Transform Your Body Composition with These Simple Dietary Changes

If you’re over 40 and looking to lose fat while maintaining your hard-earned muscle, protein is your secret weapon. In this episode, I reveal the five protein-packed foods you should be eating every day to boost your metabolism, build lean muscle, and achieve your best body yet.

From the incredible benefits of wild salmon and grass-fed beef to the surprising power of Greek yogurt and bone broth, I’ll break down the science behind why these foods are essential for women our age—and show you how easy it can be to get over 100 grams in your diet every day. Plus, I’ll share my top tips for easily incorporating these high-protein foods into your daily diet, so you can start seeing results fast.

Don’t miss out on this game-changing information. Tune in now to learn how you can transform your body composition, increase your strength and energy, and feel your best at any age.


00:01:04 – The common factor among lean women, according to Dr. Bill Campbell’s research.

00:01:47 – The amount of protein research shows is related to  stronger leg muscles and lean body mass.

00:02:43 – The key to make sure you’re losing fat, not muscle, when you’re losing weight

00:03:22 – How protein improves satiety and satisfaction, helping reduce cravings. 

00:05:46 – How to choose the right protein sources for a  better nutrient profile and fatty-acid balance.

00:07:48 – JJ’s favorite source of clean protein, omega-3s, and vitamin D. 

00:11:35 – The best options for boosting the protein in your shakes and smoothies.

00:14:13 – The results of a study on premenopausal women who did resistance training and took collagen peptides.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Download Inner Wellness, Outer Beauty: Your Anti-Aging Cheat Sheet

Amino Power Powder

Butcherbox grass-fed & grass-finished beef

Complete Bone Support

Get your bone broth from Flavorchef

Take my 7-Day Eat Protein First Challenge

Collagen Peptides Powder

Body Composition Scale

Clean Creatine Powder

Vitamin D Plus

The Virgin Diet

Get wild-caught fish and seafood from Vital Choice

Download 5 Gut-Healing Strategies for Lasting Energy & Weight Loss

Magnesium Body Calm

Metabolic Reset

Omega Plus

Get 60 FREE delicious, protein-packed shake recipes in my Eat Protein First Smoothie Guide

Download my free Resistance Training Cheat Sheet

Bone Broth Protein Shakes

Sugar Impact Diet

Check out Zero Acre cooking oils use code VIRGIN15 for 15% off

Study: Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Study: Dietary protein and muscle in older persons


Click Here To Read Transcript

[00:00:00] JJ: I’m JJ Virgin, PhD dropout, sorry mom, turned four time New York Times bestselling author. Yes, I’m a certified nutrition specialist, fitness hall of famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe, but I’m driven by my insatiable [00:00:20] curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions.

[00:00:22] JJ: Digging for answers and sharing the information I uncover with as many people as I can. And that’s why I created the Well Beyond 40 podcast to synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive. In each episode, we’ll talk about [00:00:40] what’s working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism, to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness.

[00:00:47] JJ: Join me on the journey to better health so you can love how you look and feel right now and have the energy to play full out at 100.[00:01:00]

[00:01:04] JJ: My buddy, Dr. Bill Campbell, who runs the only physique and performance lab in the country, it’s over at University of South Florida, and is doing a bunch of research on women, and not just women, menopausal women. Oh my gosh, thank you, Bill. Well, Dr. Bill Campbell says that the [00:01:20] common factor he sees among lean women is A higher protein intake.

[00:01:26] JJ: But not all proteins created equal. Here are some of my favorites that I incorporate into my daily routine. Now, if you want to lose fat, You got to be in a caloric deficit so that your body will burn off [00:01:40] body fat. And you want to make sure that it’s fat you’re burning, not lean tissue. So protein is key here for a couple of reasons.

[00:01:47] JJ: Number one, it’s going to help you hold on to lean mass. There was a study that looked at whether older adults who eat meals containing at least 30 grams of protein more often have stronger leg muscles and lean body [00:02:00] mass. So they used data from adults age you. 50 to 85 and found that those who had one or two meals with 30 grams or more of protein each day had better leg strength and lean body mass than those who didn’t.

