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Nutrition

“I Lost 233 Pounds at Age 62!” — Here Are the Protein Shakes She Used to Jumpstart Weight Loss

“I weight 50 pounds less than I did in high school!” — Monica Michaels

Sometimes our weight loss efforts start out better than we expected. We’re steadily losing, losing, losing, until … we hit a frustrating plateau. That was the case for 62-year-old Monica Michaels, whose trim down efforts suddenly stopped working after she shed 100 pounds. But thankfully, she discovered protein shakes to jumpstart weight loss, which helped her achieve an impressive 233-pound weight loss and restored her health. Keep reading for more of her story and learn how you can use protein shakes to jumpstart weight loss.

How protein shakes jumpstart weight loss

Experts say a sudden switch from solid to liquid food startles your system. “When your body can’t predict what’s coming, it is less efficient,” explains Harvard-trained nutrition expert Ian K. Smith, MD. That means your body becomes less effective at fueling itself, and as a result, you start burning more calories. In fact, as your system flounders, “it stimulates maximum fat burning.” Even a ‘menopause metabolism’ soars — and plateaus are busted! (Plus, protein is key for preventing sarcopenia and improving sleep.)

What’s more, easy-to-digest shakes help older folks absorb more amino acids from protein, causing fat burn in aging muscles to double, per a University of Arkansas study. A daily whey-based shake is also linked to 47% better memory in 12 weeks. Amino acids also help repair damage linked to blood-sugar issues, cutting levels of the hormone insulin by up to half. “When insulin comes down like that, fat burning goes way up,” notes Skidmore College researcher Paul Arciero, PhD. And since healing happens, fat burn stays high even when you switch from shakes back to solid food. (Find our picks for best protein powders for shakes here.)

Protein shakes to jumpstart weight loss success story

Chocolate protein shakes
Getty

“Why does everything have to be so hard?” muttered Monica Michaels, as she struggled with the controls on her van. She was rushing to get to work — and, as usual, her size was slowing her down. Truth was, the Denver-area health tech had gotten so big, she could no longer walk unassisted from the hospital parking garage to her desk. Beep, beep, beep, screeched the van’s lift as it lowered her scooter to the ground. By the time Monica hoisted her body onto the seat, she was perspiring and short of breath. And as she finally pressed the button to move forward, all she could think was: I can’t live life this way anymore

Monica’s urge to change was hardly new. She’d spent decades trying fads, pills, exchange programs, supervised fasts — you name it. I didn’t succeed even when I had more time and energy, thought Monica, now juggling two jobs and helping care for her disabled sister. So later that week, when her mom, Shirley, mentioned going to a TOPS weight-loss support group together, Monica didn’t see much point. But her mom pushed — and once they got to the meeting, Monica was surprised by how welcome she felt. If they have a scale big enough to weigh me, I’ll join, she decided. Her doctor didn’t have a scale big enough … but TOPS did. It revealed she’d reached 423 pounds.

Monica’s weight loss journey begins

In the weeks that followed, the group cheered as Monica made little changes; she kept a food log, limited fast food, pre-portioned snacks. First came amazing success — 19.75 pounds gone in a month, 75 pounds in a year. But as she hit 100 pounds lost, it all stopped. Still over 300 pounds at that point, Monica tried plateau-busting strategies to no avail. A year passed, then two. “People at TOPS seem inspired that I’m not giving up, but I can’t hang on much longer,” she admitted to her mom. Desperate, she visited a weight-loss surgeon, suspecting it was her only hope.

How Monica used protein shakes to jumpstart weight loss

“For three weeks, let’s replace your meals with protein shakes and see if it shocks your body into losing weight again,” the doc suggested, adding that the strategy can work wonders for patients over 50. “I guess it can’t hurt,” Monica said. So she headed to Costco and found inexpensive ready-to-drink shakes with 30 grams of protein each. She stocked up on them in chocolate and caramel flavors. (Love coffee? Mix a shake into a cup of joe to make proffee for weight loss.)

“Here goes nothing,” Monica said the next day, opening her first one. The drinks were tasty, and she got five a day. Still, by midday, she just wanted something to chew. Each day got a bit easier, but a week passed with no weight loss. Then two. By the end of the third week, Monica was feeling energized, a sign her metabolism had picked up. She stepped cautiously on the scale. She was down 8 pounds!

Another protein fix

Though elated, Monica worried a shift back to real food would end her progress. More than one doctor has told me protein is key, she remembered. So she decided to aim for 90 grams a day. A daily shake, plus options like cottage cheese, eggs and chicken helped her hit her new goal. (You can even make high protein bread for weight loss.)

“One thing I notice is that I get full a lot faster now,” Monica told her mom after a protein-rich frozen dinner. Maybe Shirley could take advantage. Inspired by tips she’d learned at TOPS, Monica used a kid-size fork for a few weeks. It helped her slow the speed at which she ate; her body had more time to register it was satisfied, and she felt content eating less. She also began pausing during meals. If she felt full, she stopped eating. And it worked!

Read: “I Lost 130 lbs at Age 53!” — Here’s the Protein Combo That Builds Muscle + Boosts Weight Loss

Monica now, 233 pounds slimmer and healthier

Before and after photos of Monica Michaels who lost 233 lbs with the help of protein shakes
Marla Rutherford

Though she was well past menopause, Monica’s metabolism seemed to burn ever hotter. Before she knew it, she was down 233 pounds. Her sleep apnea, fatty liver and kidney issues — all gone. She got off arthritis meds too. Monica’s advice to others who feel stuck at an unhealthy weight? “It’s never too late to try again,” she says. “At age 62, I weigh 50 pounds less than I did in high school!”

Protein-rich, metabolism-boosting meals to get started

Thanks to her crazy-busy schedule, Monica says, “I don’t have a lot of time to cook.” But she lost 233 pounds anyway! Ready-made shakes are a go-to. “I can even drink them before bed and I don’t gain.” She also loves frozen meals, Starbucks protein boxes and Sargento Balanced Breaks snack packs. What about restaurants? Monica enjoys them too, making healthy picks and allowing herself bites of bread or dessert. “I made tiny changes I could stick with for good, and I’m at a healthy weight for the first time in my life.”

To kick-start stalled weight loss like Monica did, begin by replacing your meals/snacks with five shakes a day for 21 days. Monica used Premier Protein brand. After 21 days, switch to healthy meals like these zero-fuss examples, aiming for 90 grams of protein daily. (Learn why you should eat protein in the morning.) Monica also suggests pausing often to listen to your body; once lightly full, stop eating.

Breakfast

Top protein-rich cereal (such as Kashi Go) with 1⁄2 cup vanilla protein shake and fruit.

Lunch

Enjoy a healthy frozen meal or pack a “lunch box” with protein, veggies, quinoa, and vinaigrette.

Dinner

Pile a low-carb tortilla with low-sugar sauce, cheese, and healthy toppings; broil.

Bonus recipe: Cheesy chips

This crunchy, protein-rich treat is one of Monica’s go-to snacks! Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. any seasoning blend

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Mix cheese and seasoning.
  3. Mound heaping spoonfuls about 2″ apart on lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake until golden. Let cool.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.


For more ways to slim with protein, check out these stories:

Proffee: The Delicious Breakfast Helping Women Over 60 Lose Weight Effortlessly

Eating This Much Protein in the Morning Can Boost Weight Loss, According to Experts

Over 50 and Can’t Lose Weight? What to Know About Sarcopenia + How to Fix It With Protein

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