- Tom Brady’s diet includes lots of vegetables, whole grains, and seafood, and excludes a long list of foods and food groups like dairy, potatoes, peppers, cooking oil, certain fruits, saturated fat, and gluten.
- Most of the rules and restrictions are unfounded, scientifically disproven, or based entirely on Brady’s feelings, experiences, and suggestions from others.
- You can enjoy all the same health and wellness perks as Brady without subjecting yourself to trial by fad dieting by following a plant-dominant, high-protein diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Tom Brady’s diet has become something of an obsession for many Americans.
Since the publication of his 2017 health and wellness book, The TB12 Method, “Touchdown Tom’s” eating habits have gone mainstream in a major way.
Every major media outlet has weighed in multiple times and you can even find “I tried Tom Brady’s diet and here’s what happened” videos online.
And unlike many fly-by-night celebrity diets, Brady’s has earned staying power.
Moreover, Brady isn’t just a Hollywood hunk who got jacked for a superhero movie. Brady’s a world-class athlete who appears to be invincible by normal NFL standards, which many players joke stands for “Not for Long.”
Due largely to the brutal nature of the game, the average NFL player lasts just 3.3 years, and many careers are cut short by torn ligaments, broken bones, severe concussions, and the like.
Not Brady, though.
He’s wrapping up his 19th year in the league with his 9th Super Bowl, and aside from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2008, he hasn’t suffered a major injury in his career.
How has he managed to stay so healthy?
Well, Brady says his unique diet has contributed to his robust health in a major way and enabled his body to endure and recover from levels of stress and punishment that would break the average person.
Hence its popularity.
So, what does the Tom Brady diet look like? Well, it mostly consists of plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and a moderate amount of lean meats like salmon, turkey, and chicken.
In other words, it sounds like your average “healthy diet” that many obesity and nutrition scientists have been advocating for the last several decades.
It doesn’t stop with “eat a bunch of nutritious things,” however, which is where the controversy begins. Brady’s version of “clean eating” requires more or less only eating nutritious things and prescribes a menagerie of restrictions, including . . .
- No gluten, bread, pasta, or white flour of any kind
- No coffee or caffeine
- No cooking oil
- No potatoes, peppers, or mushrooms
- No drinking water during or around meals
- No eating within 3 hours of bedtime
- No eating fruits with other foods
In fact, once you’ve wound through all the twists and turns of Brady’s diet, as we’ll do in this article, you can’t help but wonder if there was any real method to the apparent madness.
I mean, if you were to tear random pages out of the bestselling diet books of the last 20 years and follow whatever you found, you’d likely end up with something similar.
Not only that, but thanks to the aggressive commercializing of the TB12 brand, the regimen also includes a number of Brady’s proprietary supplements and other products.
All that doesn’t necessarily mean the Tom Brady diet deserves the scrapheap instead of the spotlight, though.
As you’ll learn, Brady’s fastidious eating gets more right than wrong and is far superior to the average Western diet, but it’s not without major flaws and fallacies.
Table of Contents
Want to listen to more stuff like this? Check out my podcast!
After Genghis Khan conquered a new land, he would temporarily worship their gods and perform their religious rituals.
This way, Khan figured, he could be in good standing with whatever deities may ultimately be waiting for him in the hereafter. Theological insurance, you could say.
Tom Brady seems to be doing the same thing with diets.
To concoct his style of eating, he has combined one part anti-inflammatory diet, one part alkaline diet, one part Mediterranean diet, and one part food-combining diet, and then seasoned the dish with a hefty dollop of rules and restrictions.
In fact, it’s easier to define Tom Brady’s diet by what you aren’t allowed to eat and drink instead of what you are. To wit, you shouldn’t have any . . .
- White flour
- Cooking oil (even if it isn’t cooked, except olive oil)
- Breakfast cereal
- White potatoes
- White rice
- GMO foods
- Non-organic foods
- Non-seasonal fruits or vegetables
- Grain-fed meat
- Farmed seafood
- Processed foods
And we’re not done. You’re also supposed to avoid or eat as little as possible of the following foods . . .
- Added salt
- Iodized salt
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
But wait, there’s more! You should also . . .
