Have you seen the Netflix documentary Game Changers? I've been getting a lot of questions and seeing a lot of buzz on the internet about it, so I recently watched it to see what all the fuss was about.
Brief synopsis if you don't know what I'm talking about: It's a documentary that seeks to find the truth about animal protein, and specifically follows around successful plant-based athletes to show that eating meat isn't necessary for human performance.
First of all... I feel like "diet" and what is "right" is right up there with how passionate people feel about religion and politics. I'm in a group of 40,000 certified nutrition coaches, and man oh man... things have been heated in there. Honestly, I've tried to stay out of the debate... but I also recognize that to you guys, me and the other nutrition coaches are your filter for nutrition information, so I wanted to give you all my thoughts.
Whenever I'm presented with compelling information, I try to keep an open mind while maintaining something I learned in the accounting world called "professional skepticism." As an auditor, it was my job to not take things for face value.
For the record, I do believe it is possible to be healthy with a range of dietary strategies and I do believe it's possible to be a high performing athlete while on a plant-based diet. My philosophy on nutrition centers around whole, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods... (notice I said nothing about meat).
Do I eat meat? Yes. And I JUST went to get a physical today and my bio-markers are, in the words of the nurse, textbook. So, yes it's possible to eat meat and be healthy.
I've never heard this argument when hearing debates on what dietary protocol is the answer... but physiologically, humans are omnivores. It's just a fact. You can tell because of our ancestry, the way our digestive systems are formed, and our teeth. You wouldn't look at a dog and ask yourself if they'd be healthier eating like a rabbit because dogs are clearly omnivores and rabbits are clearly herbivores.
With that being said, if I had a one on one client who walked into my office tomorrow and wanted to try going vegan, I'd support them and give them resources to do it well. If they noticed things like weight loss and energy increases, I'd look at the data points and assess. Is this person going from the Standard American Diet and a transition to plant-based drastically increase their consumption of fresh veggies? Could that alone be what's driving them to feel better?
I have a client who recently went on an elimination diet and is seeing amazing results with her body composition and energy levels... but is it because she's *really* sensitive to the foods she eliminated, or is it because she's just eating fewer calories as a results of cutting out tree nuts and cheese (something she admits to over indulging in before). I do, however, want to address some of the science claims that the documentary makes, and to do that I'm going to refer you to a podcast by an Integrated Medicine Doctor, Chris Kresser.
Listen to the podcast with the same professional skepticism that you apply to watching Game Changers. Understand that for every "expert" that is saying one way is the "best" way, there's also an expert claiming the opposite... and both usually have data to back themselves up.
At the end of the day, science is confusing. I mentioned that I went to my physical today, and I learned that self breast exams aren't recommended anymore... when 10 years ago I was getting lessons and a calendar on how and when to do them.
Things change. We learn new things. People read and interpret data differently. BUT, if you're always chasing the next thing you're going to feel like you're running in circles. Thank you all for listening to my TED Talk 😆