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The Flipping 50 Show

Let's start Flipping 50 with the energy and the vitality you want for this second half! I solve your biggest challenges and answer questions about how to move, what to eat, and when, along with the small lifestyle changes that can make the most difference in the least amount of time. Join me and my expert guests for safe, sane, simple solutions for your second (and better) half!

Nov 28, 2023

Many women want to lose weight. To lose weight for active women over 40, they also don’t want performance to deteriorate. There are a few things to consider. First, it’s not the eat less, exercise more dogma that will get you what you really want. 

Most women want energy, tone and definition, and strength for now and later. Better blood sugar control that supports reductions in belly fat and overall insulin sensitivity. 

Am I right?

But eating less and exercising more - if successful at all during menopause and post - will generally cause the opposite. Less energy, worse mood, poor sleep, less muscle tone, and spirals down from there with long term ramifications to health. 

Being active, whether sports performance level or just athletic active, requires energy. There is still a way to juggle goals of maintaining or improving performance while still dropping a few pounds of extra cushioning. 

Eating to Lose Weight Active Over 40

Close to the beginning and/or after completion of exercise, peri- and postmenopausal athletes should aim for a bolus of high EAA-containing (~10 g) intact protein sources or supplements to overcome anabolic resistance.

Anabolic resistance is the status of muscle loss being more likely than muscle gain and it requires more intense exercise stimulus (strength training), quality protein stimulus, and recovery to overcome it. 

An ACSM review of literature stated 20 g protein pre-exercise (and 40 after) for older adults to boost Muscle Protein Synthesis similar to that of a 20 yr old when workout conditions were comparable. 

Time pre-exercise fuel for optimal digestion. Within 30 minutes of a workout the easier to digest fuel must be. It’s not only a comfort factor, but also the diverted energy for digestion competing with the need for blood flow to deliver oxygen to working muscles. Both digestion and performance will suffer. A “simple shake” with protein powder and unsweetened almond milk or water may be the easy way to go. 

If you want carbs, add a half a banana to the shake or have half cup oatmeal with protein powder.

Pre-workout, avoid fiber and fat. A mixed meal eaten pre-workout should allow at least 2 ½ - 3 hours to be fully digested. Some will feel most comfortable if this is longer than that (4 hours) if it’s following recommendations for high fiber, high protein and high fat. 

Given recommendations range from at least 10 to 20 grams of protein pre-workout, below are some examples of protein sources. The more challenged you are with gaining lean muscle (and or are attempting to lose weight while retaining muscle) the higher end of the range you want to be.

Lose Weight for Active Women: Women’s Guide to Exercise Nutrition

High EAA examples of 10 g protein: 

Small half a simple shake including protein powder and unsweetened almond milk 

Dairy (which does by the way include whey protein) generally pre-exercise wouldn’t be recommended due to its influence in mucus production, even if you tolerate which a lot of women don’t later in life (but Greek yogurt or cottage cheese are sources of protein- again I don’t recommend pre-exercise).

·      2 eggs equal 12 grams of protein (if you tolerate eggs) 

·      ½ cup steel cut oats with protein stirred in

·      Quinoa 

Choices vary as to whether you want carbohydrate prior or not to avoid early fatigue during exercise sessions.

Overcoming Anabolic Resistance: 

A study in the European Journal of Sports Science found higher protein intakes (2-3 times the protein Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 0.8 g/kg/d) during periods of energy restriction can enhance fat-free mass (FFM) preservation, particularly when combined with exercise.

Athletes [and let’s include, the very active] aiming to reduce fat mass and preserve FFM should consume protein intakes in the range of ∼1.8-2.7 g kg(-1) d(-1) (or ∼2.3-3.1 g kg(-1) FFM) in combination with a moderate energy deficit (-500 kcal) and the performance of some form of resistance exercise. 

What does that look like for you? 

Say you weigh 130lbs. Rounding Kgs up to 60. 

Based on body weight: 162 g protein 

Using the FFM example: 

Say you weigh 130lbs and are 25% body fat. Subtracting the fat weight in lbs (32.5) from bodyweight leaves 97.5 Fat Free Mass. 

224 g 

Using the high range number for each of body weight and FFM-based protein recommendations, the daily protein recommendation then would be 162 – 224 grams of protein daily. That is with the goal of losing weight while resistance training with a moderate calorie deficit. 

Taking a median number of 180 g protein with each gram of protein offering 4 kcals means you’d be taking in 720 kcals/day from protein. 

Fat = 7 kcals, Carb = 4 kcals. 

Prepare to be confused. 

