Blog Post

The Game Changers: A Review From the Perspective of a Dietitian

The Game Changers Netflix Documentary

When The Game Changers documentary came out on Netflix, I felt I had to watch it as I am a dietitian specialising in strength athletes and I have a bit of a presence on Instagram. I had a crazy number of questions coming in about the documentary.

Nutrition documentaries typically have a lot of bias and do not represent the totality of the evidence well. This is a common theme because honestly, the fundamentals of nutrition typically are not that interesting for the average person.

To really bring in an audience they need to make bold claims.

Nobody is interested in hearing what they have heard before. People want new and different. They want something that is a bit of a “secret” that can help them get abnormal results.

Since I’ve waited so long to write about this, I’ve had time to watch it multiple times as well as listen to the debates on the Joe Rogan Podcast, in addition to reading other reviews of The Game Changers as well.

There have been some brilliant reviews done already. I am just compiling my own thoughts in a way that I can direct people when they ask.

James Wilks

James Wilks

I am going to start by discussing James Wilks. The documentary is built around his journey of discovering how plant-based diets could be beneficial for him as an athlete, and how they could benefit other athletes. Or those looking to improve their health.

Even that aspect alone is worthwhile. It is a crucial part of why the documentary got so many views.

People like stories.

Stories are an effective way to spread information to in a more effective way than just stating facts.

People typically DO NOT like to be spoken down to. They do not like to just listen to an expert sharing their expertise.

Instead, most people prefer to go on a journey with somebody learning alongside them. James frames himself as a “meat-eater” near the start of the film, which helps people relate.

This is also why people who are not experts in nutrition often have so much success in selling nutrition books or products.

For example, Michael Mosely is a journalist/doctor but has one of the highest-selling nutrition books. It is based on the 5:2 diet. In this book, he mentions how he was “surprised to learn how a glass of skim milk has 10g of protein.”

The Fast Diet 5:2

That is a relatively basic nutrition fact. The guy claiming to have just learnt that, is the same guy writing a best-seller on the topic not long after.

Do you want to learn from somebody who has only recently learned a basic fact in an area? Or would you rather learn from somebody who has been an expert for a longer period and has dedicated their life to a topic?

When it is framed like that, most people THINK they want the latter. But in reality, most people find it easier to be open to learning when they feel like they are on a journey with the person they are learning from.

The amount of times James Wilks says “I was surprised to learn” in this documentary is eerily similar to that example.

James Wilks is a smart guy. He mentions how he spent 10,000 hours reading studies, to position himself as worth listening to. Then goes on to undersell how smart he is for a lot of the film.

It was not until he was on The Joe Rogan Podcast that I appreciated his intelligence and ability to recall information. There were many times a point would come up in the debate and I would be hoping Chris Kresser (who to be fair, was not the ideal candidate to be on the other side) would bring up certain studies I was familiar with.

James Wilks, Chris Kresser and Joe Rogan

Almost every time these studies were brought up, James was familiar with the study and knew the numbers better than Chris did. This does not mean his interpretation was always right. But it is a sign that he is great at retaining knowledge and has spent a lot of time looking at the research.

Regardless of bias, nobody can doubt that he has put in work and is intelligent.

Plant-Based Diets and Injury Recovery

The catalyst for James going down this rabbit hole of nutrition research was an injury. To be more specific he had torn ligaments in his knee.

This led to him recognising a few key aspects of nutrition for injury prevention and recovery, such as focusing on an anti-inflammatory style of eating.

Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and legumes can help with this and I would encourage this for the majority of people.

Dietary patterns that are high in these types of foods are often linked with reduced inflammation in the research, regardless of what some people might say.

Omega 3 fatty acids are also linked with injury recovery and reduced inflammation as well. While the types of omega 3 in plant-based sources are different to what you would get from fish, this effect still appears to be present if sufficient amounts are consumed.

One aspect that I think is worth mentioning is the potential impact of collagen/gelatin supplementation on injury recovery.