- Never eat protein with carbs like bread, potatoes, or rice
- Never drink water with a meal or more than an hour before or after a meal
- Never eat fruit with other foods
- Never eat within three hours of going to bed
What do you get to eat and drink? The list is short:
- Organic, non-GMO, seasonal fruits and vegetables that aren’t prohibited
- Wild-caught seafood
- Organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free, grass-fed meat
- One half to one and a half gallons of water per day
- Tea and bone broth (for “dessert”)
- Tomato sauce and salsa (yes, these are fine but tomatoes are not)
- TB12 whey protein powder (even though it’s a dairy product)
- TB12 vegan protein bars
- TB12 electrolyte mix
- TB12 nut mixes
- TB12 granola
- Anything else with TB12 stamped on it
Why the seemingly arbitrary restrictions, like no strawberries, chickpeas, or mushrooms, you’re wondering?
Brady says it’s because he wants to avoid “acidic” and “inflammatory” foods as much as possible, and even foods that are normally considered healthy can fall into these two categories.
For example, despite being generally recognized as “healthy,” strawberries, oranges, and kiwis are apparently “acidifying” and thus should be shunned. The same goes for tomatoes, potatoes, dairy, and mushrooms, which are deemed “inflammatory” and therefore off limits.
Accordingly, most of the Brady-approved foods are “alkalizing” and “anti-inflammatory,” which are mostly meaningless buzzwords used to make nutritious foods sound more special than they really are.
And why do all of this, you’re now wondering? Because if you don’t, Brady says, you’ll invite all manner of disease and dysfunction into your life.
Brady’s a generous god, however, and understands that most of us mere mortals lack the discipline to deny our carnal urges and subscribe fully to his recipe for physical purity.
That’s why we only need to mostly follow it most of the time. “It’s always about balance,” he says.
So, to summarize:
Tom Brady’s diet is his take on a number of different highly restrictive fad diets that revolve around a few themes, which are as close as it comes to guiding principles.
I’ll call these precepts the “Tom Brady Diet Rules,” and they are:
- Eat Mostly Anti-Inflammatory Foods
- Eat Mostly Alkaline Foods
- Never Combine These Food Groups . . .
- Drink 12 to 25 Glasses of Water Per Day (with TB12 electrolytes)
- Eat as Little Saturated Fat and Cooking Oil as Possible
Let’s review each in turn.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines inflammation as “ . . . a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”
In other words, it’s a process the body uses to defend against and recover from illness and injury.
Inflammation is also a complex, poorly understood phenomenon that’s involved in many illnesses, adaptations, and functions in the body. It can have both positive and negative effects on the body depending on the circumstances, and too much or too little are equally undesirable for different reasons.
We also know that eating nutritious foods, exercising, and taking certain supplements can help reduce inflammation, but exactly which protocols are “best” in this regard is still up in the air.
That hasn’t stopped health gurus from adopting and then whoring out inflammation reduction as a panacea to be maximized through dubious pills, powders, and dietary and lifestyle protocols.
Hence, the “anti-inflammatory diet,” which is particularly popular among gullible celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Channing Tatum, Penelope Cruz, and yes, Tom Brady.
According to the main proponents of this diet, inflammation is the common denominator of all disease and dysfunction, and our modern way of living and eating has pushed systemic inflammation to dangerously high levels.
This, they claim, can lead to all manner of ailments, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, and other maladies.
There’s also a handful of studies that show diet can affect various blood markers of inflammation, which lends just enough “scienciness” to the theory to help sell it to the masses.
So, what foods are “inflammatory,” you’re wondering? That depends on who you ask, but the usual scapegoats are foods like . . .
- White flour
- Saturated fat
- Coffee and caffeine
- Red meat
- Processed meats
- Most grains
- Cooking oils like canola, safflower, and peanut oil
And what’s “anti-inflammatory?”
This list mostly boils down to most fruits and vegetables, olive oil, seafood, and more or less all of the other stuff that every diet book recommends.
And hence the paradox of “anti-inflammatory” eating: it’s a perfectly reasonable and rather healthy diet, but not for the reasons we’re told.
- There are many, many different kinds of inflammation and they can be helpful or harmful to the body. For example, inflammation is involved in the development of heart disease, but certain kinds of inflammation also help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels and build muscle.
