Tom Brady: The strict diet and exercise plan followed by Super Bowl quarterback

Football player’s unique diet involves avoiding ‘nightshades’ 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Sunday 07 February 2021 12:50
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Related video: Tom Brady's future

Tom Brady will have his 10th Super Bowl appearance - more than any other NFL player - and possibly his seventh Super Bowl win, when he walks onto the field on Sunday to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

The accomplishment also comes as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, 43, is set to officially become the oldest NFL player to play in a Super Bowl with Sunday’s game.

Apart from sheer talent, Brady has been open about the dedicated diet and fitness plan that has allowed him to continue to cement his title as the greatest football player of all time, despite being the oldest player in the league.

This is what Brady eats in a day - and what foods he avoids.

The athlete first revealed details of his diet in his 2017 book, The TB12 Method, where he explained that the regimen he follows “is a mix of Eastern and Western philosophies”.

“Some of these principles have been around for thousands of years. My nutritional regimen may seem restrictive to some people, but to me it feels unnatural to eat any other way,” he wrote.

For Brady, this means following a mostly plant-based diet, with lean meat or wild-caught fish making up a small amount, roughly 20 per cent, of his diet.

The 43-year-old also focuses on eating “alkalising” foods that are meant to decrease inflammation in the body, and consuming a large amount of water, which his diet describes as “one-half of your body weight in ounces of water daily”.

Brady typically starts his day by drinking “20 ounces of water with electrolytes,” which he then follows with a “high-calorie, high-fat, high-protein smoothie,” made of ingredients such as bananas, blueberries, nuts, and seeds, according to the TB12 website.

He follows with a breakfast of eggs and avocado.

After his workout, and multiple times throughout the day, Brady supplements his diet with a protein shake made of vegan protein, with his lunch consisting of 80 per cent vegetables.

The football player then snacks on nuts and seeds, as well as hummus or guacamole, before having a dinner that follows the same 80/20 rule.

According to the TB12 website, Brady often concludes his daily eating with a “steaming cup of bone broth”.

As for what he avoids, his personal chef previously revealed in an interview with Boston.com that there are numerous foods and food groups that Brady steers clear from, including white sugar and MSG.

“No white sugar. No white flour. No MSG. I'll use raw olive oil, but I never cook with olive oil. I only cook with coconut oil. Fats like canola oil turn into trans fats. ... I use Himalayan pink salt as the sodium. I never use iodised salt,” Allen Campbell said at the time, adding that the football player also avoids “nightshades, because they're not anti-inflammatory,” which also includes tomatoes and eggplant, nor does he consume caffeine, fungus or dairy.

According to Brady, avoiding foods that cause inflammation is especially important because inflammation is already an unavoidable part of being an athlete.

“Some younger players don’t give too much thought to nutrition. They think they can eat anything they want, and their bodies will burn off the damage. The problem is that by eating inflammatory foods, they’re eating things that create inflammation on top of the weight lifting they’ve done on top of the football game they just played on Sunday,” he explained. “That’s an inflammation response times three. As I said, if I know my body will experience inflammation every Sunday during the season, the last thing I want to do is stack on more inflammation on top of it - not if I want to feel great every time I take the field.”

Brady also avoids eating anything three hours before going to bed each night, as research suggests that eating late at night may increase body fat.

“It really doesn’t matter how much exercise you do if you’re not eating the right food and providing your body the right nutrients,” he wrote in the book.

However, the strict diet doesn’t mean that the quarterback avoids cheat days or cheat meals, as he told Men’s Health that he doesn’t mind treating himself when a craving arises.

"If I’m craving bacon, I have a piece. Same with pizza. You should never restrict what you really want. We’re humans, here for one life," he told the outlet. “What’s changed as I’ve gotten older is now if I want pizza, I want the best pizza. I don’t eat a slice that tastes like sh*t and then wonder: ‘'Why am I eating sh*t pizza?'"

While Brady explains that diet is the most important part of his health regimen, he also relies heavily on a fitness routine crafted by his personal trainer and friend Alex Guerrero.

This is what Brady’s workouts consist of.

According to Brady, his workouts typically begin with a brief deep-tissue massage, followed by exercises involving resistance bands, which may minimise inflammation, and “various movement drills including squats, lunges, and planks,” according to Men’s Health.

During the season, Brady relies on a nine-exercise workout, as explained by the TB12 method, however, much of his focus is on “pliability”.

“Among strength, conditioning, and pliability, at my age I spend roughly one-half of my time on pliability sessions,” he explained. “Many athletes spend no time on pliability - and a few might spend only a few minutes.”

While Brady praises the alleged “pliability” of his muscles, experts previously told Vox that “soft muscles” are not actually something to strive for, with Stuart Phillips, a professor in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, explaining: “The last thing an athlete wants is a soft muscle,” because muscles “only go soft when they’re underused”.

As for the workouts he relies on, Brady’s exercise routine consists of everything from practise throws of a football to “banded core rotations,” which are useful for the football player because “as a quarterback what he’s looking to do is to generate enough ground force to turn into torque to get more velocity on his throw,” Guerrero explained.

Although Brady credits his unique diet and fitness plan with his success, experts aren’t necessarily convinced that it's the various rules and strict guidelines followed by the athlete that make him great at what he does, rather it may just come down to his dedication to following a health plan in the first place.

“The one thing that works is consistency and adherence,” Mayo Clinic exercise researcher Michael Joyner previously told Vox.

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