This after 50 smoothies guide answers all the questions I’ve fielded over my career as well as those I’ve personally had over 39 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 also have resistance to the idea of protein, and why I did a complete 180 after 30 years. You can decide, from this guide, how you too will benefit from smoothies (and how to do it in a way that makes sense for you).
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- fat burning,
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After 50 Smoothies and Aging
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.
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What is an After 50 Smoothie?
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.
- A scoop of high quality protein is going to cost about $2.20
- Add 1.5 cups of spinach for $0.75
- 1 cup of almond milk for $0.43
- cacao for $0.70
- frozen cherries for $0.80
- ¼ avocado for $0.40
- dash of cinnamon (it’s on the shelf already right?)
- The cost of this smoothie is going to be about $5.25.
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.
Update April 2023:
I regularly increase the level and type of protein I consume in a smoothie, regularly. I add collagen protein (please know: collagen alone is NOT ENOUGH ESSENTIAL AMINO ACID STIMULUS for MUSCLE). It elevates the muscle-building protein already present, but alone does not provide it. So, no, a little collagen in your coffee doesn’t count. A smoothie with collagen as the only protein doesn’t count.
I’ve also become a fan of Silk’s Greek-style coconut yogurt. Adding 10 grams of protein to a smoothie is a huge boost in protein to start your day.
The cost of a serving of collagen increases the cost of the smoothie by roughly $2.25.
The cost of a serving of Greek-style yogurt is $2.50.
I’m now getting a protein bump for my muscle protein synthesis of about 50 grams of protein.
The cost per smoothie is now about $10. You can’t get a breakfast lunch or dinner with that much protein and few carbs very easily. Made in 2-3 minutes. I will also add creatine to this. And yes, cost goes up. The cost of not starting with high protein, in a convenient – I-can’t-say-I-don’t-have-enough-time way, is key to me doing it. To pay for the same smoothie out would cost me (at my gym, at least $18 for comparable protein).
Your first meal of the day not only breaks your fast, it sets the tone for the day. You’re in fat burning or fat storage. There’s no neutral.
What makes truly “healthy” after 50 smoothies?
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.
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Recipe Template for Your After 50 Smoothies
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
- Essential Amino Acid (EAA) –rich protein or supplement options, including:
- Plant protein shakes (check for adequate EAA) – pea, pumpkin, brown rice, hemp
- Hydro beef protein shakes
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for Fat Burning
- Green tea
- Healthy fats
- Raw cacao
- Many of the ingredients here (whole foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients) will boost your metabolism especially if you’ve been depleted
- Sweet potatoes (sooth yourself with low glycemic carbs to reduce cortisol and in return open the fat burning gate)
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for enhancing Satiety
- Proteins listed above
- Chia seeds
- Ground flax meal
- Nut butter
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for natural hormone balance
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for brainpower
- Nuts and nut butter
- Hemp hearts
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for natural detox (liver support – alkalinity helping hormones)
- Greens (spinach, kale, chard, romaine)
- Wheat grass
- Chlorophyll or Spiralina
- Lemon or lime
After 50 Smoothies Ingredients for Blood sugar balance
After 50 Smoothie Ingredients for Reduced inflammation
- Berries or cherries
After 50 Smoothie Ingredients for digestion & gut
- Chia seeds
- Collagen protein
Smoothie Ingredients for reducing bloat
- Honeydew melon
- Green tea
Smoothie Ingredients for enhancing skin
- Collagen powder
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Facts About After 50 Smoothies Consumption
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.
Recipes for After 50 Smoothies
Inflammation Reduction Smoothie
- 1 cup kale (or other greens)
- 1 serving Vanilla protein
- ½ -3/4 Coconut milk*
- 2 Kiwi
- ½ cup frozen pineapple
- ¼ tsp fresh grated Ginger
- ¼ tsp. Ground Tumeric
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
- 1 serving Vanilla Protein Shake mix
- ½ small apple (I like Granny Smith)
- ½ raw red beet, washed and peeked (yes, raw)
- ½ cup frozen berries
- 1 small handful kale (or spinach)
- ¼ cup frozen pineapple
- small orange, peeled
- ice cold water
- ice, optional
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.
Anti-Inflammatory Post Exercise Smoothie
- 1 serving chocolate Paleo Power, Your Whey, or Plant Power Protein
- 1 T raw cacao nibs
- ¼ – ½ avocado
- ¾ cup frozen cherries
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- unsweetened coconut milk to blend
- raw shredded coconut and walnut pieces to top
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.
- Vanilla protein shake (Plant or Paleo Power)
- 1 apple (seeded)
- 2 kiwi
- 1 cup cashew/coconut/Greek yogurt
- 1-2 T chia seeds (soak them first for a few minutes in water, drain)
- pure filtered water, just enough to blend
- lime juice
- maca, optional
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?
A. In seconds with a NutriBullet or my Vitamin.
What are your after 50 smoothie questions?
I’d love to hear from you.
- fat burning
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