Ask Toni

Friends, I receive so many intelligent questions off-line in regards to lifestyle, nutrition and fitness, that I always feel it’s a waste not to share all of our collective observations, comments and “ah-ha” moments with others. I feel strongly that regardless of our condition of wellness, we all must all be our own health advocates and I know how challenging it is to cut through the clutter. Sharing information is a powerful way to get to the bottom of what’s eating us…so to speak and if I can offer any guidance, well, that is a gratifying place for me to be. So let this be our safe forum to pose questions, collaborate and create an environment of open dialogue and sharing. Please feel free to post your questions here, and I will most certainly engage if it’s in the realm of related topics. Stay healthy, stay strong, stay tuned!   DSC_0003

  1. Toni I am working out more,but I am eating more as well.I now have love handles.I don’t want them,but the workout makes me want to eat sugary things.Any ideas on substitutes.

    • Hi Doug,

      It’s such a positive lifestyle change to incorporate more work outs, however it seems you may be undermining all your efforts in your nutrition choices. Gaining love handles is a sign that your food quality and calories are not in alignment with your true needs and you may not be getting enough of the right kind of calories. If you are experiencing sugar cravings, it is likely that your blood sugar (glucose circulating in your blood) gets low which causes you to need immediate energy, and that’s where the desire for simple carbohydrates come into play in the form of highly processed foods and sugary treats. Sugar consumption creates a vicious cycle; once you consume sugar insulin is secreted from the pancreas and it drives the flood of calories into storage–your fat cells. This in turn causes your glucose to drop even further, resulting in more cravings. Your body works very hard to keep your glucose levels in balance, through two complimentary hormones–insulin and glucagon–although if your system continues to be challenged it could result in major health issues.

      Here are some steps to consider:

      1: To prevent sugar cravings, be sure you eat small meals of high-quality, whole food–including lean proteins, whole grains and plenty of veggies–throughout the day in the right combination so you feel satiated and your glucose levels are regulated. Chapter 6 in my book BITE ME! is dedicated to blood sugar regulation if you haven’t read it yet. I find all my clients reduce or eliminate cravings when they prevent them through eating balanced meals and you’ll get great results if you are consistent.

      2. Replace sugary snacks with a protein bar as a transitional step. Think Thin makes a fairly good quality bar, lower on the sugar scale than most others, and eliminate all other sources of sugar. Eventually reduce and eliminate the bar, they are inferior to whole food options.

      3) To rule out the potential for diabetes, get your fasting blood sugar checked by a physician. And always keep your doc in the loop whenever you make changes to your lifestyle and nutrition regimen.

      Thanks for checking in!

  2. Hi Toni,
    I had a question that I am hoping you can answer for me.
    How much daily protein should an 80 year old be getting each day if they are moderately active?
    Thank you for answering.

    • Hi Ann,

      I’m glad you asked this question, it’s at the top of many people’s minds, especially because it’s far more convenient to over-consume protein’s macronutrient counterparts — carbohydrates and fat — in our grab-and-go American culture. Go to any local restaurant buffet and try to find protein amongst the salads, pizza, bread, muffins and baked potatoes, and you’ll be like me, unabashedly fishing out the rare bits of chicken breast from the noodle soup tureen. Protein is a unique macronutrient in that it builds and repairs the body, and protein the body doesn’t require, can be used as energy or fuel.

      There are a few things to consider in making a good estimation about protein requirements including age, activity, and the number of calories consumed in any given day.

      It’s now time to get out your calculator, or google an equation, like my high school daughter does.

      A person with an average activity level–which is most of the population–needs .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, which is about 25-30% of the total caloric intake.

      First convert weight into kilograms. The equation looks like this:
      Weight x .453592 = kilograms of body weight
      For example:
      185 LBS x .453592 = 83 kilograms

      Then, 83 kilograms x .8 = 66.4

      So now you know that a person of 185 pounds needs around 66 grams of protein per day. If that person is over 65 years young, their absorption of protein decreases, so an additional 50% is required.

      66 grams + 33 grams = 99 grams

      Ideally, this person would be eating five small meals per day, so about 20 grams of protein with each meal which is roughly equivalent to half a chicken breast or a serving of Toni’s OatMEAL (forgive the plug)!

      Earlier I had referred to the amount of calories a person consumes in a day, and it’s important to be aware the grams of protein required do not adjust downward. The amount of protein they need every day remains fairly static in spite of under eating. In this case, focus on the total grams, and not the approximate percentage of total calories.

      An athlete, even a recreational athlete may have higher protein demands so this formula applies to most somewhat active 80 year olds in the given weight range.

      Stay healthy and strong!

