“A healthy diet is a healthy lifestyle. What you eat goes a long way towards being healthier or otherwise. Take steps now towards an ideal lifestyle and live longer, live healthier.
Anna Maria Co-Director of The Hippocrates Health Institute will address the multitude of issues that face families in this high-speed society by using compassion, proper enzyme-rich food, movement and a wide array of noninvasive and supportive therapies.
Featuring NY Firefighter, Nick Berman – As seen in “The Game Changers”
Welcome to a BONUS “Transformation Tuesday” edition of the Plant-Strong Podcast! Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to share this inspirational series dedicated to showcasing some of my new friends and their remarkable, plant-strong stories.
It’s our hope that these bonus clips inspire and motivate you because, as you’ll hear, cutting out all the meat and dairy and adopting a whole food plant-based diet may not be easy at first, is massively life-changing from the inside out. Believe me when I say these people are just like you.
You may recognize Nick Berman from one of the climactic scenes in The Game Changers. He, along with other members of the FDNY, had just completed the Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Challenge and Nick was blown away by how far his cholesterol had tumbled. These results ARE typical.
Today, you won’t believe how far he’s come! I hope you enjoy this episode—and the surprise cameo by the one-and-only Jon Stewart!
The Turners decided to study the two eating styles side by side over a 12-week fitness training regime from January to March this year. They were inspired by the growing popularity (and sometimes controversy) of vegan diets for athletes, following documentaries like “The Game Changers,” according to Ross.
“We wanted to take bias and opinion out of it and take down to the genetic level. We can get science involved because we’re twins and genetically identical, so we can compare ourselves in extreme environments,” Ross told Insider.
The pair monitored how they felt during the course of the experiment and were followed by researchers from King’s College, who tracked basic health metrics like weight, cholesterol, and muscle mass.
Both twins did endurance training at the gym five to six times a week, using a program designed by Ross, a personal trainer. They also ate an almost identical number of calories in meals prepared by the Mindful Chef delivery service.
By the end, they noticed some big differences in terms of muscle gains, fat loss, and digestive health.
Hugo had higher energy and lost fat on a vegan diet
Before giving up animal products for the experiment, Hugo weighed in about 185 pounds and 13% body fat. After about a month on the vegan diet, he said he had dropped nearly nine pounds. By the end of the experiment, he measured in at 181 pounds. Nearly all the weight lost was fat mass, with his overall body-fat composition dipping by a full percentage point, to 12%. His cholesterol levels also dropped.
Even more striking were his energy levels. Hugo said he felt significantly more alert during his lunchtime gym sessions, compared with his typical routine.
“On a vegan diet my mental focus was much better, I didn’t have the mid-afternoon energy dips, and felt a bit more charged,” he told Insider.
He said one explanation could be how the vegan diet changing his snacking habits. Since biscuits and chips aren’t vegan, he’d switched to mainly fruit and nuts.
Hugo noticed one exception to his higher energy levels — his libido, which he said dropped off sharply.
“I just lost it — I really don’t know what happened,” he said, adding that his experience may not be true for everyone.
The twins did not conduct blood tests during the experiment, but said they would do so if they tried something similar in the future. They could measure testosterone, for example, to see if it explains some of the changes.
Ross gained more mass overall
Ross has always been the slightly bigger of the brothers, and this was exacerbated by the experiment. From starting around 13% body fat, he put on 10 pounds of muscle, in addition to just over four pounds of fat. That brought his overall body fat percentage up slightly, to 15%, and his final weigh-in to 189 pounds.
His cholesterol levels stayed consistent throughout the 12-week duration.
Ross said the meal plan for this experiment was slightly more varied than his typical diet, and extremely balanced in terms of macronutrients, with array of chicken, fish, red meat, veggies, dairy, and grains.
Before this, a typical day of eating for the twins would include toast or porridge for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and some version of chicken, veggies, or pasta for dinner.
The vegan diet also caused big changes in the gut microbiome
For Hugo, the dietary change was even more significant, since his usual animal-based protein was swapped out for things like tofu, tempeh (fermented soybeans), and jackfruit.