[00:02:12] JJ: So this study suggests that having one to two protein rich meals daily can help maintain muscle strength and lean body mass as you age. I’m going to say no. [00:02:20] Three. So our minimum is 30 grams of protein at a meal, ideally 40. 30 is like the minimum there, and at least 100 grams overall. And it’s pretty clear when you start to look at all of the research that people who eat higher protein when they are in caloric restriction are able to hold on [00:02:40] to more lean mass when they do this.

[00:02:43] JJ: So that’s the first important thing. Because remember, if you’re trying to lose fat, You want to make sure that that’s what you’re losing, not protein and, or not muscle. And the way that you do that, the secret to that, is getting in enough protein. And I’m just setting the stage for why I eat these high protein foods each [00:03:00] day.

[00:03:00] JJ: The next reason I do is because they are more thermic. They burn more calories than fat or carbs do. They require 20 to 30 percent of the calories get dissipated in the metabolism and assimilation of the protein. So that’s the next thing. And by the way, contrast that with fat, which is barely [00:03:20] anything, zero to three percent.

[00:03:22] JJ: The next one is that protein improves satiety and satisfaction. You wanted the cravings and you won’t be as hungry. So I have this seven day protein challenge and one of the big things that we do is look at before someone starts like how’s your hunger, how’s your energy, how’s your, um, how are your [00:03:40] cravings.

[00:03:40] JJ: And the number one thing that we hear from people as they go through just seven days is at the end of that they go, I didn’t have cravings. And that’s amazing. That just turns off that food noise that you hear from a lot of these GLP 1 drugs. They have the food noise. Well, protein can help do that as well.

[00:03:57] JJ: Another thing protein can do is help [00:04:00] with blood sugar stabilization. So that’s why I like people to eat protein first. And we know that when you eat protein first, you tend to make better food choices overall. So when you eat a meal, the time protein can make you eat less in the next meal compared to having a meal high in carbs or fats.

[00:04:18] JJ: In other words, [00:04:20] when you eat a high protein meal, it makes you feel fuller and eat less in your next meal. And then of course, We need protein to help us detoxify well. We need to be detoxifying every single day because every single day we are being bombarded by toxins in the air, in the water, in skincare.

[00:04:38] JJ: Even if we have our best [00:04:40] laid plans, if you are in this world, you’re getting bombarded with toxins. And protein helps, helps you get a hold of these toxins and transform them so you can excrete them. Okay, I hope I’ve built the case for why we want to eat protein daily. I’ve got a protein cheat sheet as a little reference [00:05:00] guide for you that you can print out and put on your fridge for easy meal planning and that is at jjvirgin.

[00:05:06] JJ: com forward slash dexavirgin. Protein cheat sheet. Now, as I go through these foods, you’re going to see that I have really focused on animal based products here. And that’s, there’s a very specific reason for this. [00:05:20] When you look at protein quality, you’re looking at a couple things. You’re looking at the basic essential amino acid balance.

[00:05:27] JJ: And I heard someone say this, I wish I could remember who it was to give them credit, but they said, you know, the amino acid profile of plants is amazing. It’s great for growing plants. But we are humans and we are [00:05:40] growing muscle. So the amino acid profile of an animal is going to be a better one for us.

[00:05:46] JJ: And it’s got all the essential amino acids. It’s also more bioavailable and more digestible. A lot of times in plant proteins that, uh, the proteins will also be bound up with fiber, which makes it less digestible. Okay. [00:06:00] Now, one of the things I like to say is you are what you eat, ate. Meaning that if you are eating a, say, a little factory chicken, a battery cage chicken that’s been shoved into a little cage and sprayed with all sorts of stuff, You’re going to get [00:06:20] all of that as well.

