Episode 10 - Alcohol and Exercise Performance: With Dr Ben Desbrow

Alcohol and Exercise Performance: With Dr Ben Desbrow

Dr Ben Desbrow is a Dietitian, Sports Dietitian and Associate Professor at Griffith Uni on the Gold Coast. In this episode I pick his brains on his research into alcohol and exercise, particularly his passion for beer.

He helped answer the question on most athletes' minds, can you have a beer after a hard training session or race?

He provides some evidence-based ideas around drinking alcohol and its effects on exercise performance. And provides practical tips to help you manage your post-race parties without destroying yourself.

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Episode Transcription

EP 10 – Alcohol and Exercise Performance: With Dr Ben Desbrow

Taryn Richardson  00:00
Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast, the show designed to serve you up evidence-based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy to digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it.

Taryn Richardson  00:45
Today's episode is with Dr Ben Desbrow. He's a dietitian, a sports dietitian and an Associate Professor at Griffith Uni, down on the Gold Coast. He's a prolific researcher in so many cool areas. Today I really wanted to pick his brain on his research in alcohol, in particular beer, which he's published some pretty cool studies in. I could chat to Ben all day. He's someone I really greatly admire and look up to. So, we did go on a bit of a tangent with some of the other research areas he's interested in, and a cool new piece of equipment he's bought himself for the lab. I hope you enjoy it and take away from it some of the thoughts and ideas we have around drinking, and its effects on exercise and performance and how to manage your post-race parties. Enjoy.

Taryn Richardson  01:34
Good morning and welcome to the podcast. Dr. Ben Desbrow.

Dr Ben Desbrow  01:38
Morning, Taryn.

Taryn Richardson  01:39
How are you?

Dr Ben Desbrow  01:40
Could not be better.

Taryn Richardson  01:41
Have you had your coffee?

Dr Ben Desbrow  01:43
I have actually. 10 minutes post-coffee.

Taryn Richardson  01:46
Perfect. So, you'll be peaking in about 20.

Dr Ben Desbrow  01:49
Yeah, and then it'll be sustained peak for the rest of the day. Try and hang on to the caffeine vibe.

Taryn Richardson  01:56
That's a nice little segue into what you do. So, for people that have no idea who you are, can you just give me a brief rundown of who you are and what you do?

Dr Ben Desbrow  02:05
Broadly, I'm an academic at a university. My background is that I'm a dietitian. I started my tertiary studies in exercise science. I was always interested in Sport and Exercise, and then branched out and became more interested in what fuelled exercise, and then ended up working for a brief period of time, both in private practice, which had a sport, exercise nutrition component.

Dr Ben Desbrow  02:09
Then I had a fellowship down in Canberra at the Institute of Sport for a little while, which really sort of then put me on a path to learn more, as much as I could about sports nutrition. So, I then embarked on a sort of more research-based career and did a PhD in sports nutrition. And I've been down at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, for coming up on two decades, it scares me to say. My research is sort of in two domains, but I just see them as one broad spectrum. One is in sort of Clinical Nutrition, so hospital-based nutrition, where I worked, I worked as a clinician for about 10 years ago at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, and then obviously, the other areas in Sport and Exercise nutrition.

Taryn Richardson  03:06
I would say you're a fairly prolific researcher. We're talking, you produce at least one paper a month.

Dr Ben Desbrow  03:14
Yeah, I mean, when you do research, and you have some momentum behind you, the great thing is you have a team. So, it's not you doing everything all the time, which is very much the case, if you're doing a PhD. You're sort of hands on in the trenches, doing everything with some help from your supervisor. Now I tend to be that supervisor. So, we come up with ideas, and then have other people going and doing them for us. So, I have had some great students come through our lab and that's allowed us to be quite prolific as far as outputs are concerned. So, we sort of, you know, been publishing 12 to 18 papers a year for about 10 years now.

Taryn Richardson  03:47
Wow. Harnessing the student power, but you still got to supervise them all, you still got to be across everything, like you're putting your name on that paper. So, it's got to be good quality work. And there's a lot of time that goes into one, you know, collecting the research and then reviewing and reviewing and reviewing and redirecting.

Dr Ben Desbrow  04:03
It's work. But you know, I come from a family who are trades people. I guess, I come to work and ask myself interesting questions and I get the opportunity to develop a young person and their career. I'd do it for nothing if I could survive and you know, have a house and live. To me, it's a pleasure to come to work and ask questions and have the opportunity to do that. So, yeah, you work hard. But I also recognize that it's a very fortunate situation to find myself in.

Dr Ben Desbrow  04:33
The other thing is that I think in an environment like this, you get a lot of benefit, if you create an environment, which is enjoyable. If you're in that circumstance, you can get some amazing things done with a relatively small team. And I sort of learned that through my career pretty early on, you know, particularly when I was in Canberra. It's a relatively small team down there at the time, but we were able to achieve some pretty amazing things with some pretty impressive leadership and the most important element of all of that was the spirit and good nature of the people. It wasn't necessarily what they knew, it was the approach that they took to create an environment, which encouraged people to do the best work that they could. And I guess I, I tried where I could, as best as I could to harness that philosophy and sort of bring it to my current workplace.

Taryn Richardson  05:17
Yeah, amazing. I find a lot of sports dietitians have that mentality, like we love our job. It's not really work when you love it that much.

Dr Ben Desbrow  05:25
No, and you know, and that's a great privilege. You know, when you consider jobs that you can do and the feelings that you can get from your employment. To be in a situation where you love your job is a great asset to have in your life.

Taryn Richardson  05:37
Yes, we just need better earning capacity hey Ben.

Dr Ben Desbrow  05:41
Well, got to be creative with these things. There are different ways to earn money.

Taryn Richardson  05:48
All right. So, your research is pretty cool. I think it's really cool. You've done lots of work in caffeine. You've worked out how much caffeine is in Nespresso pods and the different strengths, I guess. You've done a lot of stuff in rehydration and refuelling. And the main thing that I want to talk to you today about is your research in beer and exercise and etc. Pretty cool area of research and the stuff that you've done in that space seems fun.

Dr Ben Desbrow  06:15
Yeah, I mean, no one said science needed to be boring. And I spend a lot of time watching human behaviour and because I've got an academic qualification, you're allowed to do that. It's stalking otherwise, but you know, for me, its data gathering in terms of my next sort of study idea and so from an alcohol perspective, I was always fascinated by the amount and volume of fluid that could be consumed after exercise, particularly in the form of beer. When we were doing early studies on rehydration, the first thing that we would clamp, or the first thing that we would control was the volume of fluid that would be delivered. Then we'd have a look at carbohydrate content or the sodium content, or we've done things like looking at the rate at which somebody drinks and whether that has an influence on how much fluid they retain, but we would always clamp the amount of fluid that we gave, and then we'd look at one of these other parameters. Because the amount of fluid that you drink has a huge influence on the potential fluid retention that you have.

