Game Changers Film Review Part 2

Have you seen the Game Changers film yet? Last week we broke down the specific athletes, but now we are going to dive into the medical science and determine if they were telling the truth or more vegan propaganda!

Hello everyone Floyd Meyer here. The first real medical professional in the film is Dr. James Loomis who is the former team physician for both the St. Louis Rams and the Cardinals.  He discusses the idea that meat is not what gives you energy. In fact, the majority of energy that you use especially for short duration high-intensity exercises like those most athletes partake in comes from muscle glycogen aka carbohydrates.

The idea that meat gives you the energy for exercise is a falsehood that is prominent both in the general public and in the athletic community. Now I could nitpick at this idea and talk about how you can use gluconeogenesis to create carbohydrates from the breakdown products of eating meat, but I’m going to give the documentary some credit for this segment. Most people do need to eat carbohydrates in order to optimally perform especially when we are talking about high-intensity short-duration exercises.

They then go on to talk about the myth that you need to get protein from animal sources in order to be strong and build muscle. And yes this is a myth. But they didn’t stop there they then go on to talk about a study where they looked at protein intake in “meat-eaters” vs “plant-eaters” and say that plant-eaters generally get more protein in their diet than meat-eaters.

Now, this is complete nonsense because of something called the healthy patient bias. If you look at someone on a plant-based diet, obviously they are very health conscious. They are going to be much more aware of their dietary intake and are going to be more likely to monitor their protein intake vs just looking at the general population who doesn’t spend more than 30 seconds a week thinking about their macronutrient intake. 

Besides that, the protein density in animal products are going to be much higher than those found in plant foods despite what this film tries to portray. For example, an 8oz steak has about 55g of protein. To get the same amount of protein you would need to eat 2 whole cans of black beans (about 25g of protein each), or if you wanted to eat broccoli which is constantly being touted as a protein powerhouse by vegan pages online you would need to eat 21.5 full cups.


They also discuss amino acid composition and yes they are correct that if you get the right ratios of amino acids from your diet it does not matter if the protein is coming from plants or animals, but it is much more difficult to get those correct amino acid compositions unless you are extremely intelligent with your plant-based diet. This is why these athletes are able to perform so well even though they are on an entirely plant-based diet because they are extremely regimented with their diets.

Now that we have the basic nutrition out of the way let’s move on to inflammation. They say that eating a plant-based diet can decrease inflammation significantly in a short amount of time. What they leave out in the film is that the majority of the improvements that are seen when switching to this type of diet come from weight loss. In fact, you can easily get the same amount of improvement in inflammation levels with caloric restriction regardless of changing your diet to a completely plant-based one. Simply losing weight decreases inflammation regardless of how you do it. That’s why people feel better when they go on all kinds of different diets from vegan to carnivore. Decrease the calories, lose some weight, and decrease the inflammation.

Now we get to heart disease which is a complicated discussion. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States. The main character’s father, unfortunately, had a heart attack, but luckily he was able to get to the hospital in time to get a stent placed. So they start speaking with Dr. Ornish who is a world-renowned physician in the world of heart disease. He has a very successful practice that has shown the reversal of heart disease risk factors and even decreasing plaque in the heart using a plant-based diet in conjunction with an entire lifestyle change protocol.

They then interview multiple cardiologists who are all big proponents of the vegan diet and most of them have either books or products based on eating plant-based. They go on to make some profound claims that “when you eat animal products you form plaque in your arteries”. They say that this is not due to the saturated fat in the animal products but the animal products themselves regardless of fat content.  They also say that those people who get their protein from plants reduce their risk of heart disease by 55%. So there is a lot to unpack here and we really don’t have time to dive into the small details of diet and heart disease. If you want to see that go horribly wrong watch this episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.

What they don’t tell you is that inflammation is the main driver of heart disease and the main driver of inflammation is not animal products, it is the overconsumption of food in general that overloads your metabolism. Overweight and obese people have higher levels of inflammation regardless of their specific diet. And those people who lose weight decrease their inflammation levels regardless of the diet that they follow to do so.

Also despite the film saying that the vegan diet is the only diet that can help with heart disease, diets like the Mediterranean diet, or the DASH diet have been shown to decrease markers of inflammation and heart disease. So no, you don’t need to be a vegan to prevent heart disease. Many omnivores don’t have heart attacks and many vegans do have heart attacks. There is more to the story than what this film sets out to portray. The main point is eating plant-based is a good idea for health and longevity. As they say in the film, “A couple salads a week just doesn’t cut it.” But do you need to cut out all meat in order to be healthy? No!

In summary, there are 2 main points made in the film that I believe are accurate. The first is that protein does not give you energy for exercise. That is done primarily through muscle glycogen especially when we are talking about sort burst of high-intensity exercise.

The second point is that you don’t need to eat meat in order to get protein. Yes, there is protein in vegetables and fruits. But what matters is exactly how much protein you are getting in a day and if you getting all of the essential amino acids in the correct ratios. That is what matters when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass. It is possible to get your protein from plant sources, but you will need to be diligent and will almost definitely need supplementation to do so if you are an athlete.

It is really important to point out that nutrition science is inherently difficult to do. We just don’t have the means to accurately measure every single food that a person eats throughout their lifetime and how that will affect their health. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything, but making very strong statements like meat always causes cancer and heart disease should raise red flags. There are a lot of other variables. For instance when looking at red meat consumption what are these individuals eating with the red meat. Are they having a grass-fed steak with tons of veggies, or are they eating a hamburger from McDonald’s with fries and a soda? Both of which would show up as positive for eating meat on an epidemiological survey. Many of these studies don’t account for these variables not because they don’t want to, but because much of this research comes from patients recalling what they ate the day or week before.

All and all I did enjoy this film. I just wish they would have spent more time detailing the successful athletes that are eating plant-based as well as detailing what they actually eat on a daily basis instead of creating this false dichotomy where you have to eat all plants or you are going to die of heart disease, cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

Plant-based diets are effective for athletic performance as well as longevity.  Not vegan, not vegetarian, plant-based. Meaning mostly plants.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below. Make sure you are subscribing and following for more great content. Again this is Floyd Meyer reminding you to Eat Better so you can Do More!




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