[00:06:20] JJ: When you’re eating pastured, grass raised, grass fed, and grass finished, wild fish, wild salmon, grass fed, grass finished beef, pastured pork, and chicken. Totally different because they have a better profile of nutrients, they have better fatty [00:06:40] acid profile, and tend to have better amino acids and phytonutrients and antioxidants.

[00:06:45] JJ: So that’s the first thing, is we want to eat animals that, first of all, have been, have been raised humanely, but have been raised in their natural habitat. And then, we’re also looking beyond just essential amino acids, we’re looking [00:07:00] specifically at one amino acid to help us age powerfully, and that is leucine.

[00:07:04] JJ: And this was research from Dr. Donald Lehman in his lab where he discovered that leucine is the trigger for muscle protein synthesis. But it turns out that leucine might also affect how much food a person eats. It can change how specific pathways in the brain’s [00:07:20] hypothalamus work. Now the hypothalamus is responsible for controlling your appetite and the feeling of being full after eating.

[00:07:27] JJ: Leucine could make you eat less by affecting these pathways in the brain. There’s a couple other things that I’m looking at and I’m going to share as I walk through these foods with you that I’m also looking at as bonus [00:07:40] points is if that food has vitamin D or CLA, that’s a type of fat that can help you burn fat off your waist, omega 3s and creatine.

[00:07:48] JJ: All right, so here we go. Here are the five foods that I incorporate into my diet and the first one is wild salmon. I absolutely love this. Now, here’s what’s cool about wild salmon. Not only are you getting that, [00:08:00] that beautiful, clean, uh, protein from the fish, but you’re also getting those omega 3s. And what we now know about omega 3s is that they can be anabolic.

[00:08:09] JJ: They can enhance muscle protein synthesis. They can reduce muscle protein breakdown, which, of course, that means you’re preserving muscle mass, can enhance fat burning, that can decrease appetite, [00:08:20] can reduce muscle soreness after workouts, and they can lower triglycerides and improve metabolic health. Wow, and omega 3s are also anti inflammatory.

[00:08:30] JJ: So, first off, omega 3s for the win, and depending on which type of fish you’re getting and how much you’re eating, you can get 2 3 grams of [00:08:40] omega 3s in that fish serving. The next thing you can get in that fish serving It’s creatine. You probably wouldn’t think of creatine as being high in fish, but it is.

[00:08:52] JJ: You can get one to two grams of creatine in fish per serving. And the other one, and something that I’ve been adding [00:09:00] into my diet every day to make sure that I get enough in, is taurine. So taurine is rich in fish. I’ve been also adding it in to my pre workout, about one to three grams a day. Um, is what they say to dose it at.

[00:09:13] JJ: I’ve been doing two to three because I’m 140 pounds, but what taurine is great for is muscular endurance. [00:09:20] It helps you work out harder and recover faster. And just like women have less creatine, we also have less tissue stores of taurine. Now, another cool thing that salmon, wild salmon, has is vitamin D, and of course we know vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, it can help promote bone strength, it’s crucial for building [00:09:40] muscle, and maintaining a higher metabolic rate for fat loss.

[00:09:43] JJ: Next one. Now, if you’ve healed your gut, and you’re not dairy intolerant, I love salmon. Grass fed, Greek style yogurt for a couple different reasons. Number one, it’s a great source of calcium, which of course we know, again, strong bones and plays a role in [00:10:00] regulating body fat. And it can also reduce the absorption of dietary fat in the intestines and increase fat excretion.

[00:10:08] JJ: In fact, diets high in calcium can help reduce the amount of fat stored in the cells and may help you lose weight faster, especially when you’re in caloric restriction. Plus, You’ve also got [00:10:20] probiotics, and we know gut health improves digestion and also helps the absorption of nutrients. And Greek style yogurt has B12, which helps convert food into energy.

[00:10:29] JJ: So that’s going to support a healthy metabolism and provide energy for workouts and also help maintain muscle mass. And Greek style yogurt also has [00:10:40] taurine. Now, one of the things I love here with Greek style yogurt is it is low fat. We’re really high in protein for very low calories. I will tell you, I do the Greek style yogurt, the fat free one, because I would rather add in some fat from something like freshly ground flaxseed meal.