- There’s some evidence that eating healthier can generally reduce inflammation in the body, but there’s no evidence you need to completely eliminate “bad” foods or mostly eat specific foods to accomplish this. Instead, you just need to eat plenty of plant-based foods and limit your intake of highly processed junk.
- One of the best ways to minimize harmful inflammation in the body is maintaining a normal body weight. In other words, any diet that ensures you don’t become overweight is inherently “anti-inflammatory,” regardless of what you’re eating.
Many of the “anti-inflammatory diet” canons, then, are really just common sense guidelines for eating like a responsible adult.
Except they’re taken too far, making dieting far less flexible and enjoyable than it should be, and in the case of Brady’s variation, entering the realm of absurdity.
For example, he claims that dairy is inflammatory because . . . who knows, he never gives an explanation. Not only is his advice to avoid dairy unnecessary and unsupported, it’s also directly contradicted by his advice to drink his TB12 whey protein isolate.
According to Brady, whey protein is inflammatory, but not his whey protein, natch. Even when you’re eating several scoops per day.
He also fingers caffeine as pro-inflammatory without providing any explanation or evidence as to why this might be.
To the contrary, moderate coffee intake is associated with a lower risk of cancer and mortality and free of adverse effects such as general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance, changes in adult behavior, increased incidence of cancer, and effects on male fertility.
The bottom line is Tom Brady’s version of the anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t offer any health benefits you can’t get from other, more flexible healthy diets.
In other words, an “anti-inflammatory diet” alone isn’t enough—you must also follow an “alkaline diet” as well.
To understand what this is, you need to understand pH.
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity of a solution. A pH of less than seven is acidic, while a pH greater than seven is alkaline. The more acidic a substance, the more it can react with other substances and cause chemical changes.
The theory behind the alkaline diet goes like this:
- The body functions best when the pH in your blood stays within a narrow, healthy range, and disease and dysfunction result from allowing your blood pH to drop too low for too long.
- Some foods have a high pH (alkaline foods) and some foods have a low pH (acidic foods).
- Eating too many acidic foods lowers the blood’s pH, making it more acidic and causing all kinds of internal mayhem like bone and muscle loss, back pain, and decreased growth hormone production.
Most alkaline dieters recommend you limit your intake of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, sugar, grains, and caffeine, and eat lots of plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. In some cases, they also recommend you consume only alkaline water.
And hey, you could do a lot worse in the kitchen. That certainly won’t impair your health, but as in the case of the anti-inflammatory diet, not for the reasons you’re told.
Namely, the foods you eat don’t significantly impact the pH of your blood or any organ in your body. And that’s good because if they did, we’d all be dead by now.
Like body temperature, blood pH is tightly regulated to remain in the range of 7.36 to 7.44—something scientists have understood since the 1930s. To move the blood pH needle, you need to go to extremes likes developing diabetes, starving yourself, and overdosing on alcohol, not eating a box of donuts or bowl of broccoli.
Now, Brady doesn’t live by just any alkaline diet, of course—his twist banishes a bunch of foods that are normally allowed on “alkaline-friendly” menus.
For example, he recommends you limit your intake of strawberries, oranges, and kiwi, which are generally greenlighted by advocates of the alkaline diet.
Brady’s reasoning for this is simply that they’re “acidic,” and I guess he’s right in a way because strawberries, for example, have a pH of around 3 to 4. That doesn’t mean they’re bad for you, though.
Nearly every food you eat is acidic to some degree in that its pH is below 7, and this includes many Brady-approved foods like blueberries (3 pH), grapes (3.5 to 4.5 pH), and olives (3.6 pH). Even his beloved staples like sweet potatoes, squash, and spinach have a pH of less than 7, meaning they’re all acidic to one degree or another.
This is why research stretching back to the beginning of nutrition science says the pH of the foods we eat doesn’t matter in the least. They’re all broken down in the acid pit that is the stomach, and the body uses a variety of powerful mechanisms to regulate its pH levels.
In other words, worrying about the pH of your food is like worrying about the nitrogen content of the air you breath—it’s simply a nonissue.
A good recent example of this fact comes from a meta-analysis (a study of studies) conducted by scientists at the University of Calgary.
They analyzed the data from five studies where people ate different amounts of acidic foods and took various measures of bone health.
