James Wilks & Chris Kresser Debate “The Game Changers” Documentary on The Joe Rogan Experience

For preliminary reading, check out the Podcast Notes from Chris’ chat with Joe a few weeks back about The Game Changers documentary

Key Takeaways

  • “Industry studies are 4-8 times more likely to have a conclusion in their favor for their product” James Wilks
    • Two-thirds of research is industry-funded! This is a huge conflict of interest!
      • Also, there’s no obligation for industries to release the results of a study, even if a certain product is prooved harmful to people
  • It seems both James and Chris agree that if you’re going to eat animal meat, you should eat plants in conjunction:
    • “If you’re going to eat animal foods, you should eat a lot of plants with them” – James Wilks
    • “We have lots of studies showing that when you eat plants along with meat, you don’t see the effects that you might see if you’re just eating the crap standard American diet”  – Chris Kesser
  • “Just because you’re vegan or vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re healthy” James Wilks
    • If you’re eating buns, sugar, etc., you’re a vegan but you aren’t eating healthy foods
  • Both vegans and meat-eaters should take vitamin B12 supplements 
  • As long as you’re getting enough protein, the source (plants or meat) doesn’t really matter!

Intro

The Problem with Industry Studies

  • “Industry studies are 4-8 times more likely to have a conclusion in their favor for their product” James Wilks
    • Example: A study on the effects of smoking is more likely to have the result that smoking isn’t harmful if it’s funded by a cigarette manufacturing company
    • This is a scary thought since two-thirds of research is industry-funded!
      • Also, there’s no obligation for industries to release the results of a study, even if a certain product is prooved harmful to people
  • You can’t always trust studies:
    • At ~1:58:00, a meta-analysis is brought up that showed there was no reliable evidence indicating that sugar intake is associated with negative health effects 
      • This study received financial support from the Technical Committee on Dietary Carbohydrates of ILSI North America.
      • Who is a member of this committee? – Coca-Cola, Hershey Company, Reb Bull 
        • This is a huge conflict of interest!

Does Dairy Cause Cancer?

(James says yes)

  • According to a meta-analysis of 153 studies examining dairy consumption and cancer:
    • 71% showed no evidence
    • 13% showed a decreased risk
    • 16% showed an increased risk
      • Prostate cancer is the cancer with the highest connection to dairy consumption

(Chris says no)

  • “There’s no reliable proven connection between dairy and the prostate. You have half of the studies showing an association, half of the studies showing no association… Even if there was a strong correlation, that doesn’t prove causation.”Chris Kesser
    • Two-thirds of people in the world are intolerant to dairy products
      • “There’s no logical explanation as to why it [dairy] would cause prostate cancer but no other cancers” – Chris Kesser
  • In a systematic review of 52 clinical trials, it was found that dairy products were inversely associated with inflammatory markers
    • “Which means that people who consumed dairy actually had lower levels of inflammatory markers” – Chris Kesser

Is Meat Bad for You?

(James says yes)

  • “I believe meat and dairy are bad for you” – James Wilks
  • James argues that eating meat can increase levels of heme iron, which can possibly lead to cancer
    • “Heme iron is associated with cardiovascular risks and heme iron is found in meat” – James Wilks

(Chris says no)

  • “Women with anemia inflammation markers on a diet high in red meat were not significantly different from those on a diet high in oily fish. There are also numerous studies involving paleo diets which contain meat and other types of animal protein that show a decrease in markers of inflammation.” – Chris Kesser
    • “We have lots of studies showing that when you eat plants along with the meat, you don’t see the effects that you might see if you’re just eating the crap standard American diet”
      • James seems to agree with this statement: “If you’re going to eat animal foods, you should eat a lot of plants with them” – James Wilks
  • Chris is not a proponent of the carnivore, low-carb, or keto diet
    • “The optimal human diet contains both plant and animal foods” Chris Kesser
  • At ~55:50 the paper being discussed found that the pooled results of non-American studies did not show a significant correlation between heme iron levels and red meat consumption. However, in America, such an association was found.
  • At ~2:09:00 the paper being discussed found that there was not a clear relationship between red meat and an increased risk for myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle)r

The Shift in Food Recommendations from Organizations

  • It seems more health organizations are recommending people shift their diet to mostly plant-based foods:
    • “Eat a nutritious diet based on a variety of foods originating mainly from plants, rather than animals” – Quote from the World Health Organization at ~2:21:00
    • “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended appropriately planned vegetarian diets for improved health” – Quote from a study at ~2:23:00
    • “Households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods. The evidence that such diets will prevent or delay a significant proportion of non-communicable chronic diseases is consistent” – Quote from a study at ~2:24:00