“Eating a vegan diet, you almost have to overcompensate with variety, so I was eating foods I wasn’t really used to,” Hugo said.
As a result, his gut microbiome — the populations of beneficial bacteria that live in the human digestive system — also changed in some interesting ways, based on fecal samples analyzed by Atlas Biomed before and after the experiment.
Although Ross’ microbiome changed slightly, it remained much more consistent than his brother’s.
It’s not clear why those changes occurred, although the Turners hypothesized that the abrupt change to a vegan diet, and the relatively short duration of the experiment, might have been factors.
The Turners said they plan to incorporate more vegan foods — especially snacks — into their regular diet
One caveat of the experiment, the Turners said, was that 12 weeks wasn’t a long time for a typical dietary study. If they could do it over, the brothers said they’re prefer to trial the diets for six months to a year for better data.
But the brothers said they’ve learned a lot and plan to incorporate more plant-based eating in their lifestyle. The brothers are known for their endurance expeditions and want to test how vegan eating might benefits them on their treks.
“You lose about half a kilo of weight a day on an endurance trip, more than that if you’re carrying extra weight, so we like to be lean and mean nothing in between on the trip,” Hugo said.
He added that being forced to find vegan alternatives also greatly expanded his world of food options.
“One thing to come out of this is we don’t eat nearly enough variety of foods. Often, we kind of just disguise the same foods in different forms,” Hugo said. “But variety is the spice of life.”
Ross said that there tends to be a reluctance for meat eaters to try vegan foods, and he hopes this experiment will encourage dedicated omnivores to branch out, since many plant-based substitutes like vegan burgers are similar in taste and texture to the classics.
If you’re curious about trying veganism, he added, you don’t to go “cold tofu” and jump in all at once. Based on his experience, Hugo recommends starting with your snacking habits, and swapping out between-meal treats with vegan options.
The twins concluded that their optimal diet is a mix of plant- and animal-based foods.
“Having a vegan diet has benefits and so does eating meat. I don’t think either outshone the other here,” he said. “We’ll be doing a mix of both, having non-meat days and adding more vegan foods into our diet, eating better-quality meat and less of it. We’ve taken away the best of both worlds.”
A vegan personal trainer has revealed that he can’t keep up with the demand for meal and training plans since the launch of The Game Changers.
The sports documentary, which is available to watch on Netflix, is directed by Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos and executive produced by Oscar-winner James Cameron. James Wilks produced and starred in the film.
Now Paul Kerton – aka Hench Herbivore – has told Plant Based News that the number of people wanting to get fit on a plant-based regime is skyrocketing.
“I have been DELUGED with nutrition and workout plan requests since The Game Changers came out,” he said. “It is having a MASSIVE impact.”
Impact of the film
Multiple plant-based businesses have seen interest increase since the film was released on Netflix and iTunes last month.
allplants, which delivers plant-based freshly cooked and frozen meals directly to people’s doorsteps, has has seen a 66 percent increase in sales. In addition, the company has received multiple enquiries from athletes and sports clubs with an interest in plant-based eating.
Jonathan ‘JP’ Petrides, CEO and founder of allplants, told PBN: “The increase in plant-curious new customers we’ve seen flock to allplants since the film launched on Netflix is encouraging, and most excitingly they’ve stayed with us. We welcome everyone to the table, whether they want to go all the way or give life on plants a try twice a week.”
A revolutionary new documentary about meat, protein, and strength.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where do you get your protein?
When most people think of a plant-based meal, “protein” isn’t the first nutrient that comes to mind. In fact it’s probably the last. And this isn’t by accident.
A Unique Selling Point, or Unique Selling Proposition (USP), is a marketing strategy used by companies to convince consumers to buy their product or service by focusing on a single feature they think differentiates them from the competition. The next step is to repeat this “unique” selling point so often that it becomes virtually synonymous with their product/service.
Nowhere has the USP strategy been more effectively employed than by the animal foods industry, who recognized well over a century ago that their products (meat, eggs and dairy) contain more of certain nutrients, like protein, iron, and calcium, and less of others, like carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Since then, these massive food conglomerates have spent literally billions of dollars successfully selling the public on the idea that their products are the best and only reliable source of protein, iron, and calcium, reminding us over and over again that the very building blocks of our bodies — muscles, blood, and bones — are made from them.
