Ok, I know I am late to the game here (pun intended) but I wanted to let the dust settle and let us all get acclimated to the New Year. If you are not aware, there was a documentary that was released last year on Netflix called “The Game Changers” and it made big waves in the nutrition and health industry. As you probably know I have opinions on most everything that graces its presence in the nutrition world, so let me give you The Game Changers Review from my sassy brain, hold on tight.
What is The Game Changers Documentary?
If you’ve been living under a rock OR you just don’t live and die by every last nutrition news article that comes out (serisouly, good on ya!), the documentary The Game Changers came out last September (2019) and it made almost everyone I talked to who had watched it (minus my Sassy Warriors) want to go “plant-based” or should I say Vegan immediately.
Now, this is not going to be a hate on Vegans article so calm it down already, I have plenty of clients who live a Vegan lifestyle and never once have I turned them away. Let me first say, I respect your decision as a human being to eat however you see fit for YOU. What I do not resepect is fear mongering nutrition advice that is not evidence based and is more for propaganda than education.
The Game Changers documentary is all about how top athletes have switched to a “plant-based” (anytime you read this phrase or hear it in this documentary, read: vegan) diet and have seen not only improved health but also improved performance as a result. The documentary follows many (vegan-based) doctors and health professionals as well as athletes and other unsuspecting and uneducated humans they deemed fit for this documentary using “science” and “reasearch” (i use quotations heavily here) to show why a “plant-based” (once again, read: vegan) is superior to any and all diets.
Ok, before I give my full review of this documentary, let’s back up for one moment. I was introduced to the word “plant-based” almost 2 years ago now. When I first heard it I thought nothing of it. I thought “huh, I’m plant based because I eat a ton of fruits and vegetables.” End thought. Then, all of a sudden I was seeing and hearing the word EVERYWHERE. I even went to a “plant-based” event only to find out that plant-based ACTUALLY was code for Vegan or at least mostly Vegan diet/lifestyle.
Once, again, not hating on vegans I have clients and friends that choose that lifestyle. My issue with plant-based is that it has been used as a way to re-invent veganism. Ever heard the phrase “you can polish a turd but it’s still a turd.” Yeah, so that’s what we have going on here.
Why I hate this phrase? It makes those of us who are plant-based or as I’ve heard someone say “plant-forward” not worthy of calling ourselves that if we choose to eat animal products. We no longer can use the phrase because it’s either all or nothing. If you know anything about me or my way of educating nutrition, all or nothing is a no go for me.
Sassy’s The Game Changers Review
Fun fact, I actually sat down with a local trainer and discussed my thoughts on The Game Changers, check that out here if you prefer video content. I have been waiting to give my review because I wanted to gather enough data AND make sure I was listening to both sides. However, I can tell you, sitting down to watch this documentary was PAINFUL. I have gone through a ton of schooling as well as worked with so many clients and know that nutrition is NOT black or white and it is not as matter of fact as this documentary would have you believe. Not to mention when you see the names James Cameron, Arnold Schwazzeneger and Jackie Chan you can’t help but chuckle, would you EVER sign up to get nutrition coaching for producers, directors or actors?!!? NO! So then why would you allow them to coerce you via a documentary?
Anywho, there was a lot wrong with this documentary. They had a lot of hokie “science” and “research” and I think they spent far too much time on the things they think people want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
Sassy’s Fact Check
Let’s get into some of the points of the documentary that need a little clarification:
- Gladiators were plant-based. Okay, first of all, we have evolved since those days and we live FAR longer. Not to mention the article they mention basically state in the research article that the gladiator diets were mixed and also inconclusive:
“First, the dietary plant-to-meat ratio approach experienced a major correction by Burton and Wright. They showed that Sr/Ca ratios in bone reflect the Sr/Ca ratio of the strongest Ca supplier rather than the whole plant-to-meat ratio of a multicomponent diet. This limits future Sr/Ca studies to identifying the major Ca source of the diet.”
“This leads to the conclusion that the individuals from the gladiator cemetery were a very heterogeneous group who consumed different kind of foods.”
Animal-based diets cause cloudy plasma. OKAY, first of all, duh, second of all we know that a higher saturated-fat diet can cause higher lipids in the blood. What they fail to mention is how you could STILL consume animal products and reduce saturated-fats ahem fish.
- Humans aren’t meant to consume dairy. This is a HUGE debate too big for a short documentary. Check out Alan Aragon’s commentary on it. Also, the QUALITY of dairy should be mentioned as well as the phrase “it depends.”
- Male erections are improved with a plant-based diet. Well if this isn’t a Hollywood ploy I don’t know what is. What male (or female for that matter) wouldn’t be excited (pun intended) by this “Evidence”. Let’s make a HUGE note here, that the study of 2 males over 2 nights is not scientifically sound enough to prove ANYTHING. There are so many factors going into this (hello quality of diet prior to plant-based as well as placebo effect). Yes, science has shown elevated serum cholesterol may impact male ED but it does not show that a plant-based (read: vegan diet) is the solution. Men, you can still eat meat. End rant.
- Enviromental Impact. Once again this is FAR TOO BIG of a debate to be casually mentioned in a documentary where clearly they are biased AF.
- Vegan no matter what (i.e. eat vegan processed food over animal foods). This is ridiciulous on so many accounts. If you are going to go vegan for health reasons, by all means, processed chicken-less nuggets are not in fact going to give you the same results that fresh fruit and veggies will, see the research here.
There’s also many other facts that need checking in this movie but the above ones made me cringe, so that is all I will leave you with.
Okay, here’s the thing, you’re going to be inundated with many new nutrition concepts this year, that I cannot change. What I can change is how you approach and respond to those nutrition concepts.
Be a healthy skpetic AND trust your own body. If you cannot do either of those,hire a professional, that’s what we are here for.
As far as what my verdict is on The Game Changers Documentary? Here are my major takeaways:
- Absolutely eat more plants (doesn’t almost EVERY diet tell you that though?!).
- Subjective anectodal evidence should not be deemed as scientific evidence and recommendations for the public
- Be responsible with the protein that you eat. I’m not sure why this was NEVER brought up but we owe it to ourselves and our planet to look into the quality of the food we are consuming. Check out Diana Rodgers for some excellent information on this.
- Find balance in your diet and what works for YOU. End of story.
- Elite Athetes are going to rise to the top (with grit–read this book) regardless of diet–and that’s coming from the mouth of a dietitian
- Stop watching documentaries funded by Hollywood Directors and Big Wigs. You wouldn’t trust them to fix your teeth so why let them tell you how to eat?
Verdict: Eat more plants, focus on the quality of your animal consumption, stop watching biased documentaries and seek help (when needed) from an expert.
Resources & Reviews
If you want to check out some others in the field (I will add more as I find them) that I respect and trust to delve deeper into their The Game Changers Review, check them out here:
The goal of all of this is to give you the information you need to make the best decision for yourself. You are, afterall, the CEO of your body and at the end of the day you get to decide what you do and do not eat. Remember that everyone is different so some people may very well benefit from a vegan lifestyle while others may benefit from a more meat-based diet. There is no one size fits all and if you believe that you have not spent enough time deep diving into the food and nutrition space.
Feel free to comment below with any questions you have or other topics you would like me to break down next!
Pin Now, Change Games Later
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