The above video is 3 minutes long.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Our awesome guest today is Dr. Peter Brukner who is currently the team doctor for the Australian cricket team.
His impressive resume includes being team doctor to four Australian national teams – swimming, hockey, athletics and soccer. He has also worked with professional AFL and English Premier League teams such as Liverpool FC, experienced US college sport at Stanford and been part of Olympic, Commonwealth and World Uni Games as well as numerous World Championships.
The Full Interview with Dr Peter Brukner of the Australian Cricket Team
- Peter’s journey from a low-fat to a high-fat diet
- Why many of the Australian cricketers have adopted this style of eating
- How it’s reduced injury risk and improved recovery
- Why starving yourself to drop weight is not the way forward
- When we should be applying a low carb’ strategy to improve health
- Peter’s appearance in the documentary Cereal Killers 2 Movie: Run On Fat
- And much much more…
Get More of Dr Peter Brukner Here:
Dr Peter Brukner Transcript
Guy Lawrence: Hey. This is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our awesome guest today is Dr. Peter Brukner. Now, he’s recently been the head of sports medicine with the Liverpool Football Club, which is pretty awesome, and he’s currently the team doctor for the Australian cricket team.
Now, I first met Peter at the Low Carb Down Under event a few months ago, where I got to share the stage with him, and it was; he’s just a top guy and we’ve been very keen to get him on the podcast since we met and fortunately we were lucky enough to have him on the show today.
So, we cover all sorts of topics from obviously eating low carb and high fat, but how that’s influenced his life. He talks about the Australian cricket team and also the movies coming up. The documentaries of Cereal Killers and Cereal Killers 2, Run On Fat. So, we dig deep into those.
Now, I will say the Skype audio does drop in and out slightly, but sometimes there’s not much we can do about technology. But ultimately the information’s there and you will certainly still get a lot out of it, so, just to give you a heads up on that.
And of course, if you are listening to this through iTunes, a simple just subscribing to our podcast and a little review, leaving a review, does wonders for us because it helps us get the word out there. We really appreciate it and we’re getting a lot of people listening to our podcasts now, so that will just continue to help spread the words. It’s always appreciated.
And of course, you can come over to 180nutrition.com.au and yeah, hang out there as we’ve got a wealth of information, including a great free book. It took me quite a while to write actually and that’s a great place to start if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed with all this information.
But, yeah, of course, go through the other podcasts. We’ve got much more awesome guests and we some very exciting guests lined up for the future. But for now enjoy the podcast with Peter and we’ll see you soon. Cheers!
Guy Lawrence: So, hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie; as always.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Dr. Peter Brukner. Peter welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on.
Peter Brukner: XXunintelligibleXX [:02:11.6] My pleasure guys.
Guy Lawrence: Ah, there it goes. Frozen. Great start to this show. There we go. He’s back. Excellent.
So, just to get the ball rolling, Peter, would you mind just sharing to our listeners and ourselves a little bit about yourself and why we’re super happy to have you on the show today. I’m very much looking forward to this.
Peter Brukner: Well, I don’t know why you’re super happy, but I’m a … 😉
My name is Peter Brukner. I’m a sports and exercise physician. So, I’m a medical doctor who is specialized in sports medicine and I’ve been practicing sports medicine for 30-odd years, and obviously I started when I was a baby, and I’ve been working, both in a medical practice in Melbourne; I’m born and bred in Melbourne; a medical practice in Melbourne at Olympic Park. I set up a sports medical there about 30 years ago and that’s still going strong. And over that period of time I’ve worked with a number of sporting teams; AFL teams, various Olympic sports.
I’ve done, I think, five national teams now. I’ve done swimming, hockey, athletic soccer and cricket. The last few years I did the Socceroos, the Australian soccer team, for the South African World Cup and the three years leading up into that.
From there I went to Liverpool in England to be the head of sports med XX technical glitch[:03:36.3 to :03:40.1] and after a couple of years there I went to the Australian cricket team and I’ve been the Australian cricket team doctor for last two years.
Yeah, obviously we’re in the middle of a busy summer of cricket, which has been pretty emotional and stressful, I have to say, but, anyway, we’re getting there and the guys have been terrific and we’ve had a pretty successful summer so far.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent and the World Cup’s just around the corner.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Yeah, we’re gearing up for that now. The test series is finished and we’ve done colour for the players, on the colour clothing now, and we’ve got Tri-Series against India and England as a sort of warm-up games really and then the real business is the World Cup in February and March. Gives us a few weeks off after that and then we go off to the West Indies and then to England for another extra series. So, it’s a big few months ahead for the Australian cricket team and for their doctor, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Wow! That is a busy season.