At the same time, the animal food conglomerates have also effectively convinced the majority of the population that plant-based foods are low in, or devoid of, these “building block” nutrients, with plants merely playing a supporting role: fiber to help keep us “regular”, with a few vitamins and minerals thrown in for good measure.
Taking all of this into account, it makes perfect sense that animal foods are the centerpiece of most meals, with plant foods reduced to side dishes and garnishes. This is USP marketing strategy at its very best, and plant foods like fruits and vegetables — which receive only a tiny fraction of the government subsidies and marketing/lobbying dollars that the animal foods industry receives — have had no real way to compete.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of researchers, public health organizations, and consumer advocates across the globe, the truth about nutrition is finally starting to reach the public. Including the truth about protein.
The biggest secret that the meat, dairy and egg industries have done their best to keep hidden from the public is one simple concept: animals are just the middlemen, and an ineffective and inefficient one at that. As Dr. James Loomis points out in The Game Changers, “All that protein that you get when you eat a steak or a hamburger, where did it come from? It came from the plants that the cow ate.”
In fact, all protein originates from plants, which also contain all nine essential amino acids we have to get from food. If this wasn’t the case, how would the largest and strongest animals on the planet, including elephants, rhinos, horses, and gorillas — all of which are herbivores — build and maintain such huge amounts of muscle?
Of course humans have different digestive tracts than elephants, but the fact that there is enough protein in the plant kingdom to sustain these massive animals comes as a surprise for most people. As does the fact that, according to the largest study comparing the nutrient intake of people who eat animal products with people who eat only plants, the average plant-eater not only gets enough protein, but 70% more than they need. Even meat-eaters get roughly half of their protein from plants (1).
And yet, if you ask the average person “Where does protein come from?”, their automatic response will almost always be “meat” or some other animal food, even though one big peanut butter sandwich has about as much protein as three ounces of beef, three large eggs, or two large glasses of milk (2).
Despite the animal foods industry’s “unique selling point” (USP) strategy to make us believe that their products are the best and only reliable source of protein (as well as calcium, iron, and other nutrients that also originate in plants), a plant-based diet has its own USP, based not in strategy, but in science: the protein package.
How many other vegan men out there hear the ‘but how do you build muscles?’ question on a regular basis?
As a doctor, a man, and a person who likes to work out, I have been acutely aware for a long time of how many dietary myths and mistaken cultural beliefs persist about veganism, health, athleticism and masculinity.
The Game Changers
When I first heard about The Game Changers, a documentary covering all these topics with some big-name producers behind it (including James Cameron, Arnold Schwarznegger, Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton and Jackie Chan) I was excited but also nervous about whether it would do the justice the issues deserved.
It turns out my fears were unfounded: when I finally saw the film at the cinema last month, I was blown away by how good it is. The Game Changers is a fantastic achievement, and I believe it will actually live up to its name.
The film starts with James Wilks – elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner – recovering from an injury and researching the best ways to speed up recovery. To his surprise, he discovers that the Roman gladiators were vegetarian, which challenges his deeply held beliefs about masculinity, athletic ability and virility.
He then goes on to meet several inspirational world-class athletes, including Olympic cycling medallist Dotsie Bausch, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, UFC fighter Nate Diaz, and American footballer Derrick Morgan, who have all had astonishing achievements after adopting a plant-based diet.
The footage of their achievements is beautifully filmed and awe-inspiring, and their enthusiasm is so infectious that everyone I went to the cinema with felt motivated to take on a new physical challenge afterwards (although unlike Baboumian it’s doubtful we’ll be turning any cars over in the near future).
The plant-based advantage
Wilks explores the reasons behind the ‘plant-based advantage’ in some detail; this includes the fact that meat and other animal products produce inflammation in the body, whereas plant foods are anti-inflammatory and therefore lead to a quicker recovery time after workouts.
There is a powerful scene in the film where firefighters in New York City learn that the biggest risk to their life is the same as the general population – death from heart disease. They agree to try a seven-day vegan challenge, and the results are similar as what my patients achieve when they agree to try going plant-based – more energy, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, healthy weight loss, and improved blood sugar control.
