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The Game Changers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Holly Ardern
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
On April 4, the 88th Medical Group hosted a unique training opportunity with a pre-release screening of The Game Changers, an evidence based documentary directed by Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos about the effects of a plant-based diet on performance nutrition and health.

The film tells the story of James Wilks, elite Special Forces combatives trainer and winner of season nine of The Ultimate Fighter on his quest to recover from an injury. The Game Changers documents his nutrition research journey, which uncovered a large body of evidence suggesting that plant-based diets are safe for any age group, may speed recovery time, enhance physical performance and support strength and endurance athletes. Traveling across the world to meet with elite athletes, special ops soldiers, visionary scientists, and cultural icons, Wilks discovered that these individuals were achieving peak performance, while following a plant based diet.

“As a combatives instructor for the U.S. military, I see the human body as a powerful machine with the potential for excellence in many areas including strength, speed, stamina and recovery,” said Wilks. “Until I got badly injured in 2011, I never thought this potential had much to do with food, which I saw as mainly calories and protein.”

In the film, Wilks meets with athletes like Patrik Baboumian, world-record holding strongman, Morgan Mitchell, Olympic sprinter, Scott Jurek, ultra-marathoner, Bryant Jennings, heavyweight boxing champion, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wilks follows these top performers and learns about how they are optimizing their performance by capitalizing on the benefits of a plant-based diet, expelling the myth that you need animal protein to be strong and fit.

Following the screening, attendees had the opportunity for a Q&A with Wilks, David Goldman, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and scientific advisor for the film, and Capt (Dr.) Regan Stiegmann, Performance Medicine Flight surgeon from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Lt. Col. Amanda Denton, 88 MDG Nutritional Medicine Flight commander, prompted the panel with the question, “Are you advocating an all-or-nothing approach?”

All three panelists met this question with a no. Wilks explained, “To expect someone to suddenly change their entire diet would be pretty unreasonable.” He and the other panelists explained to the audience that simply incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can be very beneficial.

He went on to explain that the intent of the film was to educate people with facts and let them come to their own conclusions.

“This film provides continuing education credits for health care providers, and is an opportunity to enhance exposure to the science supporting plant-based diets,” explained Denton. Over 170 people attended and many expressed excitement about adding more plant-based foods to their own diets, as well as being able to better support their patients efforts to improve lifestyle habits, according to Denton.