Dr Ben Desbrow  07:12
So, from a fluid recovery perspective, the volume of consumption is critically important. It doesn't take you too long looking around to realise that people like drinking this one particular fluid, and they drink it in jugs as a community. From a rehydration perspective that resonated with me, and I thought why don't we look at this fluid, because it's sort of starting off as the perfect fluid to potentially explore from a rehydration perspective. Because people like drinking it, they don't tend to get what I would describe as flavour fatigue. People typically stop drinking beer, because they've got responsibilities the next day. They've got to get maybe in a car and drive. They don't tend to stop drinking beer because they think, "Oh, I couldn't possibly fit another beer in". It tends to be other reasons and that makes it actually quite unique. You know, it sort of triggered my initial interest. Then we started to look at it from a sort of more scientific perspective.

Taryn Richardson  08:04
So, is that how you got into studying alcohol and sports performance, just basically going out drinking and thinking like a researcher?

Dr Ben Desbrow  08:12
Well, I actually don't drink a lot. This is possibly quite surprising, and you mentioned that we did caffeine work, and we won't talk about the caffeine work today. But I never drank coffee either before I started to do research on coffee. I drink a little bit more beer now. But I certainly don't drink even to the average intakes of normal people. But I was just fascinated by working with people. I've never found the approach of telling people what to do particularly appealing. It was more about what are they already doing, and can that be modified in a way that enhances health, minimises risk, promotes some sort of benefit.

Dr Ben Desbrow  08:45
Remember that one of the key elements to me about nutrition is that I'm becoming less and less focused on nutrition information panel, and more focused on the human behaviour that's around the food. And that's one of the things that I loved about beer was that it was very socially accepted. People felt included and it was part of the culture of sport to potentially consume this product afterwards. Yes, it had alcohol in it, that was always going to be a bit of a grey cloud. But it had many other attributes. Its plant-based, you know, particular flavour property and historically, it's had that position as a sort of post-exercise beverage. It's something that people did as part of their behaviour. So that's, that's why I was particularly drawn to it initially.

Taryn Richardson  09:30
Yeah, I guess it's got sodium, it's got fluid, it's got carbohydrate, it's kind of ticking some of those recovery boxes. So, you can see why it's happening. It's also part of the culture, I guess, in certain sports.

Dr Ben Desbrow  09:42
Yeah, it's got a lot of properties that potentially are also you know, influencing inflammatory processes. You know, being plant-based and multiple plant, it contains a whole variety of sort of botanical compounds that may influence recovery, and that's quite appealing.

Taryn Richardson  09:57
So, before we deep dive into that beer stuff. Can I ask you, what is the best fluid for rehydration?

Dr Ben Desbrow  10:05


You posed this question to me earlier. And I said, I've definitely got the answer. And the answer is, it depends.

Taryn Richardson  10:11
I know.

Dr Ben Desbrow  10:12
More broadly speaking, the best fluid for rehydration, what would you anticipate that I would say?

Taryn Richardson  10:19
Hey, I'm running this. If we're going to pick just one fluid and somebody wasn't going to eat.

Dr Ben Desbrow  10:30
No, no, I never said that. I said, what is the best fluid that you think most people could consume post-exercise?

Taryn Richardson  10:37
Depends on if they're eating.

Dr Ben Desbrow  10:39
Well, are most people eating post-exercise?

Taryn Richardson  10:42
Once they've had sports dietitian input, yes.

Dr Ben Desbrow  10:44
So, answer your own question now.

Taryn Richardson  10:46
So, say somebody that hasn't seen a sports dietitian before. I'm talking about triathletes here. They would grab water and sports drink from the finishing line and that would be it. Like they don't do a good job of their recovery until I help them through that. If I was going to pick one liquid for somebody for rehydration, and they weren't going to eat, I would pick milk from the perspective of carbs, protein, fluid, electrolytes,

Dr Ben Desbrow  11:11
I would tend to agree and disagree, in that most people. So, when you cross the finish line in a triathlon, and yes, you may get access to sports drink, and you may get access to water, and there may be cut up fruit, it's been a while since I've finished a triathlon. But that's certainly what they used to serve. So, you'd mill around after the event, and maybe for that next half an hour, that's what you're exposed to. But then not too long beyond that, people then start to open up their options, either other fluids, or as you mentioned, food.

Dr Ben Desbrow  11:39
So, for me, on most occasions, the most appropriate beverage post exercise is water. Because it's pretty unlikely that you're going to go two hours or three hours without eating something. In most settings, unless you go to bed but that's not the case, unless you're doing a triathlon at night, and I'm not seeing too many of those. So, Ironman athletes, that's very different. I've seen plenty of those finish at night. The only caveat to that is they rarely get up the next morning and do another Ironman. So, the recovery time is a little bit longer for that individual. And that's obviously a very extreme, very contextual scenario, where you might be very, very purposeful in terms of how you manage your recovery from that.

Dr Ben Desbrow  12:20
But for most people who aren't necessarily training multiple times a day, who are doing activity in order to maintain a body composition, or change a performance, body composition around the physique that they're looking for, then water is going to restore that fluid, very effectively, if there's food present. That makes great evolutionary sense, because you can die from dehydration very, very quickly. So, if you're dehydrated, the body has lots of regulatory and control mechanisms to try and restore that fluid if you start consuming fluid.

Dr Ben Desbrow  12:55
As soon as you bring in the nutrients, and the mixed nature of nutrients that you often get from food. Provided you've got access to a suitable volume of water, our studies have shown that you restore that water as effectively as if you brought that fluid in in the form of a sports drink or even milk. The difference is that you don't offset the calories that are in the beverage. So, if you're looking to maintain a certain calorie budget, which most people in the community are, maybe not all of your listeners, if they've got very, very high training loads, then in that situation, the calories from the drink are not going to be beneficial.

Dr Ben Desbrow  13:31
If you've got someone who's doing multiple training sessions a day, they're putting themselves in a situation where calorie intake is important, and they need to bump that up, then a drink like milk becomes very effective because it's providing fluid and nutrients and calories, which they will then go on and eat something. But the additional calories that are in the fluid are equally valuable to that individual who's got a high energy demand.

Taryn Richardson  13:57
I bang on about this all the time like the best rehydration fluid is water. Like you don't need to be sucking back electrolyte tablets. You don't need to be chasing down chocolate milks and things like that, because most people are eating. And you've got naturally electrolytes in the foods that help with that fluid retention. So, water is the best fluid for recovery?