The researchers found there was no relationship between the amount of acidic food people ate and markers of bone degradation or calcium loss. Hence the following conclusion:
There is no evidence . . . that increasing the diet acid load promotes skeletal bone mineral loss or osteoporosis. Promotion of the ‘alkaline diet’ to prevent calcium loss is not justified.
Oh and while we’re busy pillaging claims of alkalinity and health, let’s meet the man who popularized the alkaline diet, Robert Young.
A man who was convicted in 2016 of practicing medicine without a license and then convicted in 2017 of defrauding his patients, including taking $77,000 from a woman dying from cancer to inject her with baking soda, which did nothing, of course, and she died.
The bottom line is most types of “alkaline diets” are healthy enough ways to eat, but not for the reasons given. The underpinnings are pseudoscience that has been debunked by multiple scientific studies over the past 100 years.
The idea that you shouldn’t combine certain foods has been with us for a long time.
For example, the bestselling 1999 book Get Skinny on Fabulous Foods by Suzanne Somers claimed that protein and carbs require different digestive enzymes and so should be eaten separately to optimize digestion and absorption.
Brady’s diet advice echoes this, but he had to take it further of course and demand that you:
- Never eat protein with carbs like bread or potatoes
- Never eat fruit with other food
- Never drink water with meals
Why? Who knows—no explanation is provided.
As for number one, I’m not aware of any research on how eating protein with carbs might affect digestion, but I do know of a long list of studies showing that the body has no problem processing and absorbing both carbs and protein when eaten together, so it’s fair to assume Brady’s wrong.
There’s also an interesting study conducted by scientists at University Hospital Geneva that helps shed light on food combining.
The researchers randomly assigned 54 obese men and women to two groups:
- Group one ate balanced meals throughout the day with equal ratios of carbs, protein, and fat.
- Group two ate meals that contained protein but were designed to never contain a large amount of carbs and fat together.
Everyone ate the same amount of calories protein, carbs, and fat, and the same types of food, and after six weeks, group one lost slightly more weight and experienced a significantly greater drop in blood pressure versus group two.
Other than that there were no differences between the groups, indicating combining macronutrients has no significant impact on digestion or absorption.
As far as where Brady’s recommendation to eat fruit in isolation comes from, we’re left to wonder. He offers no explanation.
And his no-drinking-water-with-or-around-meals policy? Again, no rationale is given.
It may be based on the old wives’ tale that drinking water dilutes your stomach acid and enzymes, making it more difficult to digest food.
This is demonstrably false, as the body adjusts the production of stomach acid and enzymes based on how much fluid you consume. Hence, the large body of evidence showing the body has no trouble digesting nutrients when they’re mixed with water.
Oh and let’s not forget that Brady recommends drinking his protein shakes, which aren’t food mixed with water I guess? It makes sense if you don’t think about it.
The bottom line is anybody who says you shouldn’t combine certain foods is wrong. How you combine foods and macronutrients won’t make any difference in your ability to digest and absorb nutrients, gain or lose weight, improve your health, or anything else.
In his book, Brady recommends halving your body weight in pounds, and drinking that number of ounces of water per day.
For example, I’m 195 pounds, so 195 / 2 = 98 ounces of water, or about three quarters of a gallon.
That said, Brady personally claims to drink up to 12 to 25 glasses of water per day, which works out to about 100 to 200 ounces or 0.75 to 1.5 gallons per day.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with drinking this much water, and especially if you’re very physically active. That said, you probably don’t need to keep a close eye on your intake. Most research shows you can maintain optimum hydration levels simply by drinking when you’re thirsty.
Brady also encourages readers to consume electrolytes throughout the day, preferably his TB12 brand of electrolyte powder.
And what’s so special about his supplement? Absolutely nothing.
To understand why, let’s start here:
An electrolyte is any chemical that helps conduct electricity in the body, with the main ones being sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
It’s true that low levels of electrolytes can make it harder for the body to function, but you can get all the electrolytes you need from food.
Brady’s product is a good example. Here’s what the nutrition label looks like:
99% of Americans already meet the recommended daily intake of sodium, and those who don’t can easily correct that by sprinkling some salt on their food once or twice per day. Table salt is also about 40% chloride, so that’ll be covered too.
