plant proteins may be a promising strategy.”
I’ll link to previous conversations about the animal and plant protein dilemma.
3) Very high protein intake (≥1.2 g/kg/day) and high protein intake (≥1.0 g/kg/day) groups showed better lower limb physical functioning and walking speed (WS) performance in comparison to individuals who present relative low protein (<0.80 g/kg/day) intake.
4) Women below the higher RDA protein threshold had a significantly (p < 0.05) higher likelihood of having physical limitations (compared to higher RDA threshold). Additionally, they had significant differences in muscle mass.
In conclusion, the present study supports the RDA threshold of 0.8 g·kg-1 BW of proteins to prevent the loss of muscle mass and emphasizes the importance of the higher RDA threshold of at least 1.1 g·kg-1 BW to infer additional benefits on constructs of physical function.
This study also supports the role of protein intake for healthy aging, even in older adults meeting guidelines for physical activity. (Several studies point to protein needs increasing for sedentary and frail older adults).
5) Physical inactivity and inadequate nutrition (undereating or overeating the wrong things) accelerate age-related decrease in muscle mass and strength. The good news is that this status is subject to modification.
Physical activity/exercise guidelines need to make specific reference to resistance exercise and highlight the benefits of higher-intensity aerobic exercise training, alongside advocating older adults perform aerobic-based physical activity and household tasks (e.g., carrying groceries).
In terms of dietary recommendations, greater emphasis should be placed on optimal rather than minimum protein intake for older adults.
Guidelines that endorse a daily protein intake of 1.2-1.5 g/kg BM/day, which are levels 50-90% greater than the current protein Recommendation Dietary Allowance (0.8 g/kg BM/day), are likely to help preserve muscle mass and strength and are safe for healthy older adults.
Increasing the proportion of leucine contained in a given dose of protein, co-ingesting other nutrients (e.g., carbohydrate and fat or supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) or being physically active prior to protein intake. These things are known to enhance muscle protein synthesis.
Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis:
What does 1.5 g/kg equal?
125 lbs = 57 kg
85 gm protein
28.5 gm protein
150 lbs = 68 kg
102 gm protein
34 grams per meal
6) Minerals may be important nutrients to prevent and/or treat sarcopenia (significant muscle loss). Particularly, magnesium, selenium, and calcium seem to be most promising.
7) An increasing body of experimental studies on skeletal muscle protein metabolism as well as epidemiological data suggest that protein requirements with aging might be greater than many current dietary recommendations.
Studies that compared muscle protein synthetic (MPS) responses to protein ingestion in young and old adults suggest that a higher relative protein intake is required to maximally stimulate skeletal muscle MPS in the aged oldest old (85+).
Regular physical activity may preserve and even enhance the responsiveness of aging skeletal muscle to protein intake, until very advanced age. Message? Keep exercising in order to keep protein synthesis optimal and stay youthful.
8) Studies investigated a total of 50,284 older adults from three different continents between 2006 and 2018. Four cross-sectional studies were included in the meta-analyses. The results demonstrated that a high protein intake was negatively associated with frailty status in older adults.
A distribution of protein intake spread evening over the main meals is better associated with gait speed than relative protein intake – aka it is NOT about how much per day but how much at every meal.
The study found frequent consumption of meals containing at least 30 g of protein was associated with greater lean mass and lower-limb muscle strength in middle-aged and older adults. Read: greater lean mass = lower body fat.
9) Another study found that more frequent consumption of meals containing between 30 and 45 g protein/meal produced the greatest association with leg lean mass and strength. Thus, the consumption of 1-2 daily meals with protein content from 30 to 45 g may be an important strategy for increasing and/or maintaining lean body mass and muscle strength with aging.
10) Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) and frequency of protein consumption of ⩾30 g of protein per meal were independently associated with lower extremity lean mass and strength.
Study subjects had protein intake of at least 2 meals a day of 30 + grams of protein.