Dr Ben Desbrow  14:17
Correct and most people will eat those electrolytes in far greater concentrations than they'll be able to drink them anyway. There's only so much sodium you can put in a drink before it becomes very quickly unpalatable. Trust me I've tried. We've tried some pretty horrible drinks in our lab. You're far better off to have a sandwich with a bit of spread and bread and any pretty much ingredient on it will bring in a lot more electrolytes than you can bring in in a beverage.

Taryn Richardson  14:42
Something that Coxy taught me, two slices of bread have more sodium in them than a bottle of sports drink.

Dr Ben Desbrow  14:47
Absolutely and you try and drink, you know a 50 millimoles solution of sodium. We've done beer studies in our lab where we've taken it up to about 50 millimoles and I described the taste of that. It's like you've gone on a fishing trip, you've got a beer on the side of the boat, and you knock it off, and you apply a three second rule. So, it's falling to the bottom of the ocean, and you scoop it up, and then you start drinking it. It's unpleasant, so you're far better off to have maybe a little bit of sodium in there, a tolerable amount, and then bring in the additional sodium in the food that you eat.

Taryn Richardson  15:21
What's the maximum amount of sodium that you can put into a beverage for it to still be palatable?

Dr Ben Desbrow  15:26
Well, it depends on the other ingredients in the beverage. If we concentrate on beer, you know, we've done 5,10,15,25 and up to 50 millimoles. 50 millimoles is research purposes only. You can probably get away with about, you know, 15 to probably 25 millimoles per litre of sodium in a beer, and it depends on the type of beer. So, you know, you'd probably be able to put some more into like a beer like a stout, then you may be able to in some of the lagers and things like that. Beer has a very, very diverse flavour profile and that's the other thing I love about it. There's lots of things that you can tweak in beer, to potentially change the other ingredients in the product without necessarily affecting its flavour as much as a beverage like a sports drink or water. So, you can hide things in it.

Taryn Richardson  16:13
So, for the people that don't understand what 50 millimoles per litre is, like how much say, a teaspoon of salt, how much would that be adding to say, a bottle of beer or a can or whatever?

Dr Ben Desbrow  16:24
It's about just under 20 millimoles. So, every 23 milligrams is one millimole of sodium. So, divide 1000 by 23. What do you get? 43.47. So, you get about 40 odd millimoles in one gram of sodium.

Taryn Richardson  16:38
So, half a gram of sodium, adding that into a bottle of beer is roughly that concentration.

Dr Ben Desbrow  16:45
So, without this turning into a chemistry class. Salt is obviously sodium and chloride. The molecular weight of chloride is heavier than sodium. So combined they're about 58.5, so 1000 milligrams of salt give you 1000 divided by 58.3 = 17. So that's where my 17 millimoles came from before that I said. The salt is only partly sodium, it's 23 and then 35.5 milligrams come from the chloride component. So, it's a bit less than half sodium. So, I talk about sodium, because sodium is the main driver of rehydration in a beverage when you don't have food available. And so, you need to know how much sodium is in the beverage, not how much sodium chloride is in the beverage. Does that make sense? When I was talking before, about how much sodium can you stick in a beverage. That's sodium, not sodium chloride. it would be about 50 millimoles per litre would be a very high sodium beverage.

Dr Ben Desbrow  17:20
The hardest part for laypeople is to measure that out properly, because unless they've got really fine-tuned scales, then it's hard to get that right.

Dr Ben Desbrow  18:07
Well, a sachet, if you go to the fish and chip shop and get a sachet, that's going to be about one gram. So that's about 17 millimoles of sodium in that. It'd be three of those in a litre. Which may not sound like a lot, but when you stick it in, and you taste it, it's pretty ordinary, like it's got a very, very potent flavour profile.

Taryn Richardson  18:28
Brutal and so you've subjected people to that in the lab.

Dr Ben Desbrow  18:32
Well, I've subjected myself to it in the lab, as well as other people. So, I'm not prepared to do anything to other people that I'm not prepared to do myself. In fact, it's often worse for the researchers because we often do a bit of self-experimentation before we bring our first voluntary participant into the lab. So, if you're doing a study, which has got physiological measures, like we're looking at urine output, or you know, measures of breath alcohol concentration, or things like that, we will often do that on ourselves first, because it's objective information. We can't bias the results or anything like that. And so, if you're doing a study where you're trying to get people to lose a certain percent of their body weight, and then replace that with fluid, we'll often try and do that on ourselves first to see what the consequences are. When you're doing anything for the first time you do it really poorly. And you end up making mistakes. So, you make mistakes on yourself. And then you go, well, I won't do that again when I've got a real participant.

Taryn Richardson  19:23
And then how do you get home when you're drunk in the lab?

Dr Ben Desbrow  19:26
Well, that's why I got married. I do you recall the first alcohol study we did, we used full-strength beer and we've done other studies with mid-strength beer and light beer. As I said, I was the subject for the first study, and we hadn't really even done that much work around dehydration in the lab. We were trying to get to 2% dehydration at the end of the exercise task and then we normally would give 1.5 times the amount of fluid loss, so it'd be normally 3% if we've lost 2%. In the first study, I ended up losing 2.4% of my body weight, which meant that I had to drink more, which was 3.6% of my body weight in full-strength beer. You had to drink it in an hour, and you have to do these studies typically in the morning so that you can monitor people for a number of hours afterwards. So 10 o'clock in the morning, you've done a good bout of exercise, you're really dehydrated and then you've had an absolute skinful of beer and you're like, ragingly drunk at like 10 o'clock in the morning. And then by three o'clock, you've got this opportunity to hop in the car and talk to your wife who drives your home and you're starting to develop this sort of headache, hangover feeling, and you got to pick the kids up on the way home. So, you know, someone's got to do it right?

Taryn Richardson  20:39
For the name of research, right? Would that be your favourite area of research do you think is in beer or is it something else these days?

Dr Ben Desbrow  20:49
I don't necessarily have a favourite area; I just love finding things out for the first time. I've become more and more a nerd as I've gotten older. Whenever a student brings me new data, I get really excited. Sometimes I'm collecting myself, but more often than not, we set up an experiment. The student will do it maybe with our help in the lab. But when they've got, you know, an unblinding of their study, and they're told okay, this subject was on this trial on this date, and they go away, and they and they realign the data. So, we can actually see what impact it's had. When they bring that into my office and say, Well, here's the data, like, it's just awesome. We're the first people to see that.

