Will a plant based diet improve athletic performance?

The REAL Game Changer in the NETFLIX documentary “The Game Changer”- A message to Active Individuals (PART 1)

This is a two-part post re my insights on this Netflix documentary. My goal is to:


  1. bring clarity on the performance enhancement effect of switching to plant proteins

  2. contextualize its applicability in the Filipino athletic community

What I appreciate the most from this movie is that it inherently reminds people, particularly athletes, of the importance of increasing consumption of whole foods (i.e. vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans) though the movie called it “plant-based diet”.

It is a genuinely good message, but was presented through fear-based marketing strategy— triggering negative emotions by describing the harmful metabolic effects of meat proteins and how substituting them with plant proteins can improve performance, reduce inflammation, promote healing and recovery, etc.



But for sure, the most prominent message that will stick to the minds of majority of athletes is: SWITCHING TO A PLANT-BASED DIET WILL IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE. And who wouldn’t want that?


For a couple of days now, people are asking me on my take on this, whether:

  1. is it really true, the “ergogenic” or performance enhancing effects of plant proteins and

  2. whether I would advise switching to a plant-based diet?


For number 1, the truth that I see beyond what was discussed in this documentary is that the REAL GAME CHANGER for the athletes interviewed is not the absolute replacement of animal proteins with plant proteins but the inherent HIGHER CARBOHYDRATE AVAILABILITY that plant-based diets (or whole foods consumption) provided the athletes. Carbohydrate availability refers to the carbohydrates that are accessible to the working muscles to use for producing high power outputs as demanded by exercise; which is almost always the case for elite level athletes.

Higher carbohydrate availability also helps ensure that intense exercises can be maintained for longer periods of time (remember James Wilks attesting to his improvement in battle ropes workout from 8-minutes to a whopping 1hr+?). Whereas protein, whether from animal or plant source, plays a very minor role in energy production during shorter duration exercises.


Also, take note of the sports of the athletes who gave anecdotal evidences, namely: mixed martial arts, weightlifting, powerlifting, body building, football, ultra-marathon, athletics, and track cycling. All of these sports employ carbohydrate-dependent energy systems in training and/or competition. Even in the sport of body building, athletes must have periodic high carbohydrate availability in order to perform at their best during trainings which can help achieve desired training adaptations.



Whole foods, that includes plant proteins like beans, legumes, quinoa, etc., can readily contribute to the needed QUALITY carbohydrates in an athlete’s diet without even thinking about it. It comes naturally and effortless that is why it seems MAGICAL.


So the recurring message that “MEAT-FREE DIET GIVES ENERGY” is a tactical statement that:

For number 1, the truth that I see beyond what was discussed in this documentary is that the REAL GAME CHANGER for the athletes interviewed is not the absolute replacement of animal proteins with plant proteins but the inherent HIGHER CARBOHYDRATE AVAILABILITY that plant-based diets (or whole foods consumption) provided the athletes. Carbohydrate availability refers to the carbohydrates that are accessible to the working muscles to use for producing high power outputs as demanded by exercise; which is almost always the case for elite level athletes.

ease out the idea that high carbohydrate availability can be readily achieved by including whole carbohydrate food sources such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, etc., even without totally eliminating animal proteins from the diet.

When it comes to maximizing athletic performance, always remember, CARBOHYDRATE IS STILL KING.

On my next post, I will be sharing my insights on question number 2, whether I would advise FILIPINO athletes to switch to a plant-based diet.


If you are a Netflix subscriber here is a link to the video. Please watch to fully understand the context of what I’m driving at. https://www.netflix.com/title/81157840?s=i&trkid=13747225


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