The Netflix Documentary Causing Debate In The Fitness World
Long has the debate raged on between those who believe in plant-based diets and those who can’t pass up a good steak for all things protein. Netflix’s new documentary, The Game Changers - produced by a fleet of pro-athletes including Novak Djokovic, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton and Chris Paul - has reignited the divide between athletes and nutritionists by asking the question, is there about to be a vegan revolution in professional sport?
The Game Changers focuses on why plant-based diets are a vital driver for elite performers, and in effect essential to optimising overall health of athletes. It has become iTunes top-selling documentary of all time in under a week.
Numerous case studies are presented by the film’s narrator James Wilks, a retired mixed martial artist who trains fighting techniques to government agencies. After a career-ending injury Wilks discovered the benefits of eating a plant-based diet to help his recovery.
Wilks embarks on a journey following numerous professional athletes on a broad spectrum, including German Strong Man, Patrik Babouman and the Titan’s NFL footballer, Derrick Morgan, who successfully transitioned from eating meat to cutting it out altogether.
The film argues that any animal consumption meaning, dairy products, meat and eggs can not only obstruct athletic performance but can cause serious artery issues and lead to an earlier death. The film claims that ‘drinking beetroot juice can increase someone’s bench press by 19%,’ and a peanut butter sandwich is a superior source of protein to that of eggs. Bold statements, made by scientists and vegans who say they thrive off an all-plant based diet.
To gain a different perspective on the matter, we spoke to one of the AFL’s top performers, Scott Pendlebury, captain of the Collingwood football club. “Chris Mayne is on a plant-based diet, and he thinks his performance and recovery have improved since adopted it about 4-5 years ago,” Pendlebury explains. “There is only a small minority of players who would be vegans, a lot of players probably have tried it but moved away from it because of how prepared you need to be. It's fairly restrictive for young guys in terms of places they go and where they eat out and they also wouldn’t be as educated in and around what decisions need to be made.”
When asked about his diet, Pendlebury explains he just focuses on consuming whole foods. “I just try to eat mostly whole foods. A big one for me is watching my calories by controlling what I eat and the amount - at my age I can’t afford to be carrying excess kilo’s because they will impact my performance.”
So does an all-plant based diet really boost athletic performance?
While it seems there are points on both sides of the argument, we'd have to agree with Pendlebury here in that it really depends on you.
“I’m not sure it would boost performance, for some, it might help them, and they’ll stick with it, and general health-wise you’d find a lot of different responses, I feel pretty good and have throughout my career on what I like to think is a pretty clean diet I eat a little bit of meat (maybe one meal a day).”
The Game Changers is on Netflix and Itunes.