You’ll have to forgive Stu a little bit when it comes to cricket, because I think he gets confused between cricket and baseball. That’s how much he knows.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for that, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: That’s all right.
Stuart Cooke: Always good. Always good. I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in Wales or unlucky enough to be born in Wales; one of the two.
I was interested, Peter, in the questioning of diet, as well and how does that come into sports medicine? I always thought nutrition was almost a kind of, another route completely.
Peter Brukner: Well, I mean, we like to sort of adopt a holistic approach really. I mean, I think as sport medicine physicians we’re responsible for the complete health of the athletes and so obviously nutrition is an important factor in that. I mean, I wouldn’t say, you know, all of my colleagues are interested in nutrition, but certainly some of us are and I’ve always had an interest in nutrition.
In fact, I wrote a book, I co-authored a book with Karen Inge, a well-known Melbourne dietitian, about well, the late ’80s, I think, called Food for Sport, it was only the first of a specialist sports nutrition book in Australia.
So, but in a way I sort of; for a long time I sort of lost a bit of interest in sports nutrition really. Because it became a bit; well, I won’t say “dull” but I mean, basically it was just: Eat lots of carbs and drink lots of sugar-based fluids and that was it. And for 30 years that’s basically what we’ve been doing until more recently. We’ve been challenging that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. What made you first question it, Peter? Because when we met at the low carb talk and spoke, you certainly had a change of thinking around that over time.
Peter Brukner: Yep. Yes. Yeah. Well, I think sometimes you’ve got to re-examine your ideas. Someone once said that 50 percent of everything you get taught in your medical course later turns out to be wrong. You’ve just got to work out which 50 percent that is.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy.
Peter Brukner: But, no, I guess I first started to question the whole nutrition thing when Tim Noakes came out, sort to speak; no he didn’t come out in the normal way, came out that he switched from being a carb-dominant advocate to being a XXtechnical glitchXX [:06:56.4] … and adopting a low-fat, high-carb, I meant, sorry, a low-carb, high-fat philosophy. And Tim Noakes, as you obviously know, is a very world-renowned sports scientist, sports clinician from Cape Town and I’ve known Tim for 20 odd years and we’ve spoken at numerous conferences together and so on; and Tim was someone I always admired as having a great mind. And he always challenging, you know, a lot of traditional beliefs and in most cases he’s been proven right.
So, when he sat us down to talk about this, both from his own experiences and from those of his patients, I sort of “Oh, gee, you know, that’s interesting.” I… normally I would totally ignore… I mean, like many people I hated the idea of fad diets and celebrity diets and you know, this actress or singer or sportsman is on a particular diet now and I just XXtechnical glitchXX [:07:51.7 to :08:03.8] … to make me think, “whoa, I need to XXtechnical glitchXX [:08:05.2 to :08:08.1] …
I bought Taubes book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, and read the book and it was the most interesting book, I think, I ever read. I just couldn’t believe what I was reading and it just blew me away and I was sort of XXtechnical glitchXX [:08:21.8 to :08:29.1] …
… interesting thing about that book and talk XXtechnical glitchXX [:08:31.1 to :08:32.8] …
… Taubes book and so on, is that they, the low-fat, high-carb arguments, but they also explain the politics of how the low-fat argument basically won out 30 years ago for reasons that were not particularly based on science, but more on politics and economics and so on and so on. And you start to understand, you know, maybe that’s not right and I finished reading that book and I just sort of couldn’t believe it. I thought, “We couldn’t possibly had this wrong all this time, surely? All these great minds and so on couldn’t have gotten this so wrong.” And I certainly XXtechnical glitchXX [:09:10.8 to :09:15.4] …
So I just decided to try it out myself. So, I decided to go a low-carb diet. So, at that stage I’d just turned 60, which was the age that my father had developed type 2 diabetes, so it was in the back of my mind that I didn’t particularly want to go down that track because he just died earlier this year and I’d seen all the problems that he’d had over 20, 25 years or so. And I was, you know, I was supposedly healthy, I had eaten what I was supposed to eat. I would do low-fat this and low-fat that and didn’t have too much in the way of fatty foods and yet probably over a period of 20 years I’ve put on 10 kilograms, 12 kilograms, about half a kilogram a year just steadily and the kids started to, you know, poke me in the guts and say, “Dad, how about it?”