  3. Question Toni,
    If making a whey protein smoothie using a whey protein powder by Tera’s Whey, when should you drink it and how many times during the day? This would be for an older couple in their 80’s. Also, would you want to drink it before or after a workout or just have one for breakfast, lunch or dinner? I just don’t know if they will be overdoing the protein or not.

  4. As with all whey protein formulations, it should be considered “supplemental” to one’s diet and used in place of lean meats, fish and poultry when those whole foods are not convenient. So ideally, enjoying a smoothie once a day with the protein boost would be a great way to get about a quarter to a third of one’s protein requirements, generally speaking.

    Before a workout, it’s always best to eat a balanced meal of complex carbohydrates and lean proteins about an hour prior. Some people do well by having about half their meal just before a workout and replenishing those carbs and proteins just after.

    As far as when to have a protein smoothie? Any time that it’s most convenient to use a blender. Protein smoothies are a great opportunity to make sure you get your fruits and vegetables in a delicious way. There have been many times that I am on the run and feeling particularly veggie-deficient so I’ll have my Detox Smoothie for dinner. Just make sure you get what you need on a daily basis.

    Thanks for writing in!

  5. What about having a protein smoothie after a workout? Isn’t that a good idea?
    If you’re eating a bunch of carbs in the morning for breakfast then don’t eat any protein before your workout then what will happen? Isn’t a person going to crash if they just eat oatmeal, a little milk, and fruit with no protein…I am concerned.

  6. Yes! When I was referring to a meal before or after a workout that would include smoothies.

  7. So making a smoothie with 20 gms of protein and a bunch of fruit in it is ok before and after a workout? Isn’t that a lot of sugar? I am referring to Tera’s whey recipes.
    I am going to have my family put a scoop of her plain whey powder on their oatmeal for breakfast too! I just don’t think my family gets enough protein in their diets!

  8. Toni what are your thoughts on using the Garden of Life Raw Protein products, non dairy protein instead of whey protein?

  9. The Garden of Life Raw Protein formulations are entirely plant based, and include a variety of high protein ingredients such as brown rice, quinoa, flaxseed, millet and more too numerous to name. All ingredients are organic and it also has a few probiotics in the blend which is always contributes beneficially to gut-health and the immune system.

    All types of proteins, including whey, soy, beef, egg and wheat all have very scientific sounding ratings that determine their bioavailability–such as how well they are digested, their amino acid profile, and biological value–and whey hits the top of the list.

    However if someone prefers to follow a vegan lifestyle, the plant-based proteins are ideal. Comparing the grams of protein in this particular raw protein formulation against whey protein concentrates and isolates, they both “whey” in at 17 grams so fairly equal.

    I’m unable to assess whether a particular food product is good for a particular person without an in person assessment and history, so it’s wise to consult a physician to ensure the foods and ingredients aren’t medically contraindicated. Also, let the gut be the guide, and pay attention to how well the food makes you feel.

    Stay healthy and strong!

  10. Hi Toni!
    I wanted to know how you feel about Tofu. I’m not a vegetarian because I do eat fish and dairy. I buy this Tofu with 14 grams of protein. So many people say Tofu is bad for you? I have your book and want to follow it, how do I include tofu and how do you feel about this?
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Lori,

      It’s great to hear you are making a concerted effort to improve the quality of the food you eat, and ensure you get enough protein too. Soybeans, consumed for centuries, particularly in Asian cultures, are the high-protein seeds of the soy family, and contain isoflavones which are compounds similar to the female hormone estrogen. The primary concern about soy is that it has been thought to effect female hormone production—potentially impacting breast cancer and other health risks–although according to the National Institutes of Health, studies have been inconsistent. Soy has been used traditionally to treat menopause and other conditions however once again, there is no supporting evidence.

      Tofu is the by product of coagulating soy milk, and does offer a good amino-acid profile although there are many other types of protein you may consider that is digested and absorbed better by your body.

      For an in-depth tutorial, visit my YouTube channel for my five part series, The Protein Focus:

      If you’d like to incorporate soy into your diet, try my Edamame Salad featured in my newly revised BITE ME! book, immediately downloadable at this link:

      Now that fall is approaching, it’s a perfect time to cook up some healthy and nutritious soups. You can modify your favorite soup recipe by replacing the cream or milk in a vegetable soup with half chicken broth and half silken tofu. If you have an immersion blender it makes a delightfully light, creamy and flavorful soup that becomes a complete meal with the addition of the protein from the tofu.

      As with anything, variety and moderation is the goal. Use other types of clean proteins such as egg whites, chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, nuts and seeds (in moderation) and nonfat Greek yogurt.

      Keep me posted on your progress!


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