Collagen Supplementation for Rehab

Collagen can only be found from animal sources and there is not yet a vegan equivalent. Agar is often used as a vegan substitute, but it does not contain the same nutritional profile or have the same effects.

Collagen supplementation looks promising for musculoskeletal injuries when used appropriately. This is also being trialled in athletes with similar injuries to what James sustained, with great success so far.

It looks like consuming other protein sources are not as effective for promoting collagen synthesis. There is currently only one study on the topic though. It also did not utilise any plant-based options.

Casein vs collagen for collagen synthesis
Image via @nutritiontactics on Instagram

Collagen and gelatin have quite unique amino acid profiles where they are high in glycine, lysine and arginine. This makes them relatively poor for promoting muscle protein synthesis in comparison to other protein sources.

Since collagen is excluded from a strict plant-based diet, this could lead to missing an opportunity to speed up recovery.

One idea I have had to get around this problem is to supplement the amino acids that collagen is high in (proline, glycine, lysine and arginine) in similar amounts to what is in collagen.

I have not heard of any plant-based athletes doing this, but it is something I would consider.

Protein for Energy

One of the weirdest points from the documentary is when they introduce the concept of athletes thinking of protein as an energy source. Dr James Loomis brought up this idea.

I do not believe many athletes think that protein is their body’s best energy source for training and performance.

While most athletes do not fully understand the systems involved, carbohydrates have always been emphasised for this purpose. Most athletes understand that carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy during exercise.

But busting this myth (even if it is irrelevant) helps to frame their argument against higher protein intakes.

Making matters worse, they go on to say that overconsumption of protein leads to glycogen depletion, fatigue and loss of stamina.

Gluconeogensis Diagram

This is misleading since it ignores that protein can comfortably be converted to glucose through gluconeogenesis.

While carbohydrates may be slightly easier to utilise as fuel and prevent glycogen depletion, protein also aids in this.

Consuming protein does not “lead to glycogen depletion.” Adding protein to a carbohydrate supplement aids glycogen replenishment more than carbohydrate alone does.

Protein Needs for Muscle Growth

I respect the knowledge of James Wilks. He knows the ins and outs of protein needs for athletes. He also has a solid team around him that can help put this into practice as well.

In the film, he quoted studies regarding how much protein athletes need.

One study that was discussed separately on the Joe Rogan podcast was this study by Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld.

This study indicates “to maximize anabolism one should consume protein at a target intake of 0.4 g/kg/meal across a minimum of four meals in order to reach a minimum of 1.6 g/kg/day. Using the upper daily intake of 2.2 g/kg/day reported in the literature spread out over the same four meals would necessitate a maximum of 0.55 g/kg/meal.”

Optimising Protein Intake for muscle growth

He rightly mentioned these numbers are likely higher than what most athletes need to be consuming throughout their careers depending on their needs. This is more a target for maximising muscle anabolism.

The number he quotes in the film is 1-2g/kg/day, which is a broad range based on the different needs of athletes. I mostly agree with this as a general statement as well.

You can meet these needs from a vegan or plant-based diet.

I do feel that he underplayed how well planned out your diet may need to be to reach the higher end of these targets though.

He pointed out that his diet was already comfortably meeting this target. This made it seem like you can hit this target without trying.

But a large survey of vegans highlighted that their average protein intake was 83g/day. Obviously, this will vary from person to person. To me, t is one of many signs that it takes effort to reach a higher protein target.

In addition to this, the higher your protein needs are in relation to your calorie needs, the more difficult this gets.

This is because calories are made up of macronutrients.

Protein = 4kcal/g

Carbs = 4kcal/g

Fat = 9kcal/g

Most plant-based foods either have more carbohydrates or fats than protein. On a restricted-energy budget, it can be difficult to meet protein needs without planning.

While the quality of the amino acid profile of the protein sources does not matter as much when there is a high protein intake, it appears to matter more for sub-optimal intakes.

Leucine is an amino acid crucial for maximising muscle protein synthesis. Most plant-based protein sources are relatively low in leucine compared to animal counterparts. This is part of the argument for people following plant-based diets requiring slightly more total protein per meal/day to maximise muscle protein synthesis.