So, I was a bit overweight, probably not morbidly obese, but I was certainly overweight and XXunintelligibleXX [:10:16.5] and I was about sort of borderline overweight/obese. So, I thought, “Well, what the heck, let’s see, let’s see how it goes.”
So, I started. I did a whole lot of blood tests the day I started just so I could follow my progress and I’m went pretty cold turkey low carb for 12 weeks and XXtechnical glitchXX [:10:36.7 to :10:38.5] …
So, I was basically losing pretty much a kilogram a week, which was very rewarding. I mean, you know, you eat this way and you sort of have your doubts and your concerns and so on and then you look at the scales every week and you lose another kilogram. You think, “Wow!” That’s pretty reinforcing and pretty good. So, that made it it quite easy to do in a way.
And then after 12 weeks everyone started to say, “You’re looking a bit thin in the face and you know, maybe you’ve gone too far.” So, I sort of just backed off a little bit and wasn’t quite as strict with my carbs, and so, now I’ve basically maintained that over the last couple of years. Pretty much, you know, not really having many carbs at all and not totally obsessing about it, but basically not eating …
Guy Lawrence: Keeping away carbs. Yeah.
Peter Brukner: … carbs …
Guy Lawrence: And Peter, how do you feel since like …
Peter Brukner: I feel great. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: You know, I feel really good XXunintelligibleXX [:11:31.7 to :11:34.4] …
… and I’m certainly keeping the weight off. I’ve put on maybe a kilogram or two since then. I kept the same weight and I’ve been feeling really good. I’ve found it enjoyable eating. You know, it’s a sustainable diet. So, I’ve managed to keep eating XXunintelligibleXX [:11:50.8] …
And the other thing that you really notice, is that you’re not nearly as hungry.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: I mean, in the old days I had my cereal for breakfast, you know, like everyone else, I’d get to about 11 o’clock in the morning, you know, and start feeling, “Oh, is it lunchtime yet?” I was starved. But now I don’t even have lunch, you know. Most of the time I just grab a handful of nuts or a bit of cheese or something during the afternoon. But, basically I don’t feel hungry until dinnertime.
So, that’s made a huge difference to my energy levels. I’m much more level during the day. I don’t have the ups and downs that I would have had in the past. So, yeah, I feel very good about it. My bloods have all improved and my triglycerides, which were quite high, have come down enormously. My HDL cholesterol is going up.
So, you know, all the things that I think are important, particularly triglycerides and HDL, have improved significantly. I had a mild case of fatty liver that had been picked up in a blood test some years previously that I hadn’t worried too much about, that all of a sudden that’s disappeared too. They’ve gone back to normal, my liver test as well. So, all aside, I’m pretty positive about it.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Would you say, are you fat-adapted while still eating smaller amounts of carbohydrates, so would you say that you’re operating in ketosis?
Peter Brukner: No, I’m probably not in; I’m probably occasionally ketosis. But, I think I’m one of these people who struggle to get into ketosis, because even when I’ve been pretty strict, my ketones have not, when I’ve measured my ketones, they haven’t been that high. So, I think I’m just fat-adapted; I’m running mainly on fat …
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Peter Brukner: …probably have a little bit of carbohydrates in vegetables and nuts and some dairy. But I don’t get obsessive when I measure the amount of grams of carbohydrates, but I guess I’m somewhere around 50 grams a day of carbohydrate. But everyone has their own sort of ideal level of carbohydrates. I think most young people can probably tolerate significantly larger amounts of that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: I think a lot of us in mid-life should become hormone resistant to a certain degree. We’re the ones who really benefit from reducing the carbs significantly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s fascinating.
Guy Lawrence: And thanks to people like yourself and Professor Tim Noakes, as well, you’re starting to see this being questioned in the sporting fields.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Well see, carbs have been dominant in sport and all athletes have been obsessed with carbs now for a long time and I think that’s being challenged. I mean, I think; firstly let’s look at an endurance athletes and even ultra endurance athletes, I mean, fat is a very good fuel and the problem is that it burns slowly, if you like, XXtechnical glitchXX [:14:51.3 to :14:52.2] …
Stuart Cooke: Yep.
Peter Brukner: … so, it’s almost unlimited resources and the problem with carbs, obviously, is you’re going to XXtechnical glitchXX [:14:57.5 to :15:00.9] …
… I think for endurance athletes who are not; needing to work at a very high intensity, a high fat diet is very, very good, and I think a lot of ultra endurance athletes now have switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet and gained a lot of benefits from it. Especially the sort of ultra marathons; you know all the guys doing these crazy hundred XXtechnical glitchXX [:15:23.5 to :15:25.6] …
… steaks and things like that. But I think; I’m pretty sure that for an ultra endurance and endurance athletes, you know, Ironman, triathlon types, marathoners, that a low-carb, high-fat diet is quite appropriate.
