Where’s the Tone? How Under-Recovery Kills Muscle Tone in Menopause

Episode #451 Muscle tone in menopause is a common topic around these parts. In that regard, I like to discuss strength, and measure body composition, but the first signs for you, listener, that your workouts aren’t working or you need to start strength training is often a lack of muscle tone.

You too? I’ve got you. This episode is all about it.

You can’t overtrain but you can under-recover.

If this topic is a little too near and dear to your heart, or your bat wings, short shorts, or bathing suit confidence, join me June 9th for the upcoming Flipping50 Masterclass: Muscle Gain, Not Fat Loss. It’s all about running, actually lifting, to the right target again. Click to save your spot. https://www.flippingfifty.com/strengthnow

REST

  • Above all, sleep. Get your ideal sleep quantity. If menopause symptoms are squashing your sleep goals, deal with them. There are answers to those issues (Sleep Yourself Skinny). From magnesium, carbs at dinner (more below), maca, the timing of your workouts, and your sleep hygiene.
  • Between sessions
  • In consideration with your current stress load (adding a challenging workout to a busy workday or one full of family stressors is a recipe for stress overload)
  • Between sets

If you have a low level of fitness just starting or restarting, your workouts are about setting habits. You may be able to do more frequent workouts. As your intensity progresses, however, you want to increase recovery days. Muscle tone in menopause requires intensity in exercise so you’ll want and need more recovery.

LESS EXERCISE?

That is not intuitive, right? You will think that you’re ready for more, and more advanced so you should workout more frequently. No. A well-planned exercise routine for anyone includes hard days, easy days, and recovery days. And as you get older (or your life stressors compound your exercise stress) an additional recovery day is fitness boosting. Doing “more” for more-sake will likely reduce fitness, results, and send you backward.

Your Training “Week”

Whether you use a 7-day week, or you extend a training cycle to 9 days (You Still Got It, Girl!) to allow more optimal hard workouts coupled with optimal recovery, is up to you. Sometimes retired or not retired is the determinant.

It’s important that you realize your brain, your thoughts about what you need, are the limiting factor in your training. If you have to have more training time, you in that case might set Monday, Wednesday, Friday as your strength schedule. You’d only lift heavy on Monday and Friday, making Wednesday a functional kind of body weight or low resistance workout that varies the use of the body.

NUTRITION

Fuel Instead of Fast

For someone who exercises hard regularly and or who also is very active (say summer months when you’re golfing, gardening, hiking or biking more), make sure you’re not skipping quality calories or carbs. As for calories, even small changes make a difference. 

For women in menopause at odds with carbs, start there. Try a baked slice of sweet potato or half a banana with a smear of almond nut butter before cardio/HIIT workouts. Enjoy a simple shake with protein and coconut milk or oat milk (instead of water). These small additions to your calories and to your pre-workout fuel will support a better workout AND better recovery.

After a workout is the right time to put them back in so you restore your source of energy for the rest of the day.

Surprised I’m not talking about protein first? It’s coming.

Think starchy carbs like:

Sweet potatoes, quinoa, gluten-free soaked oats (overnight oats) and more green than ripe bananas. Sit down to lunch with a bowl of salmon, black beans, and greens. If you have a smoothie, don’t skip the carbs. (sweet potatoes, aquafaba – liquid from chickpeas – or cannoli beans, are as appropriate if you don’t like the sweet of fruit).

You’re not going to lose weight eliminating carbs if you’re truly on the move.  In fact, you’re more likely to halt your progress. If you’re “fit” but still fat, and it doesn’t seem to make sense, check on this one. So many women are beyond confused about keto, fasting, and think of carbs as the antichrist. If you’re an athlete, or active, start treating yourself like it at meals.

Protein is key

Unless you’re already working with a Flipping 50 Fitness Specialist I’m going to guess you are not eating enough protein. Here’s enough. About a gram per pound of ideal body weight. For women who want to lose weight and keep the muscle this is crucial. The more you cut calories, and skimp on protein the more any weight loss, if your body doesn’t slow metabolism that is, will include a high percent of muscle.

Want More on Muscle Tone in Menopause?

The second Wednesday of each month I do a special Flipping 50 Masterclass focusing on the science of fitness in menopause and have since 2013. It’s still free, and it’s rich in evidence-based protocols and facts featuring you. Check the banner at flippingfifty.com for registration. The next one as we record is June 9th. 4pm Pacific/5 Mountain. Join Me. I’ll target all the most FAQs.

REST & DIGEST

A neglected part of nutrition in recovery that is often forgotten is digestion. For muscle tone in menopause you have to not only be eating the right thing but absorbing it all. How do you know if you’re in “rest & digest” mode? Read on.

Signs you’re not digesting well include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • gas
  • poor appetite
  • hormonal imbalances
  • general fatigue
  • headaches
  • blood sugar imbalances

What to do?

Eliminate:

  • Meals on repeat
  • Dairy, gluten, wheat (for starters) 
  • Gooey gels and bars (might once have worked but not now?)

What to Add:

  • A probiotic
  • A digestive enzyme before meals – Betaine HCL
  • Saur kraut – 2-4 forkfuls 1-3 times a day
  • During competitions – Atrantil
  • L-glutamine
  • Bone broth or collagen protein (for gut)

Most important, though?

STOP. Relax. Take 5 deep breaths before you eat. Sit down during a meal. Then, sit down after a meal. Rest for 15-20 minutes. Breath. Avoid eating on the go.

During activity, be a little more thoughtful about fueling too. Hiking? Sit down and enjoy the view to have that stash of nuts. (A high protein and fat snack for low intensity exercise is appropriate).  Walking the golf course, chewing on sunflower seeds or jerky? Stop on the turn and go in and let someone play through if you need to.

Related to Muscle Tone in Menopause: 

Intermittent Fasting for Active Menopausal Women?

Listener Question About Muscle Tone

 

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