If you’re seeing this on iTunes or YouTube or where you get podcasts, visit the show notes at
One of the most commonly overlooked parts of fitness after 50 is protein. Strength training is crucial, yet misunderstanding protein recommendations after 50 can sabotage strength training results. Why is it so very confusing to find and follow protein recommendations after 50?
I crack open this question in this post. I leave you with the research I’ve done since 2013 focused on protein recommendations after 50. In spite of good persuasive arguments in several directions I’ve chosen one.
Both in primary research and personal research [I’ve tested the results of different diets with a stable set of activity and lifestyle habits on myself], and the observations I’ve made over 35 years of working with older adults, I’ve witnessed a similar outcomes. That is, some groups will continue to follow and believe one method, others follow other diets, the real outcome will be best visible in body composition and signs of aging in the 8th or 9th decade of life. There is either more disease, more vibrancy, or more frailty present. Usually the signs of optimal metabolism, body composition, and hormone balance during the 6th and 7th decades indicate a right personal path.
This post is meant to proved a method for you to identify your protein needs and ways those are established, as well as evidence you can use to know if you’re meeting those or not. Clearly, we’ve witness endurance athletes and strength-trained athletes who thrive on plant-based diets. We do need to look at over 50 athletes to be relative in comparison at least of age-related changes (protein synthesis, muscle loss without the presence of strength training). There are some, but fewer. One thing to consider is the switch to a vegan or plant-based diet is often from that of a high sugar, high processed food diet. Can we say that shifting to a mediterranean diet (inclusive of animal protein) wouldn’t produce similar results? Not without testing.
I’ve found that most people look for something to follow. A lifestyle change is hard without a map. It’s easier to eliminate entire food groups and be left with I can eat this and not that, than to make illusive “healthy choices.” Because for you, and I, and even others around your table, our gut health, our activity needs, our hormone balance, and goals all change “healthy.” Why are protein recommendations after 50 so confusing?
Here are five reasons.
… there’s no scientific proof that protein needs hover at 30 grams of protein per meal, and that this prevents muscle wasting and frailty later in life. That is baffling when leading authority’s say it, yet there definitely are studies- supported by leading protein researchers, registered dietitians, and presented at leading fitness association by other authorities listing evidence-based recommendations inclusive of 25-30 grams (or more) protein per meal.
It’s also hard to get 30 grams of protein per meal from an all plant diet without getting full as all plant-based protein sources include high fiber. That’s not claim, it’s just fact.
Plant-based diets repeat the same foods over and over in order to include adequate amounts of protein – which can quickly get stale and also is more likely to cause food sensitivity.
… given it’s status as an obesogenic (just as it sounds: causing obesity by increasing fat storage), a goitrogenic (interfering with thyroid function), and an estrogenic (confusing your endocrine system by mimicking estrogen).
Soy is either recommended or discouraged. I’m of the latter thinking having witnessed many private clients with diets high in soy (I come a midwestern state where soybeans are harvested). They had increased hot flashes and night sweats that all but disappeared with the removal of soy. This includes a client who at the time we worked together was stationed in Okinawa – where you would suspect that GMOs where not a part of the problem.
If you’re plant-based and relying on soy for protein I recommend that you:
A) Test for yourself by eliminating it 100% for at least a week then reintroducing it by eating it 2-3 times a day for at least three days.
B) Start with – or reintroduce first- fermented soy products like tempeh and miso which are often tolerated better.
…supports 20*- 30 grams protein per meal, specifically for older adults. It’s not just more for athletes which is very unintuitive. Actually, there’s more of a bell curve in that very active athletes do need more protein, while sedentary older adults on the frail side also need more protein. Muscle breakdown or wasting occurs as a result of age, exercise, and or too little calorie intake especially on a diet of low protein intake. Advanced age coupled with inactivity increases muscle wasting accompanied by weakness and spirals downward to falls and fractures as a result. The discussion about protein need becomes one about cost of health care services that could be prevented as well as one about quality of life.