[00:10:56] JJ: But what I find is like, it is super high in [00:11:00] protein. Protein. I can stir in a little bit of one of my protein shakes in there as well. I love especially use my bone broth protein shake in there and do like give a little vanilla hint to it. But it’s just an amazing way to get a lot of protein with very low calories.

[00:11:14] JJ: Plus, you could use it where you’re going to use mayonnaise or sour cream or some of these other things. The [00:11:20] other thing we know about Greek style yogurt is it is a great source of leucine. And it’s very low in lactose. So again, if this is one, if you’re dairy intolerant, this may not be a win for you.

[00:11:35] JJ: But if you’re dairy intolerant, quite often I see that it’s not the dairy itself, it’s [00:11:40] actually the casein. And you’ll get casein in Greek style yogurt, so that’s not an option. But you might be able to pull off whey protein isolate, because a whey protein isolate has almost no casein. So that one might work for you instead.

[00:11:54] JJ: Now I mentioned bone broth, and I love to mix in bone broth protein [00:12:00] into Greek style yogurt, but if you cannot do Greek style yogurt, bone broth protein is a great thing that you can use as a shake mix. So bone broth and bone broth protein are definitely something you want to incorporate into your daily diet, and these are ones I get in every single day.

[00:12:17] JJ: I get them because I want the collagen and the amino [00:12:20] acids, the glycine and the proline. To support my joints, to support my muscle recovery, to help with satiety, to help boost BMR, to preserve my lean body mass and stabilize blood sugar. Plus, bone broth and bone broth protein powders are rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium and phosphorus, which of course supports [00:12:40] overall bone health.

[00:12:41] JJ: And calcium can influence the way fat cells store and break down fat. Magnesium is vital for energy production and activates ATP. And phosphorus intake is associated with improved satiety and helps maintain a healthy metabolic rate. Plus, that gelatin in the bone broth, which again, whether you’re doing straight [00:13:00] bone broth, which I love is something that you can just have as a Great hot drink and that might be something you want to do 30 minutes before a meal to help like tame your appetite if you’re getting a little hungry.

[00:13:10] JJ: But that gelatin in there is amazing for gut healing and you also get that in the bone broth protein as well or straight collagen. It’s so amazing for [00:13:20] healing and sealing the gut, which of course you got to have a healthy gut to have good nutrient absorption and good overall health. And if we’re talking just the bone broth itself.

[00:13:30] JJ: So, first of all, great for hydration, but you may not have realized this. It supports, it has natural electrolytes and of course we know those are important [00:13:40] for muscle function and recovery. Now, the big thing about collagen that you hear all the time, which bone broth is providing collagen, bone broth protein is basically 80 percent collagen.

[00:13:52] JJ: The big thing you’ll see is it’s, it’s not complete with essential amino acids and that is true. But there was a study that wanted to see what would [00:14:00] happen when Pre menopausal women did resistance training like weightlifting and then took specific collagen peptides. So they had 77 perimenopausal women do resistance training three times a week for 12 weeks.

[00:14:13] JJ: Now half of them took 15 grams of collagen peptides every day and the other half took a placebo. Here’s [00:14:20] what they found. The group taking the collagen peptides significantly increased their muscle mass. without increasing fat, and it was more than the group that took the placebo. Now, both groups decreased their body fat percentage, but the group taking the collagen peptides had a greater reduction in body [00:14:40] fat.

[00:14:40] JJ: The group taking collagen peptides had a stronger hand grip than the group that only did resistance training. Now, this is important because hand grip strength is a huge, um, correlator of body fat. Overall strength and very closely tied to all cause mortality, meaning that if you have very poor grip strength, you have a higher risk of all [00:15:00] cause mortality.

