As a nutritionist who has long followed a healthy lifestyle approach to eating, I’ve always believed in a balanced diet with organic chicken, grass-fed meat, wild fresh fish, low glycemic carbohydrates and lots of vegetables and fruits. However, after watching the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, I was shocked and intrigued by the research and studies on a plant-based diet. And with some time on our hands and looking for ideas for what to watch, The Game Changers is a must-see. Here, my thoughts on The Game Changers and how to incorporate plant based eating into your nutritional approach.
The Movie Basics
First of all, this plant-based documentary is not only entertaining—it completely draws you in—but also focuses on how plants can increase blood flow, muscle performance and speed up recovery by lowering inflammation. The film chronicles the journey of James Wilks, an elite Special Forces trainer and a UFC fighter, who, after an injury, is encouraged by the theory that strong and resilient ancient gladiators ate virtually no meat, and searches for the ultimate diet for “human performance.”
The Game Changers is produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan among others who know a thing or two about making movies and athletic endurance. Above all, Wilks traveled the globe, worked with elite athletes, industry leaders in nutrition, athletics and anthropology and tested nutritional theories to come to his conclusion. And he is not alone.
Plant Based Diets
“There is strong evidence that a plant-based diet is the optimal diet for living a long and healthy life,” according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health nutrition expert Walter Willett. Willet, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition, who was interviewed on the NPR show 1A last year, did point out that one does not have to completely rule out meat to see the advantages of a plant-based diet, some of which include a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality.
Similarly the nutritional benefits from The Game Changers can also be seen with food plans that include limited portions of poultry, meat, fish and dairy, although it’s key that the majority of the diet be comprised of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains; refined sugars and starches should be cut out completely.
Here, my top three starter tips for following a plant-based (or mostly) diet:
1. Eat carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic scale, complex and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibers, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa and legumes.
2. Most of your diet should come from vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, healthy fats and fruit.
3. If you do eat animal products, limit them to no more than one meal a day, and watch portion sizes. Stick with organic chicken breast, grass-fed meat and wild fresh fish. Replace meats with nuts, seeds, pea protein and dairy replacements.
Shellee Dyne is a certified nutritionist and wellness expert. Learn more at dyneamicnutrition.com.
A favorite recipe Shellee shares…
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Part of the pleasure of incorporating new theories into your eating plan is trying new recipes like this one I like from Elissa Goodman, a certified holistic nutritionist and lifestyle cleanse expert (elissagoodman.com).
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
2 small eggplants, sliced across (12 slices total)
1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid drained from a can of chickpeas) or 2 eggs whisked (for a vegetarian version)
1 tablespoon water
1 cup panko or gluten-free bread crumbs1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch salt and pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (your choice, I use Rao’s), warmed on stove
handful basil leaves
For Ricotta Filling (Use Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese to save time)
6 ounces soft tofu
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/2 tablespoon pepper
Blend all ingredients together, mix well.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice eggplant lengthwise and lay flat on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for approximately 20 to 30 minutes until liquid is drawn out of the eggplant.
3. As these sit, make the ricotta filling, set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs, pinch of salt and pepper, dried Italian seasoning, set aside.
5. In a second mixing bowl, whisk aquafaba (or eggs for the vegetarian option) and set aside.
6. When there is water drawn to the surface of the eggplant slices, pat each one dry with a paper towel to absorb moisture.
7. Heat ½ cup high-heat refined coconut or olive oil in a large frying pan on medium high.
8. Piece by piece, dip each eggplant into the aquafaba liquid, then dredge through the breadcrumb mixture.
9. Lay slices in the hot oil for approximately two minutes or until browned on each side. Remove from frying pan and set aside on a baking sheet until ready to assemble.
10. When all eggplant is done, start to build your individual eggplant Parmesan servings: Lay one round of eggplant, spread with tofu “ricotta” cheese blend, spread even with sauce, sprinkle with basil, and then top with another eggplant section. Repeat on two more eggplant pieces.
11. Top with sauce and sprinkle of ricotta, then garnish with a basil leaf.
12. Repeat this for each of the four individual servings. Bake for additional 15 minutes until the layers are warmed throughout