Probably… The feelings is it’s very individual. I mean, there are some people who are absolutely fine on low-carb and high-fat and others who just need to supplement a little bit with carbs.
Stuart Cooke: Yep.
Peter Brukner: But I think by and large; I think most people will, well, not most people, but a lot of people now agree that for endurance, ultra endurance athletes, that it’s XXtechnical glitchXX [:16:04.0 to :15:07.4] …
There’s no doubt about that in my mind. The interesting one is the sort of ultra-intense exercise. Particularly the sort of high-intensity intermittent activities, like in football, basketball, and so on. And that’s very interesting because there are certainly some anecdotal studies and reports that a number of these type of athletes, particularly in basketball in the States and the AFL in Australia, are starting to use the low-carb, high-fat diet, some of them are supplementing. So what a number of teams are doing, individuals are doing, basically going low carb during the week and then come game day they may supplement with some carbs. So, it’s the XXunintelligibleXX [:16:55.5] high philosophy.
But again, that’s very individual. There are other people who don’t seem to need carbs who can still do this high-intensity intermittent activity at full bore, without any carbs at all. So, it’s a little matter of experimenting a bit.
But there’s something happening, especially in the AFL, which I’m quite familiar with, and I know a couple of clubs that are playing around with this. Melbourne is being quite open about the fact that their players have all gone low-carb in the pre-season and seem to be doing well. So, it will be interesting to see they go. They’re a pretty terrible team, so they can only improve. So, whether they XXtechnical glitchXX [:17:31.6 to :17:33.4] or not, I don’t know.
So, I think the jury is still out and as I said, I suspect it’s an individual thing. But I think there are benefits to be gained from training on a low-carb, but I think you need some carbs for the high-intensity actual sporting activities.
Stuart Cooke: What are your thoughts on, the performance aside, the recovery aspect of adopting high fat over high carb?
Peter Brukner: Well, I mean, you know we’ve always had this philosophy that you’ve got to replenish your carbohydrates reserves after exercise, but it’s relevant if you deplete them or if you’re using mainly carbs as your fuel, if you’re using mainly fats that’s obviously not as important,
I still think the protein aspect is the key to recovery. You know you obviously have a lot of muscle XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:20.5 to :18:21.7] …
… for your exercise XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:21.1 to :18:24.2] …
…muscle and I think adequate protein XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:25.8 to :18:27.2] …
… you know, certainly there’s plenty of protein XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:29.2 to :18:30.1] …
… and high fats and a bit of high quality fats and XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:33.0 to :18:35.1] …
… thinking in recovery.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, because I know we; you know you mentioned a couple of times, it’s been helping a few of the Aussie cricketers as well, hasn’t it?
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Well, essentially, I haven’t sort of pushed it at all, but I guess my first two tours with the cricket team coincided; it was in the middle, between those two tours, when I lost all the weight. So, I turned up in India a couple of years ago and I had one say, “Oh, doc. What’s happened to you? You’re half the man you used to be.” So, they took an interest in that. A number of them sort of just took me aside and said, “Look, tell me about it and I’d like to try it please.”
The interesting thing is despite these guys being full-time athletes and high levels of exercise, a number of them used to struggle with their weight; which was really against this whole theme of calories in/calories out. I mean, they’re working, training every day, playing five-day test?[:19:28.1] matches, etc. and still having problems with their weight.
So, a number of them were keen to try and lose some weight, so they decided to adopt the diet and then people like Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson and Steve Smith and Dave Warner and a couple of the others have all taken on board the diet and all had immediate, sort of good responses to it. They lost some weight; obviously they didn’t have huge amounts of weight to lose, but they all lost between 3 and 5 kilograms fairly quickly and felt very good about it and again, they all vary in the amounts of carbs, from very little to small amount of carbs, particularly on XXtechnical glitchXX [:20:12.0 to :20:16.1] …
… low carb, high fat and they all seem to be XXtechnical glitchXX [:20:21.8 to :20:23.7] …
Shane Watson is a classic example. He’s always had trouble with his weight and I can say it’s the best thing that’s happened to him and the only way he used to be able to drop weight was to starve himself and he could only do it in the off season, because when you’re playing you can’t do that. So, he would sort of be miserable when he was not playing, because he just wouldn’t allow himself to eat and Shane loves his food. So, this has enabled him to still eat and enjoy his food and drop his weight and certainly, you know, at the moment he’s doing pretty well. So, it’s encouraging.