Dr Ben Desbrow  21:28
So, at the moment the thing that is exciting me at the moment is we've got a little bomb calorimeter here so we can directly measure the energy content of food. That's really exciting me at the moment, we've measured the energy content of some of the foods over in the hospital, because we're particularly concerned that maybe we're overestimating even our estimates of how much food they're being provided or how much energy they're consuming. And obviously, when you've got a critically ill person, you want to know that you're feeding them, or at least what proportion of their requirements that you're meeting. And it's just been fascinating. And so, we're going to do some more of that work, not necessarily just in the hospital.

Dr Ben Desbrow  22:02
But I'm also particularly fascinated and have concerns about the energy content of alcoholic beverages. In Australia, as in many countries around the world, if you make a beer, for instance, you don't have to directly determine how much energy is in it. All you need to do is estimate that based on the ingredients that you put in, and then you do a calculation, and it spits out a number. No one's actually measuring directly the energy content of your products. So, whenever you see something that says, this is a, you know, 100 calorie beer, or you know, a wine that's got X number of calories, and we're starting to see more and more of those products. They are estimates, I mean, they're allowed to do that, there's no problem as far as the food regulation system goes, because that's all that they expect or want from a food manufacturer.

Dr Ben Desbrow  22:48
But we hopefully will shortly have the capacity to measure the energy content of alcoholic beverages from what I've seen on food. So non-alcoholic food, the food labels are not fantastic. And so, I would imagine that they're probably even worse when it comes to alcoholic beverages because of fermentation changes that occur and the number of sugars that remain and how much conversion of that carbohydrate into alcohol occurs. So that's what's exciting me at the moment.

Taryn Richardson  23:14
So just for people that don't know what that is, it's a machine that's going to measure the number of calories or energy in a certain food. So, you put a muesli bar in, and the label might say that it's, you know, 400 kilojoules, but the machine will tell you exactly what it is.

Dr Ben Desbrow  23:28
It actually burns the food and that's how we determine the energy content because it releases energy, and we can measure how much energy is there. Then from that, based on some other conversions, we can convert it back to what we would call metabolizable energy. So, what we measure is what we call gross energy, which is purely the heat that's generated when we combust something. But obviously, when it comes into your body, it's not as if you've got a little furnace going on, and you're actually burning that energy. There's digestive processes and other things that maybe cause some of that energy to be dissipated without us necessarily ingesting it, or we're going to excrete some of it. So, we put some conversions on that. But it does give you a direct measure of the total amount of energy that could possibly be drawn from that food. And then we can compare that to the food label.

Taryn Richardson  24:14
So, what's been the range of how inaccurate they've been compared to what the label has said?

Dr Ben Desbrow  24:20
Some of them are shocking. In Australia, we don't even have a requirement for the label to have a certain degree of accuracy. All we say, to a food manufacturer, and this includes alcohol manufacturers. All you need to do is add up the ingredient macronutrients and the amount of protein, the amount of fat, the amount of carbohydrate and the amount of fibre as well. And then from there using an equation, you can come up with the total energy that's derived from that product. Now, as I said, that's the only requirement that we have in Australia, apart from recording a certain level of accuracy, certain level decimal places. And so, what we've done is we've looked at the US so the Food & Drug Administration, the FDA in the States. What do you think would be a reasonable level of accuracy? What sort of percentage away from what's written on the label? What do you think would be reasonable

Taryn Richardson  25:09

Dr Ben Desbrow  25:10
Yeah, well, I think that's probably okay. You know, if you're manufacturing, you know, a muesli bar, and you know, you cut it up sort of slightly differently, or you've got, you know, more sultanas in one versus the next one, you know, 10% give you a reasonable margin. There actual allowance is plus or minus 20%. So, it's very broad. It's very generous. And we've done as I said, some comparisons to the hospital food and we've got a number of foods, quite a number of them that fall outside of that plus or minus 20% range. We're seeing large variations on a very generous equivalency boundary if you'd like, a plus or minus 20%. But we haven't published that work so I'm not going to say anything more about it. And it's a long way from alcohol, but it's heading into the alcohol direction.

Taryn Richardson  25:51
You told me to keep you on track. But I could talk to you forever because you do such cool research. So, I think about people like from a dieting perspective, who read labels and count all their calories and put them into apps. And, you know, first and foremost, depends on where that app has got its food database from, but then also, the food item might be more than 20%, either direction of what that is, anyway, so.

Dr Ben Desbrow  26:23
So, what we are planning to do in the next phase of our work, one will be an alcohol arm, because I think that's quite novel and as I said, there's a lot of products that are marketed around calories.

Taryn Richardson  26:33
Yeah, can you do low carb beers, specifically, because people think they're being healthy because they're having low carb beers or low carb wines.

Dr Ben Desbrow  26:39
We'll do alcohol as a spectrum. So, we will look at non-alcoholic beer through to low alcoholic wines through to mid-strength through to full strength. So, we'll do the whole spectrum. The challenge is that it's a little bit tricky to burn alcohol-based products in the calorimeter. So, we're still working on the method where we've got a degree of robustness to what we're doing. Because obviously, if we want to do this, what we're saying is we want to be more accurate than the label. Yes, and have some confidence in that. We don't just want to go on several, it's different and we find out that our measure is actually pretty crappy as well, because that's not great science.

Dr Ben Desbrow  26:59
But the other aspect that I want to have a look at is around pre-packaged meals we're seeing far more of these foods consumed, but also marketed around having a calorie program based around them. Pre-packaged things like your light & easy type meals or your you know, calorie-controlled pre-packaged foods. We'd like to have a good go and good look at those products as well. Because as you said, you know, people are purposely choosing those products around managing a calorie budget. And that could be a high-calorie budget or a low-calorie budget. But irrespective we want to get a feel for how accurate they are.

Taryn Richardson  27:57
Nice. I'm excited for that one. Maybe we'll get you back on and you can talk about the wide range of spectrum of calories that are in alcohol.

Dr Ben Desbrow  28:05
I'm more than happy to do that turn but don't get me down to a date.

Taryn Richardson  28:11
Let me know if this sounds like you. Do you feel exhausted by the end of the training week? Do you crave sweets in the afternoon and feel like you need a nap? Training for three disciplines can be absolutely exhausting if you haven't dialled in your nutrition. It can be frustrating when you can't quite piece together the solid race performance you know you're capable of and confusing when there's so much information out there. But you're not sure what's the right method for you.