Protein Efficiency

Beef vs peanut butter sandwich protein comparison

One of the claims in the film that stirred up some controversy is that James Wilks once again points out how he was surprised to learn that 1 cup of lentils or a peanut butter sandwich has as much protein as 3 eggs or 3oz (~85g) of steak.

While an 85g steak is very small in comparison to what the average person consumes, these numbers are not overtly inaccurate.

In the heat of the debate on The Joe Rogan podcast, James Wilks appeared to come out on top with this point.

Unfortunately, they got the numbers wrong. They doubled the amount of protein in bread (using the per serve numbers for per slice) while doing the maths, which warped the point.

The picture I have included above comparing 85g of lean beef to the peanut butter sandwich is not meant to directly compare the point that was being made.

I have specifically chosen lean beef, which is slightly higher in protein and significantly lower in calories than a higher fat alternative.

I have no qualms with using a lean cut of meat for this example since in the film they made an effort to paint ALL meat in a negative light, not just higher fat versions.

But it shows the point I am making about calories per gram of protein. If somebody was trying to get leaner while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible, they could find it difficult to stay in a calorie deficit while hitting their protein target.

It is still possible to do on a plant-based diet, it just requires planning. I am solely highlighting this since the film made it look easy to reach protein needs.

Getting Stage Lean as a Bodybuilder on a Plant-Based Diet

The Game Changers Bodybuilder

At one point, a bodybuilder is featured saying how he thought he would not be able to be competitive on stage as a plant-based bodybuilder but says it has not negatively affected him.

While you can set up your diet optimally as a plant-based bodybuilder, this example is just anecdotal evidence.

There are evidence-based recommendations for nutrition for contest preparation that we can utilise that would be far more valuable than anecdotes.

The protein recommendation during contest preparation is 2.3-3.1g/kg/day based on fat-free mass, (instead of total body weight – which is what the other recommendations thus far have been based on). Credit to James again for being aware of these recommendations and knowing them well while discussing them on the podcast.

But I wanted to highlight that meeting that high of a protein target is super hard while in a calorie deficit. People going through prep are typically in a calorie deficit since they are dropping body fat.

Without a lot of protein supplementation, it is incredibly difficult to reach these targets without exceeding the calorie targets.

Protein Efficiency Chart

Another aspect that frustrated me is how this bodybuilder mentioned how he was backstage eating carbs while all the other bodybuilders “haven’t touched a carb in weeks.”

This is ridiculous, especially if it were true. Throughout prep, most bodybuilders do not go low-carb. They go lower carb than they did in the off-season, but typically do not drop down to a minimal intake.

Bodybuilders SHOULD also carb up leading into a show. It increases their glycogen stores, which also increases intramuscular water content. This makes them look better on stage, which increases their odds of winning.

This is a common practice. Anybody not doing this is undertaking a sub-optimal nutritional strategy. This is something I’m going to talk about later. Going from a sub-optimal diet to a more optimised diet is going to be beneficial regardless of whether it is omnivorous or plant-based.

Patrik Baboumian

Patrik Baboumian

A section on vegan Strongman Competitor Patrik Baboumian highlights how well-crafted this documentary is from a theatrical perspective. There is a lot of footage of him performing feats of strength.

This is where the value of having people such as James Cameron and Louie Psihoyos involved in the film really comes into play. By making the documentary so engaging, it really increased how far the message was spread.

There are also a lot of thought-provoking one-liners that are used. Without context, they seem compelling.

One example of this from Patrik is “How can you get as strong as an Ox without eating meat? And I say ‘have you ever seen an ox eat meat?’”

Another one-liner used by somebody else later “look at a Gorilla. It will F you up in a few seconds. What does a Gorilla eat?”

While these sound clever, how are they relevant to humans and muscle mass? We have sooooo much research. Disregarding that based on a one-liner would be silly. 

Patrik claimed he gained 25kg after switching to a vegan diet and then went on to break the record on the yoke carry with 1230lbs for 10 metres in 2015. He previously held the record at 1213lbs from 2013.

