The Game Changers - A Dietitian's Review

dietitian review game changer

So, even after one and a half years, we are still seeing more confusion and curious eyes regarding "The Game Changers" film on Netflix (I am specifically NOT calling it a documentary...).  Get the REAL truth here!

If you're in a rush and just want to get the quick truth/load down, I just want to help educate people with some truth, so the point of this article is basically to say: It's a BIG NO from me. 

First of all, I really respect those who choose to eat plant-based (be it plant-forward, vegan, vegetarian, or whatever lifestyle you chose). So in short: NO hate to those who choose to eat this way - your choice is your choice. But it shouldn't be portrayed as the ONLY choice, okay? Or the BEST choice (as it comes across in "The Game Changers"). We all need to choose what works for us; and our own health. We are all individuals, with individual goals and individual health concerns, so our diets should be tailored according to that. Nutrition, diet, and HEALTH, in general, is NEVER ever ever ever a one-size-fits-all solution.  


QUALITY OF "FACTS"

INACCURATE CONCLUSIONS, TWISTING HALF-TRUTHS TO FIT THE AGENDA

This film felt more like a sports drink advertisement or some sort of propaganda to suit their own agendas than true, factual nutrition advice or education. The facts and so-called "evidence" are cited completely inaccurately; bending the truth to make it fit the theory. Feels a lot more like a Hollywood film - not a scientifically, evidence-based documentary as it is trying to be. I also need to add, the facts or  "proof" they refer to, are based on inconclusive findings or inaccurately quoted to boost the "plant-based" a.k.a. VEGAN agendas. 

Plant-based eating usually refers to the inclusion of plants in your regular diet - But in this film, they play with that word SUPER loosely and "confuse" it with 100% conversions to VEGANISM. They say plant-based, but actually, they're trying to bully everyone into a vegan diet... 

They never specify what type of vegan or plant-based foods to then choose. Are they just looking at beans as a replacement? Or highly-processed, refined vegan products where other preservatives/salt or other ingredients could be added - rendering it not so "healthy" anymore!

When they did their own "experiments" - they did it with SO many limitations (come on, using only 3 participants? Without paying attention to the backgrounds of these people, their health/nutritional status before this one test/examination). We are completely left in the dark regarding the scientific details of these "tests" since they did not publish any concrete studies in any journals before making these strong claims (hmmm, I wonder why it didn't make the cut? I'm joking, we know why). So, basically: Ignore their findings during the "Burrito study", and "Male Erection study" ... 


TUNNEL VISION:

ONLY FOCUSED ON ONE DISEASE - NOT THE PERSON AS A WHOLE

A few times they zoom into one specific condition were eating more plants can assist in treating the condition - like cholesterol - but completely miss the point WHY the "plant approach" will work (think, saturated fat content vs unsaturated fats; think fiber...). They forget that the body is extremely complicated AND they forget that you need to look at the person as a whole. If they are trying to convince people with for example cholesterol to go VEGAN (as they are pushing for), what about that person's iron levels? Vitamin B12? Calcium? Kidney function? Hmmm?? Nothing... That's what I thought! So while focusing solely on that one condition, they are trying to pass it off as being the ONLY- BEST- HEALTHIEST option available overall.

  • Side-thought: Which cholesterol levels were they looking at: There are different "categories" of total cholesterol and if different categories are not in healthy ranges, there are various treatment options to correct each one. But this is a story for another day!


SPORT NUTRITION

THEIR "PROOF" IS BASED ON ANECDOTES

Sports nutrition is incredibly complicated - A diet plan will differ from athlete to athlete: Each person's bodily systems use different sources for energy (some athletes might use fat more effectively, others might benefit from more protein); also depending on the complete medical and health status of the person, age, gender and of course the TYPE of sport! Nutrition during the "off-season"-period is a different aim than that before a large competition or game, and again it differs for recovery!!! 

Individualized nutrition is key.


LET'S TALK ABOUT PROTEIN

One area they got it (almost) right: Is when they said that athletes/people don't only have to find protein in ANIMAL products. That is 100% true. We do have other sources of protein... (though, I NEED to add a little evidence-based truth: Plant-based protein sources are low-biological value proteins: meaning they are less likely to be well absorbed by our bodies). The plant-based proteins also do not have the ideal "amino acid" profile: They spoke about non-essential vs essential amino acids. 
  • Non-essential amino acids: Amino acids that can be produced by our bodies
  • Essential amino-acids: Amino acids that our bodies can't produce so we need to acquire them from the DIET
    • Plant-based proteins do have all the essential amino acids, ANIMAL PRODUCTS TOO, but plants contain LESS of the essential amino acids in comparison to animal-based protein sources. 

My professional recommendation will ALWAYS be: 

 BALANCE. 

Sure, swap some of your meaty meals for a plant-based option, maybe 2 or 3 times a week. Like the true intention of what being "plant-based" is all about!

How?

Look at your "unprocessed" plants though: Lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans, etc. Plants bring brilliant nutrients to the diet (I do not want to sound rude, but DUH!, we have been preaching to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits for millennia!). 
But do not ignore that bodily systems require animal products, too: Iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium, etc. We need both sources for success. 

When in doubt, talk to a REAL expert: A registered dietitian. Talk to the nutritional guru who studies for years, who completes thorough, regulated training, and is legally required to stay up to date with the latest studies, nutritional evidence, and recommendations to practice. Please do NOT look to some sporty person on Netflix... 

If you are following a plant-based diet, you can check in with a dietitian to make sure you are still maintaining a healthy nutritional status.

EATING FOR THE FUTURE

In the film, they are strongly advocating against the "meat industry" as a whole, basically throwing serious shade on them as the largest culprits in climate change and blaming them for the whole problem. According to this film: Vegan diets (or as they want to keep saying: "plant-based diets") are the BEST or even only way to save the planet. Truth? THAT is a cop out, it is taking the coward's way out. 
For the ultimate "planet proof" diet, we need to look at a lot more than only meat consumption. This is a very sensitive subject, and ethically different to various people. We need to RESPECT each other, remember that! 

Amongst other things, here are some tips on how we can make a positive change: 
  • Yes, you can go meat-free a few times a week (by choosing whole foods as a substitute: think of lentils, peas, beans, etc. as mentioned above) - but you don't need a Netflix film to bully you into 100% vegan diets!
  • Limit or reduce the use of "single-use plastics"
  • Limit and reduce water wastage
  • Buy local: Choose to buy fresh, locally produced vegetables and fruits (and other food products)
  • Reduce and avoid food wastage: Plan meals, save leftovers, do not over-buy and end up throwing half the fridge out; have it for an easy lunch the next day, etc. MAKE A PLAN

My last irritated comment:

There was NO interview or conversation with a REGISTERED DIETITIAN throughout the whole 85 minutes of this "documentary"! I mean, what more proof do you need that they are missing the point?

My final verdict: It's a NO from me.

Written from a generalized health point of view. Always consult a dietitian for disease-specific nutritional advice.

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