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Taryn Richardson  29:14
All right, so let's talk about alcohol and exercise and performance and rehydration, those sorts of things. So, a lot of people will have a drink most nights. They might enjoy a glass of red wine with a meal, or I guess the other end of the spectrum is people do big training days and that's generally their weekend drinking days. So, they might be drinking much more compared to say a rest day. The other areas, people going to the pub or the bar or whatever, after a race and having their you know, post-race party with their club or squad or whatever. I just want people to have an understanding of what actually happens in the body and some guidelines around drinking so that they're not actually affecting their performance.

Dr Ben Desbrow  29:56
Sure. Well, it's a sort of a broad-church alcohol in terms of understanding the impact that it would have. So, what I'll do is, I'll divide the conversation up into sort of two, if you like. One is drinking large amounts of alcohol and then the other is low to moderate alcohol intake. The way you've described it, is there's two common scenarios that your listeners may drink under? One is that sort of small amount on a regular basis and the other one is the sort of more sort of binge or larger acute intake?

Dr Ben Desbrow  30:26
We know more from a scientific perspective about the latter, a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time. And so, what do we know about that? Well, we know that if you drink a large amount of alcohol, it impacts on muscle protein synthetic response. There's really only one good study in the literature that's measured that directly but there are several studies that have looked at functional outcomes, like your muscles ability to produce force or pain scores, or, you know, these sort of more functional practical measures of recovery. But Evelyn Parr's work, which was published a few years ago now is the only study that I'm aware of that's directly measured muscle protein synthetic response in response to a large amount of acute alcohol consumption. That was with and without additional protein and the alcohol definitely has an influence on muscle protein synthetic response.

Dr Ben Desbrow  31:16
What do we know about endurance athletes, because that was in response to resistance exercise? We don't know. What's my feeling, it's not going to be good for things like mitochondrial biogenesis, and things like that which your endurance athlete is far more interested in turning on that protein, machinery within the muscle that's about energy production. So that's the muscle recovery or the muscle strength side substrate replacement, muscle glycogen replacement with large amounts of acute alcohol. Again, there's very, very few studies in this area. The best study was done coming up on more than 20 years ago now and it showed that even with a very large amount of alcohol, it didn't tend to influence directly muscle glycogen resynthesis.

Dr Ben Desbrow  31:23
So, a bottle of wine?

Dr Ben Desbrow  31:28
Yes, so the sort of alcohol intake, were you thinking to yourself, I'm not looking forward to doing anything tomorrow, other than sort of lying-in bed and groaning a little bit, that type of alcohol intake. And so it didn't show an influence on muscle glycogen resynthesis, per se, but what it did show was that when the alcohol offset carbohydrate, if a person consumed alcohol, and as a consequence of that less carbohydrate in the environment, where there was a smaller intake of carbohydrate in that post-exercise space, muscle glycogen was attenuated. But when there was carbohydrate available, and alcohol, the alcohol didn't have a direct influence on muscle glycogen resynthesis.

Dr Ben Desbrow  32:43
Mind you, if you're drinking that amount of alcohol, you're probably not interested in carbohydrate loading for your endurance event the next day. So, you know, these studies are often set up to explore the mechanism, rather than thinking about the practicality of whether someone's going to drink this amount, and then potentially exercise and examine, never underestimate sort of human behaviour, but it's probably not the ideal scenario. You know, if we think about recovery, we normally think about the R's of recovery. So, rehydration, we think about resynthesis, so muscle protein, resynthesis, refuelling, as in muscle glycogen, and then the other R for me is about relaxation.

Taryn Richardson  33:20
See, I've just done an episode on the four R's of recovery, and that one wasn't in there. But we might need to make the five R's of recovery.

Dr Ben Desbrow  33:26
What was your other R?

Taryn Richardson  33:28
Revitalise, by putting some vitamins and minerals in. Making sure there's colour on your plate. Most people forget.

Dr Ben Desbrow  33:34
That's very good. That's very good. I like that and so from a relaxation perspective, you know, a large amount of alcohol will obviously provide an element of that. It also provides an element of risk, you know, if you're consuming large amounts of alcohol.

Dr Ben Desbrow  33:49
There's some alcohol education. material is produced from a university in the States. And it describes someone's drinking behaviour, as in different zones. Once you go past a certain zone, the last zone is what we call a zone of regret. So prior to that, you're in the pleasure zone, but at the extreme intake, and it's not necessarily specified in terms of drinks, because it's so subjective as to how much somebody might be able to tolerate in their individual variants. But I do like that concept of, you don't want to enter the zone of regret, what I described fire as you know, a good servant, but a bad mistress alcohols the same, you want to be the master of it.

Dr Ben Desbrow  34:29
You don't want it to dictate to you what impact is going to have. And so, you don't want to enter the zone of regret. You know, life is about balance and those opportunities will present but they need to be purposeful around your program and manage that right. So, avoiding the zone of regret, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that if you drink 12 standard drinks after you know an exercise, you're not going to recover fantastically well whether that be from a muscle protein synthetic response or, or what have you.

Dr Ben Desbrow  34:33
So, I'm far more interested in low and moderate alcohol intakes and the influence that they have on the R's of recovery. And this is where it gets very confusing for me because what the science does, and what I do, or what I see, there's a malalignment there. So, if I said to you, what's a low alcohol intake? The clients that you see or the listeners that you have, what do you think they might define as a small amount of alcohol?

Taryn Richardson  35:23
So, a glass of wine an evening, but it's not what you and I would think is a glass-like it's not a standard drink, it's not 100mLs of wine. It would be probably more like 200 or 250mLs of wine, which would be up to you know, two and a half to three standard drinks.

Dr Ben Desbrow  35:39
Okay, so we're talking 25-30grams of alcohol, right? The often-prescribed doses that they will give because obviously, we're all different body weights in a scientific study, you know, maybe 1.25, or 1.5 grams per kilo body weight. So, to put that into perspective, for, you know, a 75, or let's say 70 kilo athlete. 1.5, times that is over 100 grams of alcohol. So, it's more than 10 standard drinks. In terms of low alcohol, they would often describe that as 0.5-1 gram. So again, if you've got your 75 kilo, or 70 kilo athletes rather, you know, that's 35-70 grams of alcohol. That's what they consider to be a low moderate dose.

Taryn Richardson  36:28
Yeah. So, for the dieticians we’re like, well, that's a lot still.

Dr Ben Desbrow  36:33
For an average drinker! For me, like I said, I don't drink a lot. Like if I have four standard drinks in a relatively short period of time, I'm telling you my PIN numbers. I'm like, completely uninhibited at that point. I'm like a lightest weight drinker. A lot of people who are very athletic are also that, just in terms of their bodyweight, you know, because people are typically going to drink an absolute amount. They're not going to break it down and say, X number of grams per kilo body weight. So, if you're lighter, you're going to quickly find yourself in that range potentially, or you're more easily going to find yourself in that range.