The first thing I wanted to point out is that Patrik competed in a non-drug-tested sport. This is a sport where people are dedicating their lives to winning, which means there are athletes who are very likely to be taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Since it is not drug tested and it is fair game, it is not considered cheating to use steroids.

I cannot directly say that Patrik was taking steroids.

But if you put two and two together and understand that steroids make you stronger and more muscular, and he held a world record in a federation where people can freely use steroids, it could be fair to assume that he also was taking steroids.

One thing the film did not highlight is that during this time, Patrik was consuming 4 protein shakes per day as part of a diet that contained a total of 410g of protein. That is a lot of protein.

According to an article, his diet looked like this:

Meal 1: Shake – 80 grams of protein, 5 grams Creatine, 3 grams Beta-Alanine

Meal 2 (post-workout):  Smoothie – Black currants, frozen mixed fruit, 80 grams of protein, glutamine, beta-alanine, 5 grams of creatine, dried greens, turmeric, cinnamon, 5-10 grams BCAA’s, orange and mango juice, and water.

Meal 3: Vegan sausages, falafel, fries and grilled veggies

Meal 4: Protein shake – 50 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat

Meal 5: Veggies, tofu, potatoes

Meal 6: Peanuts – 60 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs, and 90 grams of fat AND a protein smoothie – 50 grams of protein

As you can see, he was supplementing heavily to meet his protein needs. This is a good idea since it makes it much easier to meet needs. But this aspect was not discussed by the film, since it does not support the case that was being built.

Also, isince that record was made, both Brian Shaw and Hafthr Bjornson have carried 1565lbs in 2017, which is 335lbs more.

That’s a massive increase. Both of these athletes consume massive amounts of meat and have also utilised The Vertical Diet, which features large amounts of red meat.

The Vertical Diet

If we are looking at anecdotal evidence, it would be hard to ignore that the majority of successful strongman competitors consume large amounts of meat. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

You could say that a well-executed plant-based diet could be just as good for performance. To argue that it is superior would be a stretch that is not supported by the evidence.

Thoughts on Supplementation

When reading another review on the Game Changers, I saw somebody write something along the lines of “I guess you can be as strong as an Ox without eating meat, but I bet that they also do not need 4 protein shakes a day either” which got my interest.

I am a “food first” kind of guy. But I am also all for supplementation when it is beneficial.

One great point I heard James Wilks mention is that it is illogical to slam vegan diets based on the fact they often require supplementation.

People often point to how B12 supplementation is necessary and how that is a clear sign that we should not follow a vegan diet.

But the point James made was that almost every athlete is using supplements regardless. Almost all top-level omnivorous athletes also use some form of protein supplementation.

To highlight that because vegan athletes are also using supplements as a “clear sign that they are worried their diet is inadequate” is silly. Athletes use supplements regardless.

Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz

Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz

Moving on to more anecdotal evidence. The documentary features a fight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz and insinuates that Nate wins because of his superior plant-based diet.

This is awesome because it highlights that you can perform well on a plant-based diet.

But again it is a bit of a misleading point that is just another example of confirmation bias.

Firstly, we cannot assume that Conor was following an optimal diet. In addition to this, it insinuated that Nate was following a strictly plant-based diet, which is inaccurate since he has mentioned he was having eggs and fish occasionally.

Conor went up 2 weight classes in a short time span for this fight.

That puts him at a massive disadvantage since you cannot gain muscle that quickly. Plus almost every fighter does a water cut in the lead-up to their fights to give them a further advantage.

Diaz was significantly heavier on fight day and in much better condition for the fight. Differences in fighting style need to be factored in.

These are all factors that are unrelated to the dietary pattern they followed.

In addition to this, Nate has also lost a lot of fights too. To imply that Nate beat Conor in large part due to his plant-based diet is silly, since that ignores all of Nate’s previous losses while following a similar diet.

In addition to this, they had a rematch that Conor McGregor won. This is not mentioned in the film since it does not fit the agenda.

Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz Fight

Documentaries are made to be compelling. They are designed to inspire change. Adding in aspects such as what I have just mentioned above would take away from that.

Beetroot Juice and Endothelial Function

Beetroot Juice in Glass

Endothelial function is discussed quite a bit and it looks like a compelling argument for a plant-based diet.

Firstly, you can get those benefits from consuming more plants in general. It is a good message to send.

But the thing I care about is how endothelial function and improved vasodilation actually translates to improved performance.

The documentary discusses how beetroot juice allows people to cycle for 22% longer on a time to exhaustion test. It also mentions how in one study, it allowed participants to bench press 19% more total weight.

Those numbers are insane. Personally, I care about performance above all else.

As somebody who works with a lot of high-level powerlifters, if I found something that could add 19% to somebody’s bench press, do you think I would not utilise it?

Hell no. I would get all of my clients on it since my goal is to improve their performance.

To quote Louise Burke, “my job is in optimising elite performance. If there is a diet that is going to make athletes faster and perform better, I am going to want to know about it and implement it.”

This applies to plant-based diets and also this beetroot juice example.

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Firstly, the study referenced did NOT increase the weight lifted by 19%, which was the quote from the documentary. What actually happened was the participants did 60% of their 1RM to failure over multiple sets and were able to get more reps.

60kg bench press

Across the 3 sets, we are talking sets of 10-20 reps, with more in the earlier sets and less towards the end. The study also only included 12 people, which is relatively normal for a nutrition study, but worth mentioning since there are a lot of variables involved.

Beetroot Juice Bench Press

I am of the opinion that beetroot juice DOES help with performance for higher rep sets and endurance activities.

Beetroot juice has been consistently shown to help endurance activities and improves exercise efficiency. When it comes to resistance training though, that study is really the only relevant one at this stage.

In addition to this, we have no evidence that beetroot juice improves hypertrophy or maximal strength.

It could be worth taking. But I do believe that these studies have been cherry-picked to put it in the best light possible.

Cancer and Animal Products

While I mostly wanted to keep this article focused on athletic performance, they did touch on health quite a bit, including cancer.

One of the strategies to make this point was flashing a whole bunch of studies that appear to link meat and dairy with cancer.

Almost all the studies shown are observational epidemiology studies.

While these types of studies can show correlations, it is difficult to draw strong conclusions from them since there are so many variables that are uncontrolled.

Types of epidemiological studies

While I think they are worthwhile, it is worth being aware of the concept of “healthy user bias.”

People who follow vegan or vegetarian diets are likely to be implementing more health-seeking behaviours in comparison to those who consume a lot of red meat or processed meats.

Somebody who is vegan or vegetarian is more likely to exercise more, limit added sugars, have a higher fibre intake, drink less alcohol, be less likely to smoke and a whole bunch of other variables.

One massive variable that is important to be aware of is that on average, vegans consume ~600 fewer calories per day. This alone has a massive impact on reducing the risk of cancer and chronic diseases.

There are some studies that make an attempt to control these variables a bit more. For example, there is a study that included a sample size of 11,000 participants made up of “health-seeking” vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

After 17 years, there was no difference in the mortality rate. This is an indication that health-seeking behaviours are far more important than the elimination of meat consumption.

When it comes to dairy, as Chris Kresser mentioned on the podcast, the largest meta-analysis on the topic highlighted that 84% of the studies showed no association with cancer or a decreased risk of cancer with dairy consumption.

To break that data down more, 13% showed a decreased risk of cancer, 71% showed no association with cancer and 16% showed an increased risk of cancer.

Dairy and Cancer Meta-Analyses

In my opinion, you need to be quite biased to twist that data into making it look like dairy and cancer are strongly linked.

As an example of how this bias could be displayed, James pointed out that you can then twist that data to say that “87% of studies showed that dairy either increased the risk of cancer or did not decrease the risk.”

Either way, both statements are factually correct.