Davey Warner’s the same. He arrived and met with me a couple of years ago, quite overweight. He’d been injured and hadn’t been doing as much as usual and had put on quite a bit of weight and he managed to trim down a number of kilograms. We measure their skin folds regularly with the cricketers and his skin folds have dropped about 30 points in that time, which is a remarkable achievement.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: And now you see with all those guys having very successful a couple of years now, I’m not sort of saying that’s the only reason, there’s a lot of factors, but I think it has helped them.
Guy Lawrence: With the way you’ve witnessed as well, like a question that just popped in there in terms of inflammation and injury, have you noticed anything, any relationship between increasing the fat and reduction of inflammation?
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Look. I think there’s a fair amount of that evidence now that there are pro inflammatory agents in your carbs and in particular sugars are one of those agents. We certainly had one player who had a very dramatic response to change. He was on quite a high level of medication for an inflammatory-based joint problem and he was on medication that was costing him about $15,000 a year and just controlling his symptoms and he switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet, a pretty strict diet, and within a week he was able to get off all his medication that he’d been on for some time and he’s not had a problem since and he’s been able to double the amount of training he’s done and I saw him the other day and he’s not XXtechnical glitchXX [:22:34.1 to :22:36.2] …
… I saw him the other day and he said, “Yeah doctor, I’m still on the diet. It’s fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Wow!
Peter Brukner: XXtechnical glitchXX [:22:42.5 to :22:45.9] …
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome.
Peter Brukner: XXtechnical glitchXX [:22:46.4 to :22:48.5] …
… inflammatory arthritis can be cured by that, but I think you know there are certainly some areas around that it reduces people that have excessive inflammation in some sort of form. So, you know, he’s a big guy, we could have obviously have done the whole diet thing.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That’s fantastic and I guess it certainly doesn’t hurt to try this either, does it? Just to see how you how you get on for a couple of weeks.
Peter Brukner: Well, that’s what I suggest to people who come and say, “I’ve got terrible arthritis or some sort of inflammatory disease.” That you give it a go and it’s not going to help everyone, but if you can get off some of the drugs that you require and you get symptom relief with a simple change of diet, then that’s a fantastic result.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Excellent. So, from a medical perspective now, your thoughts on sport drinks, given what you know about carbs and everything we’ve spoken about this morning.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Look, I think sports drinks have been incredibly well-marketed over the years and they’re basically just sugar and water, and with a few electrolytes put in. I think; I don’t think that sugar’s a good thing and I think we’ve got now a whole generation of kids who think that sport drinks are healthy and all they’re doing is putting sugar in. You know, I think that this generation is eating and drinking far too much sugar and I think really the best sports drink is water and that’s maybe with some electrolytes if you need them. But by and large, 95 percent of the time water is what you require to rehydrate you and you don’t need any extra sugars.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It doesn’t sell too well though, does it?
Peter Brukner: No, it doesn’t.
Stuart Cooke: It actually does Guy, if you look at the price of bottle water …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So true.
Peter Brukner: That’s another of my pet annoyances. What’s wrong with tap water?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Maybe if you XXunintelligibleXX [24:52.9] it would be different. But everywhere else has got pretty good tap water I think. So yeah, I’m a tap water fan.
Guy Lawrence: Fair enough. Fair enough. The next topic we wanted to cover was the Cereal Killer movies and …
Peter Brukner: Ah yes.
Guy Lawrence: … the documentaries which, you know, you’ve appeared in both Cereal Killers, too. We’re not talking about, as in murders; we’re actually talking about breakfast cereals.
Peter Brukner: Yeah, that’s right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Tell us; how did you get involved?
Peter Brukner: It’s alleged that’s my movie career, but you never know.
Look, it was bizarre really, because I heard about the movie from Kickstarter, which is sort of a web-based funding for small projects such as movies, and I just liked the sound of what Donal O’Neill, that crazy Irishman, was doing. He was basically making a movie about cereal killers, as you said.
So, I contacted him and offered my support and a small donation and then I said, “Good luck with it all.” I said, “If, you know, some of our cricketers are one it and are very supportive and if we can help in any way, you know, let us know.” So, he contacted me and said, “Do you think some of the cricketers would be happy to sort of say a few words to promote the movie?” And I said, “Well, I can ask them.” They were only too happy to do it.