Dr Ben Desbrow  37:08
So that's what science says is a low to moderate alcohol intake, 0.5-1kg/body weight. But I see a lot of people drink one or two stubbies, and they might be mid-strength studies, 25 grams of alcohol is still well below that value. Now, there's next to no studies in the literature on amounts that are less than 0.5-1g/kg body weight. There's just nothing there. Trust me, I've looked. But why? Why do you think that's the case?

Taryn Richardson  37:38
Because we're trying to find a really good result by doing the research. And so maybe potentially, we can't say for certain at that low dose that there is a response or not?

Dr Ben Desbrow  37:48
That's right. I mean, studies cost a large amount of money. If you set off and you know, from the literature, that 0.5g/kg body weight doesn't show an effect on this outcome, you've got no justification for going less than that, just because that's what a lot of people do. So, it's not an accident that those studies don't exist. It's because scientists like to see an effect or tease out an effect if there is one. And if you're not seeing large effects at 0.5, you could embark on a study less than that, but you'd need a huge number of participants. A massive investment. And even then, you're running the risk of not seeing an effect, because you can't tease it out.

Dr Ben Desbrow  38:29
So that should provide your listeners with some comfort in that, a small amount of alcohol is not necessarily going to produce detectable impacts on their performance. That doesn't mean to say that it doesn't have an effect, it just means that we can't necessarily detect it in a study. And there's lots of things that we know just through human trial and error that we don't need a study for. And for some individuals, if they're having one, or you know, two and a half to three standard drinks a day in that individual, yes, it may not affect them in a study where we do it one-off and the person comes in lab, we give them that acute amount and then we follow that up in terms of their recovery. But we've got no data on somebody doing that day after day, or five days a week or whatever the program might be. So just because we don't have the science doesn't necessarily give you the green light to go and do it.

Taryn Richardson  39:28
Yes, thank you for saying that. Because I feel like people listening are like "cool Ben's saying I can drink! Sweet!"

Dr Ben Desbrow  39:33
No Ben's not saying that. But Ben's a scientist and he looks for evidence. And just because there's no evidence doesn't mean to say that it's all good. At that point, we have to use a little bit of common sense and best judgment.

Taryn Richardson  39:44
I kind of like to try and get people to think a bit more strategically about their alcohol intake. So rather than having alcohol on their massive training days, or the night before they're meant to do a quality session, maybe trying to not drink on those evenings because yeah, the research may not be there. But we know that alcohol does block muscle protein synthesis pathways, potentially impacting muscle glycogen storage and replenishment.

Taryn Richardson  40:09
So why would you risk it like if you have a performance mindset, and you're out there to train and get fitter and faster and better. It could potentially be a wasted session if you're drinking and so if you just want to get out there and have a punt, it's all for fun, and you want to have a good life, and it doesn't really matter. But if you're out there trying to perform better, get faster, get fitter, maybe get leaner, then I'd think a bit more strategically about where you place alcohol in your week.

Taryn Richardson  40:37
We're not saying don't drink ever. But yeah, just think like a scientist, maybe think about trying to not drink the night before those big sessions or the day of massive sessions and see if you feel any different. Use yourself as the guinea pig and see if you can see an impact on your performance or tiredness or recovery or anything like that.

Dr Ben Desbrow  40:58
That's about it being a good servant, not a master. The research that's been done around public health and alcohol and I know that there's a number of researchers in this country that have and are actively trying to change the focus from this, a little bit of alcohol is actually protective. There's next to no evidence that that's the case. What there is, is evidence that it doesn't do you potentially any harm. But again, it depends how no alcohol is defined. Is it absolute abstinence, versus zero to a certain number of drinks in a month, or in a week? There are studies that divide people up into abstainers, so people who never drink and those who drink a little bit but include small amounts of drinkers somewhat show different responses in that the abstainers are often better than the ones who drink just even a little bit. But it depends on how the studies are designed. I've never seen a study that shows that abstainers actually have worse health outcomes than those who drink a little bit, if that makes sense. So, it's very convenient for people to think drinking some alcohol is good for me, or I need to do this to protect my heart, or it's got antioxidants, which they do. Well, the issue is you can get those things from things that don't contain alcohol as well. You don't necessarily need to drink wine, to get those things. Fruits and vegetables will also provide you with these things.

Taryn Richardson  42:26
It's not very sexy.

Dr Ben Desbrow  42:27
It's not but there is some research to say that maybe you do look sexier if you eat more fruit and vegetables. But that's for another podcast. But the point that I'm making here is to reinforce what you said, is to be quite strategic with your alcohol intake. I said right at the start I'm becoming less and less focused on nutrition information panel, maybe it's just getting older. But think about what alcohol provides. It provides a social connection. It provides an element of relaxation and allows you to unwind. And that's important social engagement with teammates, or feeling as though you're sort of fitting in.

Dr Ben Desbrow  43:00
These things, they are important. We're not machines, we do go through cycles where we need to unwind and wind up as life is a cycle like that. So, your alcohol intake should be purposeful. Rather than, well, this is just what I do at five o'clock every day. That's probably not the approach that we would take for alcohol consumption in an individual circumstance where someone's trying to get the best from themselves physically. It's about having and finding that balance for the individual.

Taryn Richardson  43:30
Yeah, excellent. So, as we periodise our nutrition approach, we should really periodise our alcohol strategy as well.

Dr Ben Desbrow  43:40
I think Australians traditionally and we're doing a lot of work with young people at the moment as well. You know, we don't have a great alcohol relationship as a nation. And we need to sort of manage that a little bit better, I think. We have still a large number of people in the population who drink to get drunk as young people, I just sort of think, well, that's not an ideal relationship with alcohol. You're entering the zone of regret more so than you need to. Stay in the pleasure zone.

Taryn Richardson  44:04
Love it. So, for the people that like to go to the pub or the bar after their race, what advice would you have for those type of athletes?

Dr Ben Desbrow  44:13
Well, number one, make sure that you've got some food available to you because that will help offset whatever fluid choices you make. One of the things that we're starting to see now is a hell of a lot more options available for people with lower alcohol concentration beverages. So, we've actually got a PhD student here at the moment who's looking at whether the variety and accessibility of low alcohol to no alcohol products beers, wines, can be used as a moderator of acute alcohol consumption, but particularly in younger people.