It is a fair statement to say that 84% of studies showed no association or a decreased risk. And a fair statement to say that there is a wealth of data highlighting that dairy consumption, in general, is not really associated with cancer risk.

When you dig into the details though, although dairy is not linked with cancer in general, it does appear to have a bit more of a link with increased risk of prostate cancer.

This was actually the claim that was made in the film. While it seems like they implied that dairy is linked with cancer in general, they only actually mentioned prostate cancer when they were talking about dairy.

When it comes to general health beyond just cancer, moderate consumption of dairy is linked with a 25% reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Higher intakes are still not associated with increased risk of mortality.

If you consume a lot of calories through dairy and that increases your total calorie intake to an excessive level, that is going to have negative health implications. But a moderate amount of dairy within the context of a good quality diet is not causing harm from a health perspective.

From my perspective, if people did focus more on plant-based diets, their risks of poor health-related outcomes would improve. But I think that would more come down to improving diet overall since the majority of people do not have great diets to begin with.

There is no reason why people cannot include these health-promoting behaviours without necessarily completely excluding lean cuts of meat and moderate amounts of dairy.

Plant-Based vs Omnivorous Diets for Performance

The question on a lot of athletes’ minds after watching this documentary is “will switching to a plant-based diet help improve my performance?”

The terminology of “plant-based” is not really defined in the film. They reference anything from vegan to The Mediterranean Diet (including a moderate amount of animal products) research based on whatever suited their points best.

My understanding based on how it was discussed is that “plant-based” was being discussed as if it were similar to a vegan diet (i.e. no animal products).

Veganism is defined as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Veganism involves more than just diet. “Plant-based” typically means just the dietary aspect. For the sake of this discussion, that is how I am referring to “plant-based”.

So, will switching to a plant-based diet improve performance?


If you switch from an optimised omnivorous diet to an optimised plant-based diet, it will likely not have any noticeable impact on your performance.

It is hard to back that statement up with research since it is like attempting to summarise all of the concepts of nutrition for performance. But there are reviews showing no difference in performance between vegetarians and omnivores.

These reviews highlight that you can compete on an even playing field without a disadvantage as a plant-based athlete, but it also is not superior.

Anecdotally, there are quite a few cases where people switch to a plant-based diet and their performance improves. There are also cases where the opposite happens. This is more down to the overall change in the diet and certain factors than whether it was plant-based or not.

And using anecdotal evidence has a lot of flaws in general.

Usain Bolt

For example, Usain Bolt claims he was eating over 100 chicken nuggets per day at the Beijing Olympics. In his prime, he was the fastest man alive.

Does that mean it is a good idea to follow that dietary practice? Definitely not.

If an athlete is carrying more body fat than they should for their sport and reduces their calorie intake, their body fat will decrease, and their performance will improve.

Switching from a poor diet to an inadvertently lower-calorie plant-based diet is going to lead to improved performance. But so, would have decreased calorie intake alone.

One reason why The Game Changers is successful is that people are not interested in nuanced concepts, or constantly hearing “it depends” and “potentially.” They want it to be black and white.

This is exactly how The Game Changers makes things look. It is portrayed as though plant-based = good and animal products = bad.

It is like the below image from Jacob Schepsis in his review of the documentary:

Option A vs Option B

It is laid out like option A vs option B. In reality, there are endless different ways you can structure your diet.

A lot of athletes do not have great diets to start off with. They also often do not have great nutrition knowledge.

Vegetables are not the be-all and end-all for athletic performance. But they can help. This documentary did a great job of highlighting that.

Most athletes have a lot of areas in their diet that they can improve upon. The benefits can be obtained on an omnivorous or plant-based diet.

Aiming for elite performance is not a reason to not switch to a plant-based diet. If it is well-constructed, it will not harm your performance. But if you already had an optimised omnivorous diet, it would not help your performance either.

Nutrients of Importance for Strict Vegan/Plant-Based Diets

Plant Based Nutrition

While a plant-based diet can be equally as effective, there are some nutrients that need to be included more strategically.


It can be difficult at times to consume enough protein, while also not exceeding your calorie budget.