Vitamin B12

  • James argues that people used to be able to get Vitamin B12 by eating traces of dirt on plant foods or by drinking water from rivers or streams, but now because pesticides, antibiotics, and chlorine kill the bacteria that produce this vitamin, farm animals now have to be given B12 supplements
  • James argues that the best way to get B12 is to take a supplement instead of eating meat products, why?
    • “Researchers found no association between plasma B12 levels and meat, poultry, and fish intake, even though these foods supply the bulk of B12 in the diet. ‘It’s not because people aren’t eating enough meat,’ Tucker said. ‘The vitamin isn’t being absorbed.” – James Wilks reading a study at 1:24:55
    • “The vitamin B12 status of supplement users of vegans and omnivores was higher compared to non-supplement users, and a higher proportion of the non-supplement users had B12 parameters outside the reference range” –  James Wilks reading a study at 1:31:15
      • In other words, both vegans and meat-eaters should take B12 supplements 
  • Chris says that he hasn’t seen scientific evidence supporting the claim that B12 vitamins are given to farm animals
    • James then goes on to show a variety of vitamin/supplement products produced for farm animals (cows, chicken, pigs)

Thoughts on Protein

  • “One cup of cooked lentils, or a peanut butter sandwich, has about as much protein as three ounces of beef or three large eggs” James Wilks
    • A peanut butter sandwich has about 30 grams of protein (~20 grams from peanut butter, and ~10 from bread)
    • Three eggs have about 18 grams of protein
    • Three ounces of organic ground beef contains ~17.5 grams of protein
  • The largest study ever done comparing meat-eaters to vegans found that:
    • Meat-eaters eat about 75.8 grams of protein a day   
    • Vegans eat about 72.3 grams of protein a day
  • Brought up ~2:45:00, one joint-position paper stated that: “Current data suggests that dietary protein intake necessary to support metabolic adaptation, repair, remodeling, and protein turnover generally ranges from 1.2-2.0 g per kg of body weight per day” 
    • At ~2:46:00, another study found that: “Protein supplementation beyond a total daily protein intake of ~1.6 g/kg/day during RET [resistance-excercise-training] provided no further benefit of gains in muscle mass or strength” 
  • Chris shares a study at ~2:50:00 that says some people may need upwards of 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day
    • Male endurance athletes require 2.1-2.7 g/kg/day
    • Male bodybuilders require ~2.2 g/kg/day
  • Is animal protein superior to plant protein?
    • At ~3:14:00, a Stanford study reads: “The differences in the digestibility between plant and animal protein sources are only a few percentage points, contrary to historical findings in rats or determinations using less precise methods in humans”
      • Plants have all the amino acids people need, just in varying amounts
        • At ~3:20:00, one study brought up states: “There is no research to suggest that protein recommendations are different for athletes following a vegetarian diet than for those on an omnivorous diet”
        • As long as you’re getting enough protein, the source (plants or meat) doesn’t really matter!
  • James adds that when people on plant-based diets take creatine, they can gain more muscle mass than people on meat-based diets

Meat & Bloodflow

  • Does eating meat or plants affect blood flow? Possibly yes. At ~3:30:00, one study states that:
    • There was an 8.2% decrease in FMD (fibromuscular dysplasia) 2 hours after eating an animal-based meal and a 2.7% increase in FMD 2 hours after eating a plant-based meal
    • (FMD is the progressive twisting of the blood vessels throughout the body)

Additional Notes

  • According to one burial site, it was discovered that gladiators had a diet that was mostly plant-based 
  • The Game Changers is the first documentary that’s ever been accredited by the defense health agency of the Department of Defense
  • “Just because you’re vegan or vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re healthy” James Wilks
    • If you’re eating buns, sugar, etc., you’re a vegan but you aren’t eating healthy foods
  • “I think an omnivorous diet is the key to health”Joe Rogan
  • Carb Guidelines:
    • Chris Kesser’s carb level guidelines:
      • Low carb: 10-15%
      • Moderate carb: 15-30%
      • High carb: >30%
    • Peer-reviewed literature carb guidelines:
      • Low carb: 30-40%
      • Moderate carb: 40-65%
      • High carb: >65%
  • One issue with this podcast on both sides: There aren’t studies that compare a nutrivore diet to a whole foods plant-based diet
  • For a second opinion on this podcast, check out this Twitter thread commentary from Chris Masterjohn (@christmasterjohn) who holds a PhD in Nutritional Sciences.
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