My patients are always astonished – as was Wilks’ father who also adopts a plant-based diet for heart disease – that merely changing the way they eat can transform their health, and are delighted that they are put back in control of their health. It is estimated that if everyone went vegan, the worldwide economy would save $1.6 trillion by 2050 through health and social savings.
There is an important section on the attempts of the meat industry to try and create confusion about the health effects of their products, comparing their tactics to those of the tobacco industry, who paid athletes and doctors to advertize their products and tried to present their own dubious research demonstrating the ‘safety’ of smoking. Now, we have athletes selling us Big Macs, and undeclared lobbyists for the meat industry writing for prestigious medical journals.
For example, there was recently a flurry of media headlines about ‘vegans being at risk of brain damage’ due to a lack of choline. This stemmed from an opinion piece by a nutritionist in the British Medical Journal, who had failed to declare she worked for the Meat Advisory Panel, a meat industry lobby group.
The BMJ amended the article to declare this conflict of interest after I wrote to inform them of this, but unfortunately, this important amendment was not reported by the media outlets who had already spread the unfounded scare story. Doctors and dieticians who are not funded by the meat industry are clear that choline deficiency is not a concern for vegans.
Another example is the very small number of scientists who deny that cholesterol is related to heart disease. This has been debunked by the vast majority of experts, and there are suggestions to treat ‘cholesterol-deniers’ in the same way as ‘climate change deniers’ in order to prevent dangerous public confusion.
As long as there is money to be made from an industry, however, there will be people claiming that it is safe, and the media will always enthusiastically report on any story that suggests people can carry on with habits they enjoy.
This is where I believe the film will really be a Game Changer. By showcasing elite plant-based bodybuilders, UFC fighters, weightlifters and American footballers, winning in their respective fields, it robustly proves that not only are vegan diets not holding athletes back in these traditionally masculine sports, they are in fact excelling.
Exploring the issue of virility further, an amusing scene showed volunteers being hooked up to a penis sensor, which showed that plant-based meals actually improved the quality and frequency of their erections. Responding to these results, the urologist Dr Spitz states: ‘it’s going to wake up people who have penises, and it’s going to wake up people who like people who have penises’. (I love how inclusive this is!)
As a GP, I measure blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels in patients presenting with erectile dysfunction, as these are known contributing factors, and the evidence is clear that a dietary change towards fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes improves blood flow and therefore erections.
These foods are processed so not as healthy as eating some unprocessed tofu, but still much healthier than their meat versions. They are also healthier for the planet. Towards the end of the film there is a good summary of the environmental devastation that meat and other animal products are wreaking on the planet.
A few criticisms of the film I’ve heard include disappointment that high profile sports stars like Novak Djokovic or Venus Williams did not feature more heavily, that there wasn’t enough detail on how to go plant-based, that the differences between ‘junk food’ vegan food and healthy plant-based food was not described in more detail, and that the animal rights aspect of veganism did not feature more.
After the screening I attended at the cinema, they showed some cut footage, which addressed some of these points, and although I understand the need for editing to keep people’s attention it would be great if the producers could also release an extended cut version.
In the meantime, their website also has a lot of useful information on the ‘how’ part of going plant-based. The documentary Forks Over Knives presents the data about chronic disease and processed foods in more detail.
In terms of animal rights, there is a small nod to this towards the end of the film, and I would argue that this isn’t the film to explore this issue in more detail, and could lead people to switch off. Once people are ready, there are already several documentaries on this topic (Earthlings, Dominion, Land of Hope and Glory), that people may be more receptive to when they have already changed their behaviour for the health and fitness benefits.
‘An enormous punch’
Ultimately, however, this documentary packs an enormous punch in its 80-minute running time.
Academic research papers have limited ability to motivate people to change their lifestyles. Watching people performing incredible acts elicits much more visceral and emotional reactions that go a long way to counteracting negative stereotypes.
I’ve already had my first patient report back to me they have gone plant-based after watching it, and I am sure they are only the first of many. For our health and the planet, this film couldn’t have come at a better time.