Game Changing? Or just misleading?

Athletes all around the world are asking themselves if they should become vegan following the release of the emotive Game Changers Netflix movie. Advanced Sports Dietitian and President of Sports Dietitians Australia Simone Austin emphasises the word ‘movie’ and warns viewers not to be lured into its reference as a documentary. “Sports dietitians and sports scientists worldwide can, and have indeed, queried the pseudoscience and anecdotal nature of much of the ‘evidence’ presented which can be very misleading for the viewer who is not familiar with the full body of scientific evidence that exists regarding sports nutrition”.

Regardless of what diet you follow Australians are not eating the recommended 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day, as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines. In fact in 2014, research showed that 92% of Australian adults did not meet the recommended servings of vegetables per day, so any increase in intake is a plus.

Accredited Sports Dietitians will always support and respect freedom of dietary choice and will work with athletes to tailor individual dietary recommendations to optimise health and performance of their athletes.

Advanced Sports Dietitian, Dr Alan McCubbin believes that rather than focussing on the differences between dietary trends and patterns, focusing attention on the ‘common ground’ can shift attention towards positive healthy eating habits that can improve an individual’s relationship with food, reduce their stress and when combined with specifically planned strategies to complement training, can help in optimising exercise performance.

So, will eating vegan really impact positively on health and is it more superior to athletic performance?

Current research suggests no advantages or disadvantages in terms of performance or exercise capacity for vegans over vegetarian or omnivore (i.e. meat) eating athletes, provided their food choices are planned (i.e. including nutrient rich vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and lean meat, fish, chicken and dairy products according to the individual’s choice).

Poorly constructed vegan diets may predispose an individual to protein, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, calcium and iodine deficiencies. For example, white rice with soy sauce is technically vegan but clearly it does not contain adequate nutrients.

If you are considering a vegan or plant-based diet, careful consideration and tailored advice from an Accredited Sport Dietitian with experience in this area is advised, to ensure nutritional adequacy, whilst achieving sports-specific nutrient goals. This will help to deliver optimal recovery, physique changes and to meet overall energy adequacy with respect to different sporting modalities, age, gender and cultural/lifestyle preferences.

Sports Dietitians Australia is the peak body for evidence-based sports nutrition in Australia and the organisation and its members are recognised and admired across the sports science industry both in Australia and internationally. It is always recommended to seek advice from an Accredited Sports Dietitian to cut through the pseudoscience.




Contact information:

Simone Austin, President, Sports Dietitians Australia & Advanced Sports Dietitian, 0409 435 904
Marie Walters, Executive Officer, Sports Dietitians Australia,