So, Donal came over. We were in London at the time, it was during the last Ashes and he came over and interviewed a few of us; myself and three of the players, and he rang me the next day and said, “Oh, that was so good. We’re going to put it in the movie.” I said, “Why? I thought you had finished the movie?” He said, “Ah, well we decided to reopen the movie for that.” So, they just added a bit to the end of the first movie with a few of the players and myself and so on.
So, that was a bit of a laugh and quite nice. But it’s a, I thought it was a great movie. I mean, he’s a remarkable man, Donal, and he’d never made a movie in his life and all of a sudden has put together a very professional, you know, one-hour sort of movie-cum-documentary. It was entertaining. He’s a funny guy, but a passionate guy with a message to get across.
So, that’s been enjoyable. I’ve been fortunate enough to sort of attend various premieres of the movie around. We had one in Melbourne and then we had one in Cape Town that Tim Noakes was there and Donal was at as well; we had one in London.
So, it was great and it’s been very well-received. It’s not been out in the movie theaters, but it’s available online and I see people have found it; both entertaining and informative.
So, Donal’s just done another one, Cereal Killers 2. Not a very imaginative title, but it covers a lot; a number of things and both Tim and I are in it again.
The main story is about a guy called Sami Inkinen, who is a legendary figure in sort of an Ironman circles, former world champion; bit of a crazy guy. He decided that; he had become passionate about low-carb, high-fat, and he decided one of the best ways to test it out was to do a bit of rowing. And most of us go for a row on the river and we decide to row a kilometer down the river and back. He decided to; he and his wife decided to row a boat from San Francisco to Hawaii. So, which is not exactly your lazy afternoon row. And so, they both did that on a completely low-carb, high-fat diet and broke the previous record by a number of days and got there and yeah, he went.
So, I won’t tell the whole story, but Cereal Killers 2 is a lot about Sami’s story, he was assisted by Steve Phinney who is one of the sort of legends of research in the low-carb area and he was his advisor for the trip. Steve was out in Sydney recently and I caught up with him.
But it’s a great story and Donal’s a great storyteller. I haven’t seen the whole movie. I’ve only seen, probably like yourselves, the highlights. I think it comes out next month and I’m looking forward to seeing it. But again, it’s that combination of entertainment, but it’s a pretty interesting message, as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: So, he’s a remarkable guy, Donal, very talented.
Stuart Cooke: It’s certainly a great mixture there and I’m intrigued as to whether it will ruffle a few feathers in the sporting world. Because Sami, specifically with his tri-athlete and Ironman heritage, it really does throw open the world of or move in the world of gels and sports drinks and goos and high carbs. So, I’m wondering how that will be received for that particular little circle of sports. What do you think? Do you reckon it will stir; cause a stir?
Peter Brukner: Oh, absolutely. It’s already and it has been for the last 12 months or so and I know that people have been passionate defenders of it. I mean, one of the very prominent sports dietician has said publicly that I should be in jail and Tim Noakes should be struck off and all of that sort stuff …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: … so people get very XXtechnical glitchXX [:30:02.4 to :30:04.6] …
Because there’s a lot of people that have got an awful invested in high-carb industry. Both from what they’ve been telling their clients and their patients, to the money they’re making from products and so on. So look, I think it’s, it is such a radical change and I can understand why people are reluctant to embrace it and are very resistant toward it. But overall all I would hope is that people have an open mind; they look at the scientific evidence and they talk to people who have experienced it and you know …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: XXtechnical glitchXX [:30:35.7 to :30:39.3] …
… high fat diet, whether it be for weight loss, for health reasons or for performance reasons have, hope, basically stuck to it, which is very unusual for a diet. Most diets people will do, I mean you can lose weight certainly on any diet really, but XXunintelligibleXX [:30:54.1] this is a highly sustainable, because you enjoy the food and you’re not as hungry and you have all sorts of other health benefits, like the triglycerides and the various XXunintelligibleXX [:31:08]. and so and so.
So, I think, certainly it’s people feel challenged and we need to have good healthy debate. We need better research and we need independent researchers, because so much of the research is done by the drug companies or by the food industry or the drinks industry that obviously have a vested interest it. So, we need some independent research to; you know, I personally, I think there’s enough research out there now, but I still think we need some more convincing evidence that this is the way to go.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fair enough. What if; if an endurance athlete stopped you on the street tomorrow that was a carb loader and you had two minutes, what would your advice be to him if he was looking into this? Just go cold turkey? Do it out of season? Or?
