If you followed Super Bowl 2019 and the New England Patriot’s victory, you wouldn’t be surprised that the media started to obsess over all things Tom Brady. His diet was no exception and was covered by dozens of major media outlets and bloggers challenging themselves to eat like him for a week. I guess the hype isn’t really surprising considering Brady is a top NFL athlete participating in his 9th Superbowl (the life span of the average NFL player is around three years). So, anything he says that’s related to diet or fitness will be eaten up by the media and his fans.
So, what’s all the hype about his diet?
Tom Brady revealed his diet in his book, The TB12 Method: It’s a diet that is abundant in antioxidant rich fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich foods. The antioxidant rich diet aims to relieve inflammation as much as possible.
The TB12 method is also known to be very challenging and its health benefits are questioned by some nutritionists because it excludes certain food groups. In a nutshell, it is an anti-inflammatory, plant-based Mediterranean inspired diet with lots of alkaline rich foods. Here is a closer look at it.
Although the high fruit and vegetable content of Brady’s diet is undoubtedly healthy, some people have questioned if it’s really necessary to cut out certain foods and that you can reap the same benefits without cutting them out. It seems that most of the restrictions aren’t really based on scientific evidence, based on anecdotal advice or based on Tom’s personal experiences.
Following the TB12 method means you will forego:
- Bread, pasta or anything with gluten
- Cooking oils, so nothing is fried
- ‘Nightshades’ like Peppers, Eggplant, tomatoes
- White potatoes and white rice
- Grain-fed meat
You also have to minimize your intake of ‘acidic’ foods like Pineapple, strawberries, oranges, chickpeas, walnuts, yoghurt and iodized salt.
It also has other bizarre restrictions like not eating fruits with other foods, no eating protein with carbs, no drinking water with meals and no eating less than 3 hours before bed. The diet is so restrictive and challenging that it’s probably easier to list the foods you aren’t allowed than the foods that you are allowed.
Brady also claims to drink up to 25 glasses of water a day (just not with a meal!). His diet on a typical day looks something like:
- Start the day with 20 ounces of water
- Breakfast is a smoothie made from bananas, berries, nuts
- A typical lunch is fish with vegetables
- Dinner is again, lots of vegetables
- Snacks are mostly fruit or protein shakes
- No dessert
So, is it really worth following TB12? The goal of TB12 is to maximize intake of alkali rich foods and avoid acidic foods as much as possible. It aims to help balance your blood’s pH which is largely based on the minerals in the foods you consume. Some research studies have shown that alkali rich diets are linked to reduced risk of hypertension, diabetes and arthritis. However, the results would probably not be significantly worse if you just stuck to a plant-based diet without cutting off all those food groups.