“High quality” protein mentions these sources in order of highest to lowest concentration of essential amino acids and branch chain amino acids (for more detail see resources below).
A) lean meat (it runs)
B) chicken/turkey (it flies)
C) fish (it swims)
D) plant based sources** (usually don’t appear on “high quality” protein source lists)
Dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese do also appear below fish, yet many elimination diets and the doctors fully supportive of them find that women in peri-menopause and beyond feel better off dairy products and eliminate many of the frustrating symptoms they experience with hormone changes.
*20 grams for those most active “athletic” older adults who synthesize protein better than those less active, whose protein recommendations after 50 are closer to 30 grams. This is not intuitive. Most adults believe the opposite is true.
**I won’t go into the existing controversy about amino acids and their prevalence or absence in plant based foods. Yet, this is a source of continued controversy. There is a full essential amino acid (EAA) profile available in plant foods but the key EAAs in muscle metabolism are lacking. That’s an important distinction to make.
Flip: Test dairy consumption against your own digestion, elimination, bloating, gas, and skin clarity. No problems when you reintroduce it after leaving it out for at least a week? Rotate it into your diet every 2-3 days if you want to include it. Focus on lactose-free items.
Everyone does! Even if you don’t like your current results, change is hard. It is specifically hard due to socialization you may have had your entire life. Born before the mid sixties, you grew up encouraged to eat in a specific way. Dairy was likely a big part of your life growing up. You may still feel strongly about it. (It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a way of eating, in fact defensive. )“I like milk.” Yet, that’s not what’s being challenged. It’s not about keeping or eliminating what you like or don’t like. It’s about finding a way to test the results you’re having right now, and determining why you may not be at the weight, energy level or mood you want to be regularly.
Notoriously, in the sixties, seventies and eighties diets that cut out fat and meat – even before bread became the villain were common. Those absurdities that you may laugh about still shaped early thoughts. It’s hard to lose them. Protein was among the first things to go in favor of “rabbit food” and lettuce salads back in the day.
As women of all ages embrace weight training and strength, it’s important to realize muscle is protein. Without adequate amounts of:
… you slow or completely halt results. It’s as if you put your foot on the gas, and then on the break, making it impossible to get anywhere by exercising but without the adequate detail to fulfill the results you want.
Your need isn’t static. Even advocates of plant-based diets often recognize that after 60 or 65 it does become important to get animal protein back into the diet.
You don’t synthesize protein as well as you age. If you’re 55 and eat the same amount of protein at a meal as your 35 year old self, your body isn’t able to use all of it for the benefit of muscle repair and rebuilding or to benefit your immune system. To experience continued benefits you’ll need to increase protein.
One study of older adult males (average age 70) compared to young adult males (average age early 20s) found that on similar intensity exercise programs, the older adults experienced comparable results only if they consumed 40 grams of protein in post-workout meals compared to half that protein (20 grams) consumption in younger males.
End of life frailty and sarcopenia – significant muscle loss that occurs with aging IF weight training and diet are not adequate stimulus for maintaining or increasing it- are preventable. The side effects of doing now what will keep you on track for a longer healthspan later are increased metabolism, energy, and vitality.
An increase of protein should not be at the expense of plants or the beneficial components of a plant-based diet but can co-exist. You can get the amazing antioxidants as a result of a variety of plants in the diet daily as well as spare muscle loss with high-quality protein sources.
What does 30 grams of protein look like?
What can I eat for breakfast?
What if I get too full to eat that much?
It’s definitely possible! (on the other hand if you’re “hungry all the time” your probably not eating enough at meals and certainly not enough protein, fat, and carbs (plus fiber) in the right amounts. Protein offers satiety- fills you up and keeps you comfortable for hours. But getting more may take some getting used to, so let your body get used to “more” instead of going right for a quota.
Little amounts throughout the day are not beneficial in the way a bigger amount at each of three meals is unless you’re ill or old and frail and can’t tolerate. Your body has a sweet spot for simulating protein that is right at 28-30 grams per eating. Too little or too much doesn’t have the same effect. Stop grazing to develop a better appetite at your eating events and fat burning will increase as your hormone balance improves. Protein recommendations after 50 include when you get that protein. Like a dose of medicine, it’s key.
