Stew Smith and Jeff Nichols discuss the show Game Changers about going Vegan / Vegetarian. http://www.stewsmithfitness.com and http://www.performancefirstus.com (Jeff)
We focus also on the question from a reader about being a Vegan and attending special ops selection programs.
Not eating animal products (meat / dairy / etc) is A way to eat and like many optional diets / food plans available, not necessarily THE way to eat for everyone. Whether you are vegetarian and vegan, the elimination of meat and/or dairy products and eggs requires some research in order to do it right. If you are not familiar with the Netflix documentary / movie called Game Changers, check it out and decide for yourself, but if you are thinking about actually going vegan, get some professional help from registered dietitians or nutritionists because malnutrition is not something you want.
Our comments are based solely on personal experience and opinion. But most of the movie is also based on personal experience and opinions of world class athletes who are vegan.
1 – IMPORTANT - The elimination of ANY macronutrient (protein (plant or animal), fat (plant or animal), and carbs) no matter what diet you are considering should be taken up with someone who is qualified in creating a nutritious program out of calorie restriction (less than 1500 cals a day), no carb, no fat, Intermittent Fasting, Keto, Paleo, or the Cabbage or Grapefruit Diet. Whatever diet it is – if at the end of the day you are eliminating something as big as a macronutrient or reducing calories significantly, there is a chance that you will be missing out some vitamin, mineral, amino acids, electrolyte, or other nutritious factor that is neglected by the change in the diet.
2 – Sometimes Change is Good, Sometimes Not – My advice is to give it a try and see if it works for you. If you are feeling sluggish, reduced energy, poor performance with training, or other noticeable changes in your overall health and wellness, you are likely doing it wrong or it is not right for you.
3 – It Depends – On Your Goals - If you are trying to lose weight, the reduction in calories by eliminating a food group will cause a weight loss. If you are trying to grow muscle, get stronger, faster, and stay active for long periods of time (selection programs), you need to make sure that for whatever calories you are eliminating you are making up with other food groups to get more calories and any missing nutrients. In fact, in order not to lose weight, you may have to eat up to 5,000-7,500 nutritious calories a day to have the energy for long days / nights of spec ops training. This may require multiple meals of extra protein, carbs, and fats.
4 – WHY? Performance, Ethical, Health Reasons – If you do not want to eat animals the moral decision to do that is in my opinion the strongest reason WHY to be a vegetarian or vegan. The heart disease patient also has logical reasoning behind the change in eating habits. The athletes in the game Changers Movie are going to be world class athletes no matter what they eat, and if they feel better with a vegan diet – it is great that it works for them. Is the vegan diet helping them with that missing 5% of performance a high caliber athlete is looking for in order stand on a podium, play pro sports and win? Anecdotally – sure. Is the vegan diet scientifically responsible for the increase in performance?
Currently, the military is all over the place with diet. From fast food on bases, chow hall cuisine, to researching the benefits of the Keto Diet, the military is simply a cross section of American society with it’s own share of dieting varieties, eating disorders, and obesity. Once again, find something that works for you. Get some advice from qualified people as to HOW to do it correctly so you do not miss out on any vi