[00:15:00] JJ: Both groups increased their leg strength, but the group taking the collagen peptides had a bigger increase in leg strength. So what’s that mean for you? When you do resistance training and you take collagen peptides, you could have more muscle mass, you could have less body fat, and you’ll get stronger overall than if you [00:15:20] don’t take it.

[00:15:20] JJ: So what the heck? That’s an easy one. And again, this is one that I take every single day. I actually feel the best when I’m eating more grass fed, grass finished beef. I probably eat it four times a week, and I always go for the lean cuts. I used to be the ribeye girl. I’m like, nope, not anymore. Now I stick with fillets, [00:15:40] tenderloins, and, um, a very lean grass fed beef.

[00:15:44] JJ: And why do I like them? For a couple different reasons. Number one, for the CLA. Now, CLA is a type of fat that’s been linked to reduced body fat and improved lean muscle mass. In fact, there’s been studies that have shown that people who are eating a CLA rich diet tend to lose more [00:16:00] fat around their belly.

[00:16:02] JJ: Plus, grass fed beef has creatine and carnosine, and these are both important for muscle energy metabolism and performance enhancement. And, like we talked about before with the fish, grass fed beef is also a source of omega 3s. And this is when you compare grass fed to grain fed [00:16:20] So grass fed beef’s got omega 3s.

[00:16:22] JJ: Grain fed beef tends to be more of the AAs, the omega 6s, the inflammatory fats. So you’ve got anti inflammatory fats that help you with muscle recovery and muscle growth and reducing inflammation. Plus, as compared to grain fed beef, this [00:16:40] type of this beef is so much more nutrient deficient. It’s got antioxidants, it’s got phytonutrients, it’s got B vitamins, zinc and iron.

[00:16:48] JJ: So it’s just a powerhouse for you to get. I think the final one and the one that tends to get the like boring rap is chicken breast. But here’s the thing with chicken breast, it’s like super duper lean. So it’s a great low [00:17:00] calorie protein source. So it’s like perfect for a little fat loss diet. It’s easy to cook a bunch and keep it in the fridge.

[00:17:06] JJ: It’s got B6 and niacin which are crucial for energy metabolism. And, you know, helps your body use food for fuel. Plus, it’s a great source of leucine. 30 grams of [00:17:20] chicken protein, which is basically four ounces of chicken breast, is 2. 5 grams of leucine. So this is an easy one. But I think in just terms of ease of use, get yourself some pastured chicken.

[00:17:31] JJ: And this is one, you know, when you’re cooking it, cook enough so that you have around for lunch each day. That’s what I just had for lunch today, was I had some, some chicken breast. Just, you know, Easy. [00:17:40] Eating protein first and especially incorporating these five things that I talked about into your diet, it’s really a no brainer when you know all of its amazing benefits for your body composition and your overall health.

[00:17:52] JJ: But if you are overwhelmed, wondering how you’re going to get all that protein in every day, you’re going to want to join my free 7 day challenge that’s designed to [00:18:00] show you how easy it can be. And I’m going to send you that if you go to jjvirgin. com forward slash 7 day. Then you’ll want to watch this next video where I show you my favorite quick and easy lunches that helped me get over 140 grams of protein each day.

[00:18:14] JJ: And 140 grams is because I weigh 140 and I, my goal is to get a gram per pound of [00:18:20] body weight each day. So you’re going to see how easy it is to do.

[00:18:26] JJ: Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great. And more importantly, that you’re built to last. And check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my [00:18:40] website, jjvirgin. com. And make sure to follow my podcast so you don’t miss a single episode at subscribetojj.

[00:18:47] JJ: com. See you next time.

[00:18:59] JJ: Hey, [00:19:00] JJ here. And just a reminder that the Well Beyond 40 podcast offers health, wellness, fitness, and nutritional information That’s designed for educational and entertainment purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

[00:19:16] JJ: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should [00:19:20] always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Make sure that you do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have heard on the show or read in our show notes.

[00:19:32] JJ: The use of any information provided on the show is solely at your own risk.
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