Consuming a diet that has inadequate total protein, or is noticeably lacking particular amino acids is likely going to be detrimental to performance.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal products. It is almost mandatory that people following exclusively plant-based diets will need to supplement B12. Fortified foods such as nutritional yeast can contribute too.

The symptoms of a B12 deficiency can often go unnoticed until irreversible implications have occurred, so it is a good idea to get a blood test regularly.

This is an important point that everybody should be aware of prior to transitioning to a plant-based diet.


Since dairy is such a convenient source of calcium, it becomes a bit more difficult to consume sufficient calcium on a plant-based diet.

Dark leafy greens, almonds and calcium set-tofu can be great additions to the diet to help meet this target. It is important to ensure you are consuming sufficient amounts.

A well-planned plant-based diet can ensure that you are not doing anything that encourages the loss of bone mineral density. If you do not reach your calcium needs through food, it could be worthwhile to consider calcium supplementation.


Iron is another nutrient that can be more difficult to meet the needs while on a plant-based diet.

Heme iron is found in animal iron sources and is more easily absorbable than non-heme iron in plant sources.

Therefore, it is important to focus on not only consuming sufficient iron through foods such as lentils and dark leafy green vegetables but also strategies to improve absorption.

Consuming vitamin C around the time of having some iron-based foods can help absorption.

Meanwhile tea/coffee can reduce absorption, so you would want to consume them away from when you are having iron-rich foods.

Planning your diet well and potentially supplementing when necessary can help prevent downsides related to iron deficiency.


Zinc is also easier to absorb from animal sources. To ensure that you are getting enough zinc, it is important to focus on consuming zinc-rich foods such as seeds, nuts and legumes.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency appears to be slightly more common in people who follow plant-based diets.

Although there are still some dietary sources available, the main strategy is to ensure you get enough sunlight, while also monitoring your levels through a blood test.

If your levels are consistently low, it would be worth considering supplementation as well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have a lot of potential benefits such as reducing inflammation in addition to being beneficial for heart and brain health.

Fish is typically the first thing people think of when it comes to omega-3’s but you can still get them from plant-based foods such as walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds.

Positive Takeaways From The Game Changers Documentary

Overall, the highlight of the documentary for me is that it showed that athletes can follow plant-based diets while excelling as athletes at the elite level.

This has been demonstrated for decades, but it was great that the documentary highlighted it and brought it to the masses in an entertaining way.

I am also a fan of how it focused on the importance of focusing on a nutrient-rich diet. Nutrition involves so much more than just calories and macros. Although you could argue that a lot of studies were cherry-picked, they di highlight a lot of aspects worth thinking about.

It also seems to have made people think about their diets more in general and how they can improve their diet. Due to how it was presented, quite a few people who previously did not care about their diet suddenly took an interest.

While I think the documentary is not a great representation of the nutrition evidence we have available, I think it is a great intro for a lot of people that can get them going down the rabbit hole of learning about nutrition.

Personally, I started my nutrition journey by learning about nutrition from random bro’s on the forums section of Was that the most evidence-based way to learn about nutrition? Of course not.

But that start got me interested and encouraged me to educate myself more.

That perspective allows me to see this in a way that at least I am sure The Game Changers has gotten a lot of people interested in nutrition. It is not an educational resource and it is not the best place to learn about nutrition. But it can be something that encourages people to dig deeper and improve their knowledge about nutrition, health and performance.

By Aidan Muir

Aidan is a Brisbane based dietitian who prides himself on staying up-to-date with evidence-based approaches to dietetic intervention. He has long been interested in all things nutrition, particularly the effects of different dietary approaches on body composition and sports performance. Due to this passion, he has built up an extensive knowledge base and experience in multiple areas of nutrition and is able to help clients with a variety of conditions. One of Aidan’s main strengths is his ability to adapt plans based on the client's desires. By having such a thorough understanding of optimal nutrition for different situations he is able to develop detailed meal plans and guidance for clients that can contribute to improving the clients overall quality of life and performance. He offers services both in-person and online.