The Netflix documentary ‘The Game Changers’ has generated a lot of interesting debate of late – with some strong opinions on the topic of vegan/vegetarian diets vs. meat-eaters.
With high protein foods & beverages gaining more popularity in the health and wellbeing market in the last few years, knowing what you need – depending on your individual makeup – and your energy requirements is really important, even more so for athletes.
There is a lot of evidence showing that protein intake is a complex area and requires attention. Quantity, type, timing, macro and micronutrients combining – all on the list of considerations.
Protein has always been positioned as the important nutrient for athletes, with a big emphasis on animal sources as the ultimate in ‘strength food’. But, robust epidemiological studies indicate that a high intake of animal protein, particularly red meat, may increase the risk of age-related diseases. This is due to excessive protein intake being associated with cellular-signalling molecules known to block longevity-promoting processes in the body. These studies propose that moderate protein intake plays a critical role in extending longevity and metabolic health.
However, other research clearly indicates that insufficient protein may be associated with sarcopenia and frailty in elderly populations which is harmful to longevity.
And in yet another camp we have the needs of athletes – professional or casual – and what they need for their energy outputs.
Digesting the science alone is enough to give you a headache.
Nutrition as a whole (not just protein) needs a sophisticated and individualised approach at all stages of life. Our needs change…
- as we age
- as our exercise regimens change
- for females – throughout hormone cycles & pregnancy
- for kids (especially teenagers) – through growth periods and hormonal changes
…so you can see the need for the tailored approach.
The Game Changers didn’t put any of the featured athletes in context – we weren’t given any background into the supplements they were taking, their lifestyles, hydration levels, amount and type of training per day, or their stress levels. The regular viewer potentially being lead to a probable conclusion that being vegan must be the golden ticket to strength, speed, endurance…superman status??
My advice, take on board the comment made by Bruce Lee:
- research your own experience
- absorb what is useful
- reject what is useless
- add what is specifically your own
And my tuppence-worth – consult a professional who can work with you to get the best from your body.