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!!
Exclusive Podcast Listener’s Promo Code: Propod
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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.
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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?”
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?
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. 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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
Instantly upgrade your smoothie with these mix-ins to add flavor and immune-boosting health benefits. If you’ve taken your protein to the next level to boost your lean and lose the fat it’s time to explore endless options for new combinations you’ll fall in love with every morning.
Matcha – powdered green tea leaves is a boost to your immune system and to your fat burning. Time it right 60-90 minutes before interval training and you can boost fat burning after your workout by 29%. Even if it’s your day off, there’s a significant boost to your fat burning at rest thanks to matcha. It will boost your alertness without the jittery kind of caffeinated feeling that you might get from coffee.
Maca – is a hormone balancing adaptogen. It helps balance estrogen and cortisol, alleviates mood swings and depression, boosts energy, mood, and stamina. Yes, please!
Hemp Hearts – are a powerful source of plant-based protein, with an ideal ratio of healthy fats, the whole seeds have good fiber content to aid digestion, may reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause.
Cacao Powder – has 40x the antioxidants of blueberries and it’s benefits include mood elevation as it acts as anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, prevents premature aging. Who knew you had a good reason to eat chocolate.
Cacao Nibs – offer the same benefits as cacao powder with the texture and crunch that may make a recipe a little more interesting
Acai – it’s very high ORAC (antioxidant) value shows in the deep purple color. It’s a good source of nutrients and fiber, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Pomegranate Powder –is loaded with fiber and vitamins, antioxidants and fatty acids, improves digestive health, an acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Gluten-free Oats – a good source of dietary fiber known to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as improve digestion. Oats can add some stick-to-your-ribs quality to your smoothie.
Collagen powder – a boost for reduced collagen production that happens with age. Benefits skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue.
Mint Greens – mint improves digestion and calms, the high ORAC value of Mint Greens offers a boost if your diet lacks veggies. *Flipping 50’s Mint Greens has been discontinued since this post but I have one final box in our home office. Send me a message if you’d like to check on availability. We’re offering a sweet BOGO 40% off until they’re all gone.
Fiber Boost – fiber (both insoluble and soluble) is necessary for optimal digestion, and sweeping toxins from your body. Ideally your fiber comes from a variety of foods you eat, but if you’re getting too little of that a daily boost is a good idea. Recommended amounts are 21 grams a day, average intakes are about 15 a day, and our ancestors ate closer to 130 grams a day (with far fewer constipation and obesity issues).
Chia Seeds – Instantly upgrade your smoothie with this natural fiber boost that also includes healthy omega 3 fats, and plant-based protein. Chia also improves digestive health.
Flax Meal – omega 3 fats, fiber, lignans, high in phytonutrients
Pumpkin seeds – magnesium and zinc, omega 3 fats, benefits for post-menopause reducing hot flashes thanks to phytoestrogens, tryptophan for sleep, anti-inflammatory
Gogi berries – – loaded with antioxidants for a healthy immune system, amino acids (protein)
Avocado -20 different vitamins and minerals instantly upgrade your smoothie while making it a decadent rich dessert-like treat. They offer a healthy source of fiber, heart-healthy fat, anti-inflammatory, high in magnesium and potassium, and enhance satiety.
Adzuki or Canneloni beans –add this source of fiber, protein, and resistant starch to your smoothie and enjoy stable energy and stay comfortably full until your next meal. You’ll never know they’re there except for the great way you feel.
Blueberries – highest antioxidant content of all fruits and vegetables, boost brain health and memory.
Instantly upgrade your smoothie with one or more of these mix-ins. Then share your favorites with me! I’d love to hear from you!
Breakfast bowls, bars, pancakes, and muffins below may give you some hot and cold options for a variety this season. Start your day powered with protein for all day fat burning.
Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day (they all count!), but it may be the most challenging. I’m a smoothie girl. I love the opportunity to start with an easy, fast, and convenient way to get a nutrient rich start to the day. I get that many of my readers don’t want to do a cold breakfast, however so I have a few options. I don’t cave on the range of 20-30 grams of protein (I personally boost to 35 gms) for each meal, but these options can add some high quality protein without dairy, soy, sugar, gluten, or wheat so they are all gut friendly.
*call me crazy but you could make this a warm soup if you have warm potatoes (that roasted while you worked out?). Sub powdered coconut milk and pure filtered water and blend to Thanksgiving-worthy breakfast soup. Add a few drops of stevia. Pumpkin pie spice could sub for the nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove.
Blend in high powered blender. Love smoothie bowls? Get 30 recipes here.
Cook gluten-free oats in a crockpot overnight by adding 1 cup oats and 4 cups water (or read instructions per label) plus pinch of sea salt in crock pot.
In the morning scoop one serving of oatmeal into a bowl.
Add almond/coconut milk to thin and stir in scoop of Paleo or Plant Power protein (chocolate or vanilla). Add fresh or frozen berries and sprinkle with nuts to top.
Steam the veggies with garlic in avocado oil. Remove from pan. Cook scrambled eggs, add the steamed veggies back in. Place eggs and veggies in a bowl. Add beans and quinoa to pan until heated through. Add all ingredients to the bowl and serve. 24 grams of protein.
In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients
Roll into 18 balls
Roll the formed balls in extra protein powder or cacao powder to make it feel less sticky on the outside.
*the honey will help the ingredients “stick” and may stick to you too. Use this one sparingly and best when you have high-energy needs: following a hard workout or during a long hike or when you are first making the flip from gooey sticky sweets to a better choice. Makes about 18 small balls
In a high-powered blender or food processor, add all the ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too wet, add more protein mix. If the mixture is too dry, add a splash of warm water. * Hand mixing with a fork and then spoon works fine, too.
Spray a 8 x 8 pan lightly with coconut oil or rub on with fingers.
Pat the batter into the bottom of the pan evenly. Sprinkle with coconut.
Store in air-proof container and refrigerate for up to 7 days. Makes: 10
Combine all ingredients in a blender or in a bowl with a hand mixer Grease an iron skillet with grass-fed butter or ghee .
Cook pancake mixture on a low heat until each side is golden brown and pancakes are puffed up (about 3 minutes each side) Add more butter and sprinkle with cacao nibs. Makes 4 pancakes
*only if you tolerate
Place all ingredients in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake or whisk well for a minute. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 4 servings
Flip: Make it vanilla if you prefer with vanilla protein, pure vanilla extract, drops of stevia to taste (skip the cacao)
*Mint Greens has been discontinued by our supplier but I have the last box at our home office. Message me to check if there’s one for you and we’ll send it directly to you if you’re one of the lucky ones!
Combine quinoa and milk and cook. Remove from heat. Add sea salt and cinnamon. Mix well. Add vanilla and stevia. Mix well. Add vanilla protein powder. Mix well. Serve warm or let cool and refrigerate to reheat later.
Blend all ingredients through the all spice. Blend yogurt with vanilla stevia. Layer 1/3 pumpkin mix, then ½ yogurt, and repeat. Top with nuts.
*substitute cashew or coconut yogurt if your avoiding dairy
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Combine the flour, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseed, monk fruit extract, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well and set aside. Combine the coconut milk, oil, and vanilla in a separate small mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir with a spatula until just moistened. Don’t over mix. Don’t worry if there are lumps. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Bake for 27-29 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool. Makes 12
Combine broken muffins with layers of either of the breakfast bowls or parfaits for a stick-to-the ribs breakfast.
There’s breakfast bowls and more simplified for the holidays or any time of year. Giving gifts? Watch for gift ideas for you and them coming soon. For now check this list.
*updated Jan 30, 2018