Last weekend I logged into Netflix to watch the much anticipated documentary, The Game Changers. Have you had a chance to watch it on Netflix yet? If not, I would certainly recommend because it is well filmed and thought provoking! I have asked all of my personal training clients in Brighton and Hove to watch.
A key takeaway from the documentary surrounds the notion that by eating animals we are just eating ‘the middlemen’. This is because animals eat a largely plant based diet. So we are therefore better off going straight for the plants for all of our nutritional needs. There is also the ethical consideration here too, though the film was less about this and more about the science.
The second main point explores the science behind why eating meat causes inflammation within the body. This then restricts blood flow and causes tiredness. The documentary goes further into depth about how athletes have recovered from injury quicker from eating a plant based diet. This is because increased blood flow enhances oxygen and nutrient delivery to the damaged tissues, boosting recovery.
For example, the natural compounds found in blueberries can help alleviate inflammation and oxidative damage. This damage is associated with age-related problems in memory and motor function. Try putting blueberries in your morning porridge, or blend frozen blueberries with live yogurt in a smoothie. I certainly believe that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduces inflammation within the body. Personally, I find that antioxidants boost recovery from my own training sessions.
Of course, many variables determine how fit you are. Staying active and eating a nutrient-packed diet can go some way to protect you against age-related diseases. By looking after yourself to the best of your ability you can help boost your body’s natural defence systems against conditions such as cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
Does it preach about becoming a vegan?
What I particularly liked about the documentary was that it did not preach about becoming vegan. But instead largely focussed on the experiences of athletes recovering from injury. It also focussed on the sense of wellbeing and energy levels from not eating meat.
I do believe that eating less meat in our diet and focusing on beans and pluses for our protein requirements is a sensible approach. However, I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on the general population, rather then high-end athletes. This is because there are challenges achieving the daily protein requirements for weight-loss in a vegan diet. Indeed, as a personal trainer in Brighton and Hove, 80% of my clients initial goal is weight loss. For the convenience and nutritional benefits, high quality free range organic eggs are something that I recommend my clients to eat.
Of course, with careful planning and preparation, a vegan diet can provide all of your protein needs. Good examples are quinoa, lentils and beans as a substitute. We are very lucky in Brighton to have many options to find vegan food on the go. Indeed, for the last 2 years I have personally changed from a whey protein to a vegan protein shake. Again, I believe it is sensible to reduce lactose intake where possible to reduce inflammation in the gut.
As a personal trainer in Brighton and Hove, I also train runners and cyclists. Before a big event I recommend that meat consumption is minimal in the days leading up to the event. This is because protein takes longer to be processed. This uses vital energy. The thermogenic effect of protein is however beneficial for weight loss.
So in conclusion, it really depends on your starting point and your goal, weather it is weight-loss or performance!