Health Organizations Weigh in (Not necessarily on losing weight)

  • Prestigious Organizations Offer These Calculations for a 130lb active woman: 
  • American Dietetic Association (ADA): at least 59 - 106 grams/day.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 48 - 169 grams/day (10-35% of daily caloric intake).
  • World Health Organization safe lower limit: 49 grams/day.

Keep in mind these recommendations vary in goal. The least amount of protein to avoid death or illness is not the same to thrive and add lean muscle, strength and energy. We have a gap. 

So, it is of course confusing. We also have emotional relationships to food and beliefs we’ve held for a long time. Those too are likely factors in your reaction to this episode. You’re nodding or shaking. Even though the science is the basis of the content, we don’t as humans adopt it readily. 

Say You Don’t Want to Lose Weight You Want to Maintain

Daily protein intake should fall within the mid- to upper ranges of current sport nutrition guidelines (1.4-2.2 g·kg-1·day-1) for women at all stages of menstrual function (pre-, peri-, post-menopausal, and contraceptive users) with protein doses evenly distributed, every 3-4 h, across the day. Eumenorrheic athletes in the luteal phase and peri/post-menopausal athletes, regardless of sport, should aim for the upper end of the range.

Let’s do the math. 

130lb woman 

Convert to kg: 59

129 g protein 


150lb woman 

Convert to kg: 68

149 g protein 

This is the equivalent of 1 g protein per lb of body weight. You can keep it easy by remembering that is your daily AND that a “dose” of protein needs to be at least 30gm at a meal. However, if you go higher as suggested for your first meal of the day, the next meal may not need to be as high if you eat within 3-4 hours to keep that muscle protein synthesis up.
The alternative is muscle protein breakdown. You’re in one or the other. There’s really not a neutral. 

To Lose Weight for Active Women, Examples of a day of high protein meals: 


  • 20 gm protein in a simple shake pre-workout 
  • Or minimally, 12 gm protein in two eggs pre-workout

Meal Examples: 

  • 45g protein in a post- workout smoothie 
  • 51g Salmon (35) + quinoa (6) + Greek-style yogurt (10) with berries 
  • 43g Taco Salad with ground Bison (35) + Black beans (8) 
  • 46g 6 large Sauteed Scallops (29) + Three-bean salad (8) + Black Bean Brownie (9) 

I’m not an advocate of calorie counting. However, a snapshot of the number of calories you take in can be helpful. Many women are too far below what they need, AND too low in protein, AND not lifting weights with adequate intensity or sleeping. Those will add up to muscle loss. You may temporarily think you’re successful at the weight loss game, but unless you mitigate it, muscle loss will result in you feeling weaker, less energetic and having a slower metabolism 

Weight loss with an on-target activity plan means having a slight caloric deficit with an increased amount of protein from a maintenance phase. Other research I’ve shared suggests increasing protein by 10-15% above maintenance along with a reasonable deficit if weight loss is needed. 

So, let’s challenge that. 

Do you need weight loss? Or do you need to gain lean muscle? Get very clear. You may need both but someone listening needs to hear this: you don’t need weight loss; you need fat loss. That will come with an increase in lean muscle and a decrease in inflammation. 

Additionally, to Lose Weight While Active Over 40

Creatine supplementation of 3 to 5 g per day is recommended for the mechanistic support of creatine supplementation with regard to muscle protein kinetics, growth factors, satellite cells, myogenic transcription factors, glycogen and calcium regulation, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Postmenopausal females benefit from bone health, mental health, and skeletal muscle size and function when consuming higher (5g) doses of creatine.


Murphy CH, Hector AJ, Phillips SM. Considerations for protein intake in managing weight loss in athletes. Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(1):21-8. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2014.936325. Epub 2014 Jul 11. PMID: 25014731.

Hector AJ, Phillips SM. Protein Recommendations for Weight Loss in Elite Athletes: A Focus on Body Composition and Performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 Mar 1;28(2):170-177. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0273. Epub 2018 Feb 19. PMID: 29182451.

Sims ST, Kerksick CM, Smith-Ryan AE, Janse de Jonge XAK, Hirsch KR, Arent SM, Hewlings SJ, Kleiner SM, Bustillo E, Tartar JL, Starratt VG, Kreider RB, Greenwalt C, Rentería LI, Ormsbee MJ, VanDusseldorp TA, Campbell BI, Kalman DS, Antonio J. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutritional concerns of the female athlete. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2023 Dec;20(1):2204066. doi: 10.1080/15502783.2023.2204066. 


PMID: 37221858; PMCID: PMC10210857.


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