Dr Ben Desbrow  44:44
A non-alcoholic beer, it looks exactly the same as a normal beer and a glass, so you don't have to feel as though you're not fitting in or you're not engaging with other people. You know, these products are becoming more and more available and to be quite honest, they taste a lot better than they used to as well. So, they're becoming more and more an alternative option. Space your drinks out. Before you go have an understanding of how much you want to drink, how much is in the products that you're likely to drink, maybe work out what's well under 0.5g/kg body weight for you and stick to well under that. If you're at 0.2,3g/kg body weight, you're going to be well away from detectable levels of performance decrement, then it comes back to moderating your behaviour and having that capacity to say, "Well, this is where I'm at, this is what I want to do".

Dr Ben Desbrow  45:32
I always used to think when I was sort of training that, you know, it hurts a lot, you know, you put yourself through an enormous amount of pain, do you really want to undo that by what you do when you're not training? No, you want to maximize the benefit that you get from the training and some of those benefits occur when you're not training. In the behaviours that you employ when you're not training. It's not just about what you do on the roads or in the pool. It's how you manage yourself outside of those training sessions as well that influence how effective that training was and is for you.

Taryn Richardson  46:03
Excellent. So, to summarize that if you want to go to the pub or the bar and get loose with your buddies after a big key race, maybe do a good job of your recovery nutrition components first. How many R's did we get to in the end?

Dr Ben Desbrow  46:15
I think there's about 27 R's. Just keep adding an R. In fact, I'm going to go to the dictionary after this podcast and just go through R and just relate every one of them to recovery in some capacity.

Taryn Richardson  46:28
All right, let me know. But yeah, making sure you put that protein back in your muscles. Refuel with carbohydrate, rehydrate first and revitalize and then you're obviously at the pub relaxing.

Dr Ben Desbrow  46:40
Correct and that relaxation is important. But again, it's about zone of pleasure, not zone of regret.

Taryn Richardson  46:49
Yes, and so calculating, if you feel like it, a lot of triathletes are into calculating numbers and knowing data. Calculate what your number of standard drinks or ethanol is, per body weight and have a bit of a plan of attack.

Dr Ben Desbrow  47:03
Divide your body weight by four. That's not a bad idea. That should tell you how many grams of alcohol and remember one standard drink is 10 grams of alcohol.

Taryn Richardson  47:14
Yes, and that's something that's really important to know and understand is that not every drink equals one standard drink, like a schooner or pot or whatever beer. It doesn't mean it's a standard. It could be 1.4, it could be 2, like my husband is drinking cans of beer at the moment that is 2 standard drinks per can. But he just drinks two cans of IPA, he doesn't have any understanding that he's actually drinking four standard drinks there.

Dr Ben Desbrow  47:38
And one thing I would say is obviously any alcoholic beverage needs to specify the number of standard drinks that are on it as part of the label, and that value is actually accurate. And the reason that we know that it's accurate, is because there's an excise on alcohol and so the government will expect them to demonstrate the percentage alcohol in their product. When there's money involved in the government's very interested in making sure that it's accurate, so I can claim an excise from it. So that you know, 1.4 or 1 or whatever the standard drink label is on your alcoholic product is pretty accurate based on the amount of alcohol within that product.

Taryn Richardson  48:15
Yeah, excellent. So, if you're drinking from a can or a bottle, you can see. If you're going and getting a glass and it's poured from the bar, I guess it depends on what strength of the beer it is whether it's a light or mid or a heavy. You can look that information up so you can calculate yourself. So then, in terms of rehydration with beer then, is there a better beer to choose for rehydration and not damaging ourselves too badly? Like is it better to drink light beers?

Dr Ben Desbrow  48:42
Well, certainly the higher the alcohol content. So, once you go sort of mid strength and above, you're going to start to see the diuretic impact of alcohol. So, in our studies, whenever we've gone sort of more than 3%, an element of fluid retention will be impacted by the alcohol in the beverage. So, you really want to be choosing, you know, low alcohol products, if you want to ensure that the fluid that you're drinking is being well retained and that the impact of the alcohol is minimized.

Dr Ben Desbrow  49:17
There's been a number of studies, you know, we've done a few of them. There are some really early studies have looked at the influence of alcohol on diuresis and they all tend to sort of point in that sort of same direction that once you're at full strength beer, you are going to get an ongoing sort of diuretic effect from alcohol. In my mind, it's sort of you know, 3% and below is the concentration that you want to be in.

Taryn Richardson  49:39
3% of body weight?

Dr Ben Desbrow  49:41
3% alcohol by volume. So, you want the beverage that you consuming to be less than 3% alcohol. It's not necessarily exactly 3%. But I guess what you want to be is on the lower end of that mid-strength down to low alcohol products. Once you get sort of 3.5 and you're up to full strength, you know, 4.5, some of them, they move upwards from that, possibly like the IPAs that your husband's drinking. Then you're in a situation where the alcohol is going to cause you to lose some additional fluid.

Taryn Richardson  50:12
Yeah, so the diuretic effect, increasing the filtration of water through your kidneys. So, you pee more fluid out, and you're not actually retaining it for rehydration.

Dr Ben Desbrow  50:21
Correct. I'm glad you're here, because I just sort of talk and just expect everyone to understand what I'm saying.

Taryn Richardson  50:26
That's the difference between a researcher and a practitioner. So, for a wine drinker, then where, say, red wines around 12%?

Dr Ben Desbrow  50:34
You're going to get a diuretic effect for most wines. The differences are the volume of actual fluid that you consume, is going to be substantially lower because of the concentration. So, you get a volume-based diuresis. So, when you drink an alcoholic beer, then you're getting a large volume, in combination with the alcohol. The volume that you're consuming, you tend to have the capacity to squirt more of that out.

Dr Ben Desbrow  50:59
Whereas in a wine, it depends on what other fluids you're drinking, as to how much of that additional squirt you get. That's the scientific term, we use it in the corridor, here all the time. Squirt, it's in all the medical dictionaries. We know far less about wine in terms of rehydration. I've never seen a study done on that. Again, partially comes back to my first comments really only on the podcast about just adding volume that you can consume.

Dr Ben Desbrow  51:27
So, wine has not been an attractive beverage to look at from rehydration perspective, because you're literally drinking, you know, 100-200mL's of it. And so, from a volume perspective, it's likely to be a poor rehydrater, just because it's just in such small volumes, and then you add the alcohol to it, it's not going to be a great beverage to serve you by way of rehydration potential.

Taryn Richardson  51:48
So just to summarize that, then if somebody wants to go on, go to their party, then maybe trying to choose a lower concentration beer, like a light-up to mid-strength, and then making sure their standard drinks is less than a certain volume compared to their weight. So less than 0.5 grams per kilo, trying to keep it around 0.2-0.3.