For the other three minerals in his mix, a cup of chopped sweet potatoes has three times more potassium (448 mg) and almost as much magnesium (33 mg). As for the sulfate, there’s no evidence it does much of anything in the body—it’s typically added to foods to increase shelf life.
So, would you rather spend a few hundred dollars per month on Brady’s tasty water powder or ten bucks on sweet potatoes and salt instead?
If you’d take the former, uh, might I introduce you to my own supplement company, Legion Athletics? 🙂
The bottom line is that Brady’s water regimen isn’t unhealthy, but isn’t entirely necessary, either. And his TB12 electrolyte mix is an overpriced combination of minerals that you can easily get from almost any halfway healthy diet.
Saturated fat has been demonized for decades now, and given that Brady grew up in the 90s, it’s understandable why he still thinks it should be avoided.
In case you’re not familiar with the term, saturated fat is a type of fat that’s solid at room temperature and found in many animal and some plant sources, including meat, cream, cheese, butter, lard, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, and palm kernel oil.
And why should you limit your intake of it? As usual, Brady doesn’t say, but it’s fair to assume it has to do with heart disease.
This advice isn’t entirely wrongheaded. Saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease, but only when consumed in large amounts over a long period of time, and even then the correlation isn’t very strong.
What this means, then, is so long as you keep your saturated fat intake at or below about 10% of your total daily calories, your shouldn’t be worried about your ticker.
It’s also worth noting that some health agencies think the relationship between saturated fat intake and heart disease is so concrete that intake should be well beneath 10% of daily calories, but it’s still a good rule of thumb.
Some research also suggests that saturated fat may increase inflammation in the body, but as you learned earlier, this doesn’t automatically mean it’s unhealthy. In fact, most long-term studies show that moderate saturated fat intake has no negative impact on heart health or longevity.
Saturated fat isn’t the only greasy bogeyman according to Brady—cooking oil should be avoided as well, except olive oil where you must.
“Cooking oil” could refer to just about any fat that people use to cook with, but typically it refers to oils with a large amount of polyunsaturated fats such as . . .
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Peanut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Walnut oil
- Safflower oil
For a long time, government health agencies, diet experts, and doctors exhorted people to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat to reduce the risk of disease. Several lines of evidence show this was probably a mistake.
First, as you just learned, the evidence for saturated fat increasing the risk of heart disease is weak, and if you eat halfway sensibly, your saturated fat intake is probably well below 10% of your daily calories.
Furthermore, emerging evidence shows that some polyunsaturated fats may have negative effects in the body when consumed in large amounts, particularly if they’re cooked first. This is why Brady recommends no cooking oils except olive oil, which should be used sparingly.
As Brady’s personal chef says, “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.”
There’s a kernel of truth there, but it’s mostly irrelevant.
Research shows exposing fats like soybean, walnut, sunflower, canola, and olive oil to high heat can transform a small fraction of the fatty acids into trans fats.
A study conducted by scientists at the University of Lethbridge provides insight. Researchers measured the amount of trans fat in canola oil before and after it was used to fry french fries for 7 hours per day for 7 days (49 hours total).
The scientists found that after a week of nonstop frying, the healthy polyunsaturated fat content in the oil was halved and the amount of trans fat increased by 50%.
That sounds bad until you realize it means the canola oil went from about 2.5% trans fat by weight to 3.3%. And that was after being subjected to far more heat than any oil of ours would ever receive.
And yes, that means oils naturally contain trans fat. Here’s a chart that shows the trans fat content of several different kinds of cooking oils:
This isn’t a cause for concern, however, because naturally occurring trans fats aren’t chemically equivalent to those produced artificially or through processing methods (like heating).
This is probably why studies show that naturally occurring trans fats may have some health benefits, including those found in animal products.
What’s more, research also shows that including polyunsaturated fats like canola oil in people’s diets generally improves health and reduces the risk of heart disease, not the other way around.
That said, it probably is a good idea to not superheat volatile oils like canola, soybean, and sunflower oil. Instead, you can use olive oil.
Contrary to what Brady says, olive oil is an ideal candidate for cooking as it mostly contains healthy monounsaturated fats that are highly resistant to burning—so much so that it barely converts into trans fat whatsoever during cooking.
For instance, in a study conducted by scientists at Alexandria University, researchers fried eight batches of potatoes for 15 minutes each in olive oil heated to 356 degrees F, and took samples of the oil after each bout of frying.
