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Former Cardinals Team Physician Recommends Athletes Follow A Plant-Based Diet

Ella Olsson | www.freshnlean.com/recipes
The new Netflix documentary "The Game Changers" posits that a plant-based diet can improve athletic performance.

In the new Netflix documentary "The Game Changers," a former team physician for the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals challenges what he refers to as a “locker-room mythology about meat, protein and strength.

Dr. James Loomis is the medical director at the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“The attitude of most athletes for many years was that you had to eat meat to get protein, [that] we need that protein to get big and strong, and again, that meat was the best source. But that’s clearly just not true,” Dr. James Loomis said Friday on St. Louis on the Air.

“There are many, many highly successful athletes, both in the strength world … but also endurance athletes, who really thrive on a plant-based diet.”

Loomis said that contrary to popular belief, plants provide an adequate amount of protein for athletes.

“You don’t turn on a special on mountain gorillas or elephants on National Geographic, and the first thing you worry about is, ‘Oh, my god, where do they get their protein?’” he said. “We’ve come to equate meat with protein, when in fact, the ultimate source of the protein in any living creature ultimately is the plants down the food chain. Plants have protein, plants have plenty of amino acids, and it is impossible to develop an individual amino acid or protein deficiency on a plant-based diet, as long as you are consuming enough calories.”

Hear Loomis’ conversation with host Sarah Fenske:

Loomis advises those interested in trying out a more plant-based diet to check out the recipes page of "The Game Changers" website.

Loomis currently serves as the medical director at the Barnard Medical Center in D.C.; is a clinical faculty member at Washington University’s School of Medicine; and serves as a tour physician for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.