The Game Changers

5 things The Game Changers teaches us about plant-based nutrition

It’s the new Netflix documentary everyone’s talking about. James Cameron’s The Game Changers follows elite athletes who are thriving on a plant-based diet – debunking several plant-based myths in the…

It’s the new Netflix documentary everyone’s talking about. James Cameron’s The Game Changers follows elite athletes who are thriving on a plant-based diet – debunking several plant-based myths in the process. 

A must-watch if you haven’t already, we take a look at The Game Changers’ compelling case for plant-based nutrition. 

1. A plant-based diet can provide more than enough protein

Patrik Baboumian The Game Changers

“One person asked me how can you get as strong as an ox without eating meat? And my answer was, have you ever seen an ox eating meat?” – Plant-based strongman Patrik Baboumian, The Game Changers. Image Source: Great Vegan Athletes

The doco reminds us that pigs, cows and chickens – and even gorillas, rhinos and elephants get their protein from plants. It is possible to give your body all of the nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) on a plant-based diet, simply by combining different plant-based protein sources – for instance by combining rice with beans, or tofu with quinoa. 

As the essential amino acid profile varies from one plant-based food to another, combining plant-based protein sources is an effective way to ensure your body gets all of the essential amino acids it needs to function at its best. 

2. A plant-based diet can provide adequate energy, and promote a healthy weight

Dotsie Bausch The Game Changers

Transitioning to plant-based was game changing for Silver Medal Olympian Cyclist Dotsie Bausch – ‘the oldest person to go to the Olympics in her event.’

Our muscles and brains thrive on carbohydrates – which are provided almost entirely by plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains like brown rice. 

Glycogen – stored carbohydrate that resides in the liver and muscles – is what provides our muscles with the fuel we need to perform at our best (whether that be running that marathon, or for the everyday person, giving it your all at your gym class). 

Glucose – a sugar that comes from carbohydrates – serves as the main energy source for every cell in the body; it’s also the brain’s preferred energy source. A Harvard article on the link between sugar and the brain explains: ‘Because the brain is so rich in nerve cells, or neurons, it is the most energy-demanding organ, using one-half of all the sugar energy in the body.’ This is why it’s common to experience ‘brain fog’ on a low carb diet. 

By choosing unprocessed wholefoods on a plant-based diet, the carbohydrates you give your body will also be wrapped in nutrients like fibre for blood sugar support and appetite control – so you’ll naturally eat less. 

3. A plant-based diet doesn’t have to fall short on calcium

Marketing by the billion dollar dairy industry has led to the misconception that dairy is the best and/or only source of calcium (the scenario is similar for the meat industry marketing meat as the best and/or only source of iron). But numerous plant-based foods provide significant amount of calcium. 

While it is true that the calcium in some plant-based foods (such as spinach) isn’t so easy to absorb due to the presence of oxalates, natural calcium-binding substances, there are numerous low-oxalate plant-based foods which offer readily-available calcium – especially leafy greens like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale and silverbeet (AKA Swiss chard).  

4. Plant-based can be delicious 

Plant-based meal delivery

Far from bland: Soulara’s Golden Coconut Dahl

From pumpkin pancakes and colourful smoothies, to loaded lasagnes and bean burritos, The Game Changers showcases just how creative you can be with plant-based meals. Eating more plant-based doesn’t have to mean compromising on taste – in fact, with the right preparation and cooking techniques, it can mean more flavour. 

5. A plant-based diet is better for the planet

Some food for thought: a comprehensive 2018 Harvard analysis on the impact of farming on the planet found that meat and dairy agriculture takes up 83 per cent of farmland and contributes to 60% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions – yet provides only 18 per cent of the calories and 37 per cent of the protein that we get from food.

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Published: 08/11/19

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