In her mid-60s, Margerie noticed that she was getting flabby. Her arms, previously well toned, looked like they were made of Jell-o. This was discouraging, because Margerie had been working out regularly for years with light weights. She had even begun to take protein powders designed for bodybuilders, but they didn’t work, either. What was she doing wrong?
We all lose some muscle as we age, and you may have found that it’s difficult to stop and reverse this action. Exercise helps. So do muscle-building supplements. But they’re not enough.
Margerie was on the right track. Exercising slowly with light weights is the first step in preserving muscle. Next comes diet and supplements. But when I looked at her diet, I saw that her overall protein intake was low. I noticed that Margerie’s protein powder that she used once a day wasn’t enough.
This is common for women over 60. That’s because we tend to eat less protein as we get older, and the protein we do eat is not digested as well as it was when we were younger. Poor digestion means poor absorption.
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But that’s not all. I also saw that her protein was the wrong kind. You see, the type of protein you eat can make a huge difference. Not all forms of protein powders work equally well. Bodybuilders discovered years ago that whey protein powder works best.
There are whey concentrates and whey isolates. The isolate is the most popular. It’s a little better absorbed, but it’s more processed and less balanced. That’s why I don’t recommend whey isolate. Still, not all whey concentrates are alike. Most of them contain rBST, an artificial growth hormone that lowers a cow’s lifespan and increases your risk for cancer. So use only whey powder that is organic and free from contaminants.
One manufacturer of whey products told me, “Cheap whey protein is like eating a wall. You’ll get some minerals from it, but it’s not a good source of nutrition.”
So taking enough protein and the right type of protein are vital for toning and building muscle. But even that’s not enough. When you take a nutrient can be just as important.
A recent study out of Colorado State University found that drinking a protein shake right after exercising helped build muscles best. So exercise with one or two pound weights, and drink a protein shake made with organic whey concentrate afterward. You should see a difference in muscle tone within a few months.
You can find an organic whey protein concentrate from Advanced Bionutritionals. It comes from grass-fed New Zealand cows, which is the best source of whey protein in the world. I take some after every workout. You should too.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Matthew M. Robinson, Scott M. Turner, Marc K. Hellerstein, Karyn L. Hamilton, and Benjamin F. Miller. Long-term synthesis rates of skeletal muscle DNA and protein are higher during aerobic training in older humans than in sedentary young subjects but are not altered by protein supplementation. FASEB J; doi:10.1096/fj.11-186437.