Peter Brukner: Yeah, I’d say, “I wouldn’t be doing it, you know, the week before my major competition and like that.” But I’d certainly say, “Look, I think, you know, you might well benefit from it. I don’t think, but it’s going to take probably a month. You need to, you know, it takes you somewhere between two and four weeks for the average person to become fat-adapted, so don’t worry if you do go, you know, ‘cold turkey,’ so to speak and turkey’s good on this diet; but do decide to go, you know, hard on the low-carb, high-fat diet, you know. Don’t worry if you don’t feel great for a couple of weeks, because there’s certainly some people who feel a bit, you know, ‘washed out’ as they adapt from a carbohydrates source of fuel to a fat source. Give it a month and see how your training is coming. How you feel yourself and how you cope with the diet.”
And nine times out of 10 I think people will find that they have positive response to the diet and they’ll continue on it.
And then as far as competition goes, like I said earlier on, it’s a matter of the individual finding out what’s right for you. Whether you do need to top up on some carbs on race day. Or whether you can manage perfectly well without, and that’s up to the individual.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Good advice. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, what do you think the future holds for the medical industry where nutrition is concerned? Because there is still a huge amount of advice that tells us that we should eat lots of carbohydrates.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Yeah. Look, I think it’s going to gradually turn. I think I said on Cereal Killers that it would take 10 years, but I think we’re now XXunintelligibleXX [:33:23.5] down the track and I think we’re actually made more miles than I would have expected. I think it’s going to be a gradual process. As I said, there’s a lot of people, I mean, if you’ve been told something for 30 years, I mean, and then you’ve been telling people something for 30 years, it requires a lot of sort of well, courage really or humility in a way to actually admit that, well, maybe we haven’t been entirely correct on this.
So, I, with my medical colleagues are always; they think I’m totally lost and I’ve gone loopy and going over to the dark side and so, hey, they’re probably right; but I buy them a copy of Nina Teichnolz’s book; I’m very happy it’s just come out in paperback, I’m getting it cheaper now, Big Fat Surprise, and I say to my medical colleagues, “Well, look, you know, okay would you read a book?” And some yeah, “Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I’ll read a book.” And I give them that book, and so far 100 percent of them have been converted after reading that book.
So, look, I think it’s going to take time because obviously there’s enormous money invested in the sugar industry and the processed food industry and the pharmaceutical industry and statins and so on.
So, you know there’s going to be a lot of resistance from industry and a lot of resistance from the medical profession as well, because, again, it’s hard to sort of change in midstream. But look, I’m convinced it’s the way to go and, again, I want to make the point that low-carb is not necessary for everyone. I mean, most young people metabolize carbohydrates perfectly well. I think it would help them to reduce them and reduce their sort of sugar intake, but they’re probably fine with a reasonable amount of carbohydrates.
It’s really the sort of the middle aged, pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome, overweight, you know, just likely to develop… I mean, the rate of obesity and type 2 diabetes in our society. It’s just skyrocketing.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: And if you look at the graph, it’s more or less a straight line increase which started exactly 30 years ago, which is exactly when we told everyone to go less fat and all the dieters replaced that with more carbohydrates and it’s been a disaster.
I think people will look back in 50 years and say, “What on earth were they thinking?” And you know the damage that policy has done over 30 years is remarkable and we need to turn that around and we need to turn it around quickly. Because the diabetes epidemic in this world is costing Western societies enormous amounts of each and you know we’re always looking for fancier drugs and fancier medical equipment and so on. There is a one of the big solutions is just in diet and we better get that message across.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And I do think the industry; the word is definitely getting out there again, aren’t they? We see more and more people, even dropping us emails, asking questions and people at least talking about it, whether they agree with or not, it’s definitely on the radar now, where it never used to be, I don’t think.
Peter Brukner: I think a lot of people take notice and, like, Tim Noakes and so on are doing a fantastic job. He’s much vilified in South Africa, but he’s very XXunintelligibleXX [:36:56.6 to :37:02.1].
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Has your family adopted this way of eating, Peter? Or is it just you?
Peter Brukner: Um, there’s mixed; I’ve got four kids; a wife and 4 kids. Wife’s been very supportive and we eat pretty much the same foods and one of the boys is a tri-athlete, sort of, just about a diet half on and building up and he’s pretty much adopted it as well. A couple of the others, their XXtechnical glitchXX [:37:33.7 to :37:36.3] she’s struggling with that, but they all think their dad’s crazy, but you know, I think XXunintelligibleXX [:37:40.4 to :37:41.8] doesn’t really make much difference.
Stuart Cooke: So, just for our listeners, Peter, and we always ask this question as well; can you just give us a brief outline of what you ate yesterday?