Dr Ben Desbrow  52:11
Yep, they're good options and make sure that they're eating at the same time. So, they're getting their nutrients in from food. And, you know, you can start with the nuts, you know, salted nuts, or something that's thrown around at parties and things like that.

Taryn Richardson  52:22
Yeah, hot chips are pretty common. Wedges with sour cream, lots of carbs, not a lot of protein.

Dr Ben Desbrow  52:30
One of the things we don't know, and we'd probably like to know more about is that the minimum amount of food that then influences fluid retention, but most of these things, as I said, contain reasonable amounts of sodium pretty quickly. So, you wouldn't expect you'd need to eat a lot in order to get that fluid retention benefit.

Taryn Richardson  52:45
Yeah, nice. You could add some salt to your liquids, if you wanted to, to your beer, add some extra salt for some fluid retention.

Dr Ben Desbrow  52:53
You're good, but I'd much prefer to eat it.

Taryn Richardson  52:57
Yeah, or hot chips and drink your beer as is.

Dr Ben Desbrow  53:02
We do have a taste element here that we need to factor in Taryn.

Taryn Richardson  53:04
Yes, eating is for pleasure after all. And then maybe for the more concentrated drinkers like the wine drinkers, champagne drinkers,  they're really going to have to drink some water with that to increase their hydration.

Dr Ben Desbrow  53:16
Yes, with other fluids to try and get the volume in. The alcohol intake, the total amount, try and keep that to that 0.2-0.3g/kg body weight then supplement the fluid intake with other non-alcoholic beverages. We've discussed water, you might want to replace some of the carbohydrate and choose a sort of sweetened beverage, but you want the total alcohol intake to be in that sort of 0.2-0.3g/kg body weight range, no more than that ideally.

Taryn Richardson  53:43
And then not be planning anything major from an exercise perspective the next day.

Dr Ben Desbrow  53:47
Even with that relatively light intake, you're probably going to find that you should recover reasonably well. But the best recovery will always be alcohol abstinence.

Taryn Richardson  53:57
Yes. That's a nice point to finish on, I think. Now I have one question for you. It's not related to alcohol. Something I want to ask all my guests is, if you could go for a ride with anyone, doesn't matter if they're dead alive. Anyone? Who would it be?

Dr Ben Desbrow  54:14
Can I tell you about the best ride that I ever went on my favourite ride? I would be more than happy to ride with this person again. I was very fortunate, not long after I left Canberra, I worked for the British Olympic team before Sydney 2000. They had a holding camp on the Gold Coast here where I'm based. The whole British team came to the Gold Coast before heading down to Sydney. They were here for a couple of weeks, just acclimatising and doing all things that British people do when they come to Australia like you know, not walking long grass for fear of snakes or avoiding gum trees with the bears that drop on them.

Dr Ben Desbrow  54:50
So, I was a dietitian that they appointed to work with the team for a couple of months before the Olympics, so I was sort of a part of the British program. It just so happened that one of the guys we went to school together up in Brisbane was competing for Great Britain in the triathlon. So, his name is Andrew Jones and Andrew grew up in Wellington point in Brisbane, well his mum happens to be British, so he was able to compete for Great Britain. At the time, it was the first time the triathlon was in the Olympics was in Sydney 2000. And there was a lot of conjecture as to who was going to be picked for the team. We had a lot of really world class triathletes at the time, and Andrew was up and coming. And he was a very, very good triathlete. He'd won a number of World Cup events, but he wasn't in that sort of top echelon of Australian triathletes.

Dr Ben Desbrow  55:37
So, he opted pretty early to represent Great Britain and so one day when we're in the holding camp, and you know, we organized everything Andrew said to me "do want to go for a ride". He wanted to go on a training ride. As I said, Andrew was one of my mates from school, and he's absolutely fantastic. He's super smart. And he's a real larrikin, and he's one of those infectious people that everyone tends to like. He's a redhead and he's very outgoing. Anyway, I said, "Yeah, of course, I'll go for a ride with you". So, he found a bike for me, a beautiful bike. Olympic bike, road bike. Kitted me out in the Team GB full kit. I didn't have any cycling clothes with me. And then we had a police escort out to the hinterland to the Gold Coast hinterland for those people who, you know, there's some hills at the back of the Gold Coast run along the corridor, there's beautiful rainforest.

Dr Ben Desbrow  56:29
We had a Team GB car behind us. So had two police bikes in the front of us, us two both in full kit, and the Team GB car behind us full of food and drinks. And it was just before Sydney, and the vibe in the country at the time was fantastic. Everyone was very, very positive. And of course, they saw the police car and they saw the car behind us, and the full kit and people are waving and cheering. Here's my with my mate from Wellington point, going for a ride, like I'm absolute muppet and he was a quality athlete, but you couldn't tell us apart.

Dr Ben Desbrow  57:00
We rode for about four hours through the Gold Coast hinterland through Springbrook. Whenever we got tired, we sort of pulled over and just grabbed the drinks from the back of the car. And we chatted, and it was just a magic moment. And I thought, well, this will probably never happen again, you couldn't script it. We had, you know, all of the support that you could possibly imagine someone clearing the road for us. I was just with my mate in the hinterland of the Gold Coast. It was just one of those moments in your life, you sort of wish you could pause, press rewind, a bit like this podcast and just play it again. It was fantastic. And I can't go past that as an option to go back and repeat. To be with one of your friends and that sort of environment and we were just laughing for about four hours, just enjoying the environment and exercising and being able to exercise and that was definitely a highlight.

Taryn Richardson  57:46
What an amazing experience. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Dr. Desbrow. It's been good, good time chatting about alcohol and a few extra things.

Dr Ben Desbrow  57:54
Yeah, and I've enjoyed it. So, thanks for inviting me on Taryn.

Taryn Richardson  57:58
You're welcome. Are there any last final thoughts that you want to say anything we haven't touched on?

Dr Ben Desbrow  58:03
Every day's a school day, it's a school day for me, you know, always learning about food and nutrition and keep an open mind. Enjoy food. Food is one of the great pleasures of life. Don't get too caught up in the marketing and the hype around, you know, eating a certain way. I think we overcomplicate things sometimes; you know, just enjoy food and use that as a vehicle for developing your sort of social networks. I think if you keep that as a primary focus, you're well on your way to eating well, performance as well.

Taryn Richardson  58:33
Yeah, perfect. If you're ever looking for some triathletes for your studies, let me know and I'll be able to hustle some up for you. Thanks so much for joining me, Ben.

Dr Ben Desbrow  58:44
No problem. Thanks Taryn

Taryn Richardson  58:50
Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned. Email me at [email protected]. You could also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media at @dietitian.approved so I can give you a shout out too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smash it in the fourth leg - nutrition!

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