After analyzing the samples, the researchers found the two hours of cooking increased the trans fat content of the oil from 0.045% to 0.082%—a vanishingly small amount that would have no impact on your health and wellbeing.
Oh and you don’t need to go in for the fancy, gourmet olive oil, either. Run-of-the-mill oil is just as stable.
The bottom line is you don’t need to micromanage your dietary fat intake. All you need to do is eat a balanced diet that contains moderate amounts of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat and that doesn’t include piles of fried foods every day.
If you eat like Tom Brady, your body is going to do just fine.
It’s going to enjoy plenty of protein, nutritious carbs, and healthy fats, it’s going to stay hydrated, and it won’t be exposed to foods that quickly become harmful if overeaten.
You, however, may not like it so much.
You may not appreciate the arbitrary, unnecessary, and unscientific restrictions on what and when you can eat, which will certainly include foods you savor.
And you may not want to buy Brady’s supplements, which are promoted as part and parcel of his way of eating.
You should also know that Brady doesn’t pretend his diet is backed by science. Instead, it has evolved based on his personal experiences and the advice of mentors, and of one in particular: Alex Guerrero.
As reported by the New York Times, “Guerrero is his spiritual guide, counselor, pal, nutrition adviser, trainer, massage therapist and family member. He is the godfather of Brady’s younger son, Ben. He accompanies Brady to almost every Patriots game, home and away, and stands on the sidelines. He works with Brady’s personal chef to put together optimally healthful menus; he plans Brady’s training schedule months in advance. Above all, during the football season he works on Brady seven days a week, usually twice a day.”
Guerrero’s also Tom Brady’s business partner at TB12 sports, which published Brady’s book and produces all of his supplements.
All very interesting, but not nearly as interesting as what Alex Guerrero was up to before Brady.
After graduating from the now defunct SAMRA University in Los Angeles in the mid ‘90s with a masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guerrero went on to establish an impressive rap sheet:
- He started his
life of crimecareer in 2003 by pretending to be a doctor on late-night infomercials to shill a supplement called Supreme Greens.
Guerrero claimed to have conducted a study on it with over 200 terminally ill cancer patients in which all but eight were cured after drinking the pond scum every day.
He also lied that Supreme Greens could prevent and cure AIDS, MS, Parkinson’s, as well as a number of other diseases.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) didn’t like this, found Guerrero guilty of fraud, and ordered him to publicly admit he wasn’t a doctor, the research never happened, and Supreme Greens had never undergone any scientific testing whatsoever, and to never promote a similar product again.
- Guerrero doesn’t learn too well so in 2012, he reprised his role as a fake doctor in another infomercial to peddle another worthless supplement called NeuroSafe, which purported to prevent, treat, and cure concussions.
Guerrero claimed it was “a seatbelt for your brain,” and tricked football players like Wes Welker and Tom Brady into taking it and providing glowing testimonials.
In other words, Guerrero was daring the FTC bash his skull in again, and they were happy to oblige. Investigators launched another investigation, but he closed shop and refunded customers before they filed any charges. What a guy!
- A year earlier, in 2011, Guerrero’s former friend and super featherweight boxing champion Genaro Hernández accused Guerrero of bilking him of over $200,000 in a botched investment deal. Guerrero never repaid the money.
- After weaseling his way into Brady’s life and earning his trust, Guerrero encouraged other Patriots players to listen to him instead of team doctors and trainers, despite having absolutely no bona fides. His meddling became such a nuisance that Bill Belichick banned Guerrero from the sidelines and team planes and facilities.
- Guerrero just so happened to be working with Patriots player, Julian Edelman, right around the time he was busted for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
And now Brady’s diet makes more sense.
Guerrero’s a grifter, liar, and criminal who’s adept at using bullshit to trick people into buying his ideas, products, and services, and it would appear that the con he has pulled on Brady is the jewel in his crooked crown.
How did Guerrero do it?
Who knows, but it likely involved exploiting Brady’s affinity for questioning conventions and seeking out “paths less traveled” for achieving unprecedented levels of success. And as one of the greatest athletes of all time, he clearly has a knack for it.
That doesn’t make Brady omniscient and immune to chicanery, however—a character flaw that has ruined many great men and women throughout history.