Peter Brukner: Well, my typical day is XXunintelligibleXX:37:55.2] good, because I’m on the road a lot with the cricket team, so I tend to try have a big breakfast. So, I’ll have for breakfast, I’ll have a combination of some full-fat Greek yogurt. I make up my own mix of some seeds …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: Some almonds and macadamias and walnuts and pumpkin seeds and chia seeds and so on. I carry that around with me in a little box with me wherever I go. Take that down to breakfast with me when I’m on the road. So, I mix that all together with the berries in the yogurt and make it my own sort of breakfast cereal, if you want to call it that. And then I’ll have some eggs and some bacon or smoked salmon or avocado or something with the eggs. So, XXtechnical glitchXX [:38:39.8 to :38.43.1] …
Then as I sit down, really, to eat during the day, I don’t each lunch. If I get a bit peckish mid-afternoon I might have a handful of nuts or a bit of cheese and then for dinner I’ll have, you know, the old meat and three veg or fish and three veg. So, I’ll have some meat or fish and leave the fat on, not the way I used to sort of trim all the fat off the meat, and then lots of green veggies, broccoli and beans and you know, all that sort of; cauliflower and so on. I don’t usually have dessert. If I do, I’ll have berries and cream …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: I drink a bit of coffee during the day with full-fat milk and then that’s pretty much it. If I need to drink, I’ll drink water, but mainly coffee and water and that’s pretty much it. Yeah, I enjoy; I enjoy every meal I have and, you know, everyone goes off at lunchtime and they go have lunch and I just sit around and do all the things, and I don’t feel at all hungry …
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Perfect.
Peter Brukner: It’s very different to how I used to feel. I’d always been the first running out for lunch otherwise and so, it’s very different. Like I said, I’ve been able to maintain that regime and my bloods are all good and triglycerides are good. So, yeah, I’m pretty happy with the way things are.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Perfect. It sounds like the proof is in the pudding, or not.
Peter Brukner: It must have been in my pudding anyway, that’s for sure.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: It’s such a good feeling though. Like I’ve adopted the high-fat diet now for five or six years. You know, generally I still have a little bit of carbs, but not much and the biggest thing that’s changed my life is the fact that my energy levels are steady every day and it’s just made a massive difference. I just, on a low note, definitely recommend at least trying it.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. I certainly, obviously, you know, a lot of people ask me about it and I’ve started a lot of my friends and colleagues on it and really it; particularly the middle age and overweight guys. I have a lot of guys and every single one of them has lost a significant about of weight. Males better than females and more consistent result in men than women. Women’s results are a little bit less consistent, but certainly in males who need to lose some weight. I mean, it just falls off you. It’s a very satisfying diet to be on when you get the rewards you get.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely. We’ve got one more question for you, Peter, before we wrap up and it’s another one we ask everyone. And it’s, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Peter Brukner: East real food.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: I like it. That works.
Guy Lawrence: It works very well.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, we do. We use that phrase quite often.
Peter Brukner: I think that’s the best advise. You can talk carbs and fat and so on, but I …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: … when you get down to it if you just eat real food rather than processed food, I mean, you’re going to be right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: You’re going to be a lot healthier.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Spot on. And that; for anyone listening to this, Peter, if; where can they get more of you?
Peter Brukner: More of me? XXunintelligibleXX [41:56.0] I’ve got a website and I’ve got a little sort of brochure on that website, “All You Need to Know About Low Carb/High Fat.” So, it’s just PeterBrukner.com. The Brukner is “brukner,” Everyone wants to put a “C” in there , but it’s just PeterBrukner.com and there you go.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, we’ll send out the link for that. We always do and so they can check it out.
And what does the future hold? Anything? Obviously the World Cup; that’s very exciting.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Look, cricket is sort of my full-time job I guess, so we’re going to be ahead with the World Cup and the Ashes and then; but I write a text book of sports medicine, so we’re revising that, we’re at our fifth edition at the moment, so that keeps me; keeps me busy. I’ve got my practices in Melbourne. I’ve got really passionate about the whole nutrition aspects, so I’m doing everything that I can to promote that and I try to see the family as well. So, that’s about it for me.
Guy Lawrence: That was awesome. Well, thanks so much for coming onto the show, Peter. We really appreciate your time.
Peter Brukner: My pleasure.
Stuart Cooke: Yes. Thank you so much and enjoy the rest of the day.
Peter Brukner: Thanks a lot guys.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. Thanks Peter. Cheers, mate.
Peter Brukner: All right. See you guys.