Switch4Good collaborated with the International Olympic Committee to create the playbook on
plant-based nutrition to optimize athletic performance, slated for release on August 4.
Eight-time U.S. national cycling champion and former world record holder Dotsie Bausch’s coaches were neither elated nor encouraging when she adopted a plant-based diet while preparing for the 2012 London Olympic Games, eliminating the meat and dairy most commonly associated with fueling athletic performance. Information about how to be a plant-powered athlete wasn’t readily available thus Bausch figured it out mostly on her own with a lot of trial and error. She got it dialed in and rode to win an Olympic silver medal in team pursuit months shy of her fortieth birthday, making her the oldest athlete ever to win a medal in her discipline. Now, Bausch and Switch4Good, the evidence-based nonprofit organization she founded after her Olympic glory to advocate for a dairy-free world and plant-based living, have created the playbook she wished she had. “Let The Plant-based Games Begin: Optimizing Athletic Performance with Plant-based Nutrition” is slated to be released on August 4, the eleventh anniversary of Bausch’s Olympic triumph, and was written in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee’s Sustainability Department.
Bausch’s medal-winning accomplishment powered by a plant-based diet led to her becoming one of the athletes starring in “The Game Changers,” a 2018 documentary feature about meat, protein and strength from Academy Award-winning director Louie Psihoyos and executive producers James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul. A transcendent film championing plant-based athletes while presenting the science-backed benefits of their diet inspired many other athletes – Olympians, pros, college and elites – to want to go plant based, but most of their coaches frowned upon the dietary change, with the majority saying there isn’t any scientific evidence that the diet enhances performance. Many of the athletes contacted Bausch to express frustration and confusion along with conveying their hunger for information about how she was able to transform successfully.
“Once I committed to my dietary switch, I remember my many stays at the U.S. Olympic Training Center when I struggled to find foods that I could eat while foods I came to learn were not enhancing athletic excellence were readily available and served daily to athletes who would be representing our country in the Olympic spotlight,” recalled Bausch, a two-time Pan American gold medal winner.
So, Bausch put in calls to the International Olympic Committee to ask if they had a road map to help athletes eat plant based. None existed.
“Let The Plant-based Games Begin” Playbook
“I tapped into Switch4Good’s team of doctors, nutritionists and athletes to create the playbook. Nothing like it exists in the world. ‘Let The Plant-based Games Begin’ clearly explains the science and guides athletes to the right plant-based nutrition to optimize power, strength, speed and endurance, to reduce inflammation and to quicken recovery,” said Bausch, who hosts the weekly Switch4Good Podcast that has 3.2 million listeners.
“Let The Plant-based Games Begin: Optimizing Athletic Performance with Plant-based Nutrition” was written in five sections by Scott Stoll (MD, FABPMR and a 1994 Olympian); Nanci Guest (PhD, RD, CSCS), David Goldman (MS, RDN, CSCD, CSCS), Angie Sadeghi (MD), Jason Wrobel (CMC), Eric Sternlicht (PhD) and Bausch, who spent a year and a half working on the book.
Stoll penned the introduction explaining why the playbook was created before delving into the first section, “The Power of a Plant-based Plate to Optimize Biologic Systems.” Guest authored “Plant-based and Vegan Diets in Exercise and Sport.” Goldman contributed “Fueling, Blood Flow, Inflammation, and Immunity” before passing the baton to Sadeghi, a gastroenterologist, who wrote “Athletes Seeking a Healthy Gut for Optimal Performance.” Bausch, Wrobel and Sternlicht provided a wealth of “Implementation Tools and Resources” in the closing section that includes meal plans and recipes.
Late last year, Bausch and her Switch4Good teammates began sending “Let The Plant-based Games Begin” out to all 206 national Olympic committees and to every NFL and NBA team, targeting coaches, trainers, nutritionists and doctors. In the ramp up to the book release, they’re aiming to distribute the playbook to college and university teams across the sports spectrum as well as to other professional athletes and sports franchises. And, of course, Bausch made some of her Olympian colleagues aware of the book.
“This remarkable plant-based playbook guides every athlete towards greatness. But you better be ready for the inflammation in your body to disappear, your recovery to accelerate, your strength to improve, and your endurance to expand way beyond what you ever thought possible,” said multiple Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Soni.
Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Meagan Duhamel concurred, saying “Olympic athletes are always searching for an edge and pushing ourselves to our absolute limits. Eating plant-based food was my key to the top step of the podium. ‘Let The Plant-based Games Begin’ shows you exactly how to use plants to up your game.”
While not an Olympian, former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque enthusiastically champions the playbook as well.
“I have been living a plant-based life since 2009 and finally, we have an evidence-based playbook that directs athletes how to enhance their performance with plants. The global Olympic committees now have the data and the tools. I am excited for athletes, coaches, and trainers to put this into practice,” said Laraque.
“Let The Plant-based Games Begin” is also winning praise from the scientific community. Plant cell biologist David Welch said, “There is a growing body of peer-reviewed evidence of the myriad benefits of a plant-powered diet. With this playbook, the IOC is equipped to lead the global athletic community in improving the performance of athletes around the world — all while transforming the health and wellbeing of all humans, animals, and our planet.”
Proceeds from the sale of “Let The Plant-based Games Begin: Optimizing Athletic Performance with Plant-based Nutrition” will benefit Switch4Good. The nonprofit’s initiatives include government and corporate policy work alongside behavior change actions to bring about a more humane economy and a healthier planet; creating an active pediatrician program called Milky White Lies to teach and encourage parents to learn the dangers of dairy; introducing a bipartisan bill in congress carried by Representative Troy Carter and Representative Nancy Mace to add soy to the national school lunch program; conceiving the Justice Cup campaign to encourage Starbucks to drop their plant milk upcharge; launching the attention-grabbing Killer Milk billboard campaign in Los Angeles accompanied by a website (https://killermilk.com) to deliver the dairy-free message to 32 million people; and funding research.
Bausch is confident that athletes — from Olympians and professionals to college players and weekend warriors — will find “Let The Plant-based Games Begin” helpful in their own pursuit of athletic achievement. And she can’t help but wonder how her own plant-based transition would have been aided had the playbook been available as the resource that it is now and will be for many years to come.
“Imagine how much easier incorporating a plant-based diet into our training protocol would have been if we had this playbook. Well, here it is, and it is one-of-a-kind!”
Preorder “Let The Plant-based Games Begin” on Amazon
“Let The Plant-based Games Begin: Optimizing Athletic Performance with Plant-based Nutrition” is now available for preorders from Amazon Kindle. When you preorder the book, you will receive a coupon for a free dairy-free, plant-powered recovery shake.
For more information, visit www.switch4good.org.