Why Am I Bloated? Is Your Protein Causing Midlife Gut Issues?

“Why am I bloated?” It’s a conversation starter for many of the clients and students I’ve worked with. First, this. Midlife gut issues are common, not normal. Ironically, some of the healthy habits you have may be getting in the way of your optimal absorption of nutrients, digestion and or elimination. 

In a recent previous episode, Protein Supplements: What, When & Why to Exercise for Women 40+ 

Why Whey Protein Doesn’t Work for Many at Midlife 

Adequate Protein

What’s important to keep in mind is that whey is notoriously the go-to. However, of the many whey protein powders on the market a very high percent were found to have toxins, sugars, or significant heavy metals (mercury and lead) and weren’t third party tested before reaching the shelf.

The advantage of whey and reason it’s been so widely used by body builders is the rapid absorption – making it easy to digest pre and or post workout. It supports muscle repair and recovery and glycogen replacement very well. 

It is dairy, however. A known inflammatory (especially if you have an autoimmune issue like arthritis, lupus or Hashimoto’s) dairy is one of the first things that removed will improve health and decrease aches and pains and reduce inflammatory markers. Many women in midlife find with hormone changes – related to the hormone influence on the gut – dairy causes bloating, constipation, diarrhea, skin or joint pain, when it hadn’t before. 

Soy Protein for Women in Menopause

Soy is another ingredient or protein option whether in powder or as milk, tofu, or other source. It however has a history as an obesogenic, goitrogenic, and estrogenic. That is, respectively it causes fat storage, disrupts thyroid function, and confuses the body to think it’s estrogen. 

Egg Protein Powder or Scrambled for Muscle Building?

Less popular, but also on the shelves are egg protein powders. Eggs, though categorized differently than dairy, can also be highly likely to be food sensitivities. Occasionally, eggs may work. Daily though this is where the gut is subject over and over to a type of assault that will make it hard to heal from any existing gut issue. Even little bits of the right medicine make you well. By the same token, little bits regularly of the wrong food can make you sick or interfere with your optimal health. 

You will find brown rice protein powder as well. This isn’t a complete protein, will have more carbohydrate. But is cheaper, for a reason. I think of this as “filler.” If it’s a part of protein powders, you want to check on the amount. Where is it listed in the ingredients.  

What Are Non-Allergenic Protein Powder Options for Women Over 40?

So, that leaves a hydrolyzed beef option for animal protein (complete essential amino acids but fewer than even a plant protein and a little bit more like collagen) and a plant-based option like Pea, pumpkin, or hemp. Pea, pumpkin and hemp are all complete proteins, meaning they have all the essential amino acids in them. 

My choice for muscle is a Pea-based protein powder with added collagen and hemp hearts.

Your best bet is of course animal protein and with it you’ll reach a high amount of 3 particularly important EAA, called Branch Chain AAs. Those are leucine, isoleusine, and valine. The greatest of these is leucine. Ideally, you want 2.3-2.5 minimum of leucine per meal of 30 or more gm of protein. With animal protein that’s easy. With plant it’s not as easy. For older adults as well as for body builders and endurance athletes – three populations with greatest demand for protein for muscle preservation or building – high or at least adequate leucine levels are scientifically tied to better results. 

Should you supplement with BCAAs..

For women not eating adequate calories or protein, the first step would be to take EAA. You need them all. 

If you’re eating all the protein you need in a day, the next step if you’re struggling to gain muscle would be BCAA. If you skip from a low protein diet, or completely from plants to BCAAs the other building blocks of muscle aren’t there. That’s a shaky foundation. 

Plan your meals around high quality protein. Plant or animal sources can all count. Consider what’s missing. Is there a way to add this with food? Do you want or need to consider supplementation either in a powder – adding a shake to your meal, or in tablets – based on the feedback your body is giving you? 

Track the Results of Supplements on Your Body

Track your muscle. Track your body composition. Pay attention to digestive and elimination issues you may be passing off as “normal.”

Keep in mind too that at 70 adults have about 10% of the stomach acid they did at 20. That is the very thing that helps you digest food. Eating stressed, rushed or doing 3 other things while eating? Even if you’re not 70, there’s a high chance you’re not going to digest well. 

A few things CAN help. 

  • First, take a few deep breaths before you eat. 
  • Turn other stimuli off. 
  • Try bitters sprayed on the tongue or apple cider vinegar in water just before a meal to stimulate your own stomach acid. 

If those don’t help you, consider taking Betaine HCL before meals. The caps go in, then help stimulate gastric juices so you breakdown the proteins in foods and digest better. Many notice within days they experience less bloating after meals. That’s betaine HCL, it’s not a brand name, it’s the only ingredient. 


Stable Blood Sugar Levels

If you don’t know what this is or why I’ll give you the crash course. And I’ll suggest if you have it to invest on your health, get a continuous blood glucose monitor and track yourself for at least a month, 3 would be better. Go to flippingfifty.com/glucose and use code: Flipping50 for $25 off

Lift Weights As Heavy As You Safely Can

Yes, lighter weights more reps fatigues muscle, but as you age and begin lifting less and less in life, do you think you need heavy or lighter weights to avoid decline? Your bone responds best to heavy load and so does energy expenditure. Unlike cardio that burns calories during (and then burns you out), weight training works hardest in the 24 or 48 hours afterwards while your body is in recovery and repair. You burn more calories then and build your body up for having more energy and stamina later. Nothing will has a bigger potential to improve menopause transition than strength training. 

Caution: don’t look up the very limited interpretation of a lb of muscle burns X amount of calories a day. That’s a very shortsighted mistake about the benefit of muscle.

Recover More Than You’ve Ever Done Before

Muscle that’s 60 is less resilient than muscle that’s 20. Even if you’re in great shape at 60, younger you had younger muscle that bounced back faster. You can be just as fit, maybe more fit at 60… as long as you don’t try to exercise the same way. Fitness happens during recovery between exercise provided the stimulus was adequate.

Reduce Your Stress and Find Some Joy

Stress hormones are catabolic, that is cause muscle loss and fat storage so these are an obstacle you can’t skip over.

Questions We Answer in this Episode:

Sleep Like a Boss

If it’s not happening that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It just means that you haven’t potentially given it the step-by-step dedication to specific changes like: 

  • Epsom salt baths
  • Same wake time daily
  • Sunshine as soon as you can once awake
  • Exercise at least 10 minutes a day
  • Magnesium with dinner
  • Establishing a waking and bedtime routine

Other Episodes You May Like: 

Protein Supplements for Muscle Building: https://www.flippingfifty.com/protein-supplements-for-muscle-building/

What to Know About Creatine Supplementation: https://www.flippingfifty.com/creatine


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