If you are unaware, there is a documentary going around called Game Changers. It’s a film featuring some top notch professional athletes and their athletic prowess using a plant based – Vegan diets. Who cares right?
If you’re a vegan, you love this film because it affirms your belief that every meat eater is going to have a shorter, suboptimal life and won’t be able to compete on the world stage, much less in the bedroom (yes, that topic is covered).
If you eat meat, you become defensive because it attacks your beliefs, which are probably based on your own personal results, especially if you are also a top notch professional athlete. Why get defensive? Because the film attacks those beliefs using ‘science,’ which like any documentary, is going to use data that supports their position. For clarification, there is data on both sides of the equation as to which diet seems to be optimal, therefore creating the narrative that the opposing view is killing babies and you should probably go to jail for eating in that manner.
Throughout the nutrition world, there are many ‘debunking’ and ‘mega affirming’ videos and interviews happening all over the world wide web.
If you think the Trump Impeachment trials are divisive, go listen to a carnivore and a vegan argue nutrition. Which I did. In fact, Joe Rogan hosted one of them.
One of the biggest points of contention in these debates is whether vegans can get enough protein to sustain a top notch athlete. An illustration using a peanut butter sandwich was used to prove that there is just as much protein in this tasty plant-based sandwich compared to 4 ounces of 90% lean beef.
The argument trails off into the minutia of the amino acid profiles, usability, and digestibility. If you consumed 2 slices of Arnold Whole Grain Healthy Multi-Grain bread with 4 tablespoons of Laura Scudder’s Natural Smooth Peanut Butter, you would indeed consume 26 grams of protein.
Comparatively, if you were to consume 4 ounces of 90% lean ground beef, you would only get 22 grams of protein. Yes, the sandwich would have more protein than the beef.
What confuses me is that most vegan experts will argue that we get too much protein and will recommend only 0.8-0.9 grams/kg of body weight. If protein excess is bad for us, then why try and match it? Maybe there’s varying views within the vegan community. For example, the equation above for my personal weight would equate to about only needing 65 grams of protein/day. But what I can tell you is that feel and function best when I’m at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, essentially tripling that requirement.
Regardless…what NOBODY is talking about is the amount of carb content someone has to consume to equate the protein totals between an animal based diet vs a vegan diet. That peanut butter sandwich may contain more protein than the burger but tallies 54 grams of carbs, just 1 carb LESS than a Grande Mocha Frappuccino®.
There’s also mention that 1 cup of lentils equates to 18 grams of protein. No one disputes that BUT what about the 40 grams of carbs that accompanies that cup of lentils?
These plant based foods may help you consume the amount of protein needed for athletic performance BUT I would argue that we don’t have a protein deficiency problem in the US, we have a carbohydrate toxicity issue creating the fattest nation in the history of our species.
Too much protein isn’t wrecking people’s kidneys, too much insulin is and the fastest way to create an insulin roller coaster is by eating a diet that is dominated by carb intake, regardless if meat is present or not.
The carb content may not be that much of a concern to these top athletes who’s job is to literally exercise 8-10 hours per day. They are using every possible morsel of food intake to sustain their activity levels and recovery.
For the rest of us, we don’t have that much metabolic flexibility to consume that many carbs without repercussions of insulin resistance, which is a major factor at the base of diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, fatigue, thyroid issues, cardiac, and cognitive struggles.
It doesn’t matter if you want to be plant based or meat based, for me, one of the biggest factors of what you eat is going to be how it affects your blood sugar and insulin balance. And the only want to know is to test. Or when people tell you to do your research, don’t just read studies, make yourself an experiment. You are the research.
For most, you can get a finger stick glucose monitor and test after your food consumption. Test at 20 minutes after eating and then again at 2 hours and record blood sugars. For some, those lentils may work great. For others, your blood sugars may spike and remain elevated like you’ve eating a dozen donuts.
One step further and something I will be experimenting with over the next 90 days is a Continuous Glucose Monitor. What I want to track isn’t just what I eat and timing of eating but how does my exercise, my meetings with clients, and even my frustrations with my kids affect my blood sugars. You can follow my journey over on Instagram or Facebook.