For instance, throughout his entire life, the peerless Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant was repeatedly taken in by con artists, rent seekers, and pied pipers who dazzled him with quick-fix solutions and fantastical schemes. Again and again, Grant defended these people until the bitter end, when the evidence of their treachery became so obvious and overwhelming that no defense could even be attempted.
Anyway, my point is this: we’ve all known likable liars, and it would appear that Brady has entrusted his body with one who has created a diet in his own shifty image.
By now, you’ve probably decided Tom Brady’s diet isn’t for you.
What should you do instead, though? How can you use food to optimize your body composition, physical and psychological health and wellbeing, and longevity?
It’s easier than you might think.
1. Eat mostly whole, minimally processed, nutritious foods.
This includes all kinds of fruits and vegetables regardless of whether or not they’re organic, seasonal, or non-GMO.
Check out this article to learn more:
2. Eat the right number of calories every day.
If you want to lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn.
If you want to gain weight, eat more calories than you burn.
And if you want to maintain your weight, eat more or less the same number of calories that you burn.
Once you know how to do these things, you’ll have unlocked a major “secret” to building the body of your dreams.
Check out this article to learn more:
3. Eat enough protein.
A high-protein diet benefits your body in many ways:
- It increases satiety (fullness)
- It helps control blood sugar levels
- It helps reduce muscle loss and increase muscle gain
- It helps increase fat loss
- And more
In short, for most people under most circumstances—and especially physically active people—a high-protein diet is superior to a low-protein one in just about every way.
How much protein should you be eating, then? Check out this article to learn the answer:
4. Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting.
There are many ways to train your muscles, but if you want to gain size and strength as quickly as possible, nothing is more effective than heavy compound weightlifting.
It’s better than workout machines, “pump” classes, bodyweight exercises, Yoga, Pilates, and band training (which is what Brady recommends in the almost-as-bad training section of his book).
What do I mean by “heavy compound” lifting, though?
And by “heavy,” I mean lifting weights that are at or above 75% of your one-rep max (weights that you can do 12 reps or less with before failing) and coming close to technical failure in most of your sets.
If you want to learn more about why this kind of training is so effective and how to do it properly, check out this article:
5. Take the right supplements.
I saved this for last because it’s the least important.
Unfortunately, no amount of pills or powders are going to give you the body you want.
In fact, most supplements are completely worthless, and that goes for fat burners, muscle builders, health and wellness boosters, cognitive enhancers, and all the rest.
That said, if you’re eating and training properly, the right supplements can help you get results faster.
If you want to learn more about fat loss supplements, check out these articles:
And if you want to learn more about muscle building supplements, check out these articles:
And if you want to learn more about health and wellness supplements, check out these articles:
At bottom, Tom Brady’s diet is healthy enough.
It includes lots of protein, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood and excludes a long list of foods that people tend to overeat like sugar, refined carbs, and fried fare.
The downside is it places you in a dietary straitjacket that you’ll eventually tire of wearing, and especially when you realize it’s mostly comprised of pseudoscience and quackery.
For example, Brady recommends avoiding a long list of “anti-inflammatory” and “acidic” foods that includes strawberries, oranges, dairy, peppers, and red meat. He offers no compelling argument as to why such foods should be shunned nor counterarguments to the abundance of scientific evidence that says otherwise.
Brady also says you shouldn’t combine protein and carbs or drink water with meals and should eat as little saturated fat and cooking oil as possible—all scientifically silly ideas.
What’s more, Brady repeatedly contradicts his own diet advice.
- Dairy is inflammatory, but his TB12 whey protein isn’t.
- Strawberries are acidic but blueberries aren’t, even though they have the same pH.
- Water with food is bad, but water with TB12 whey protein is good.
We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this, however, because Brady’s diet isn’t his brain(less)child so much as his personal guru Alex Guerrero’s, who’s a convicted con man with a penchant for pretending to be a doctor to sell useless supplements on late-night infomercials.
So, if you want to enjoy all the same health and wellness perks as Brady without subjecting yourself to trial by fad dieting, do this:
- Eat mostly whole, minimally processed, nutritious foods.
- Eat the right number of calories every day.
- Eat enough protein.
- Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting.
- Take the right supplements.
That’s really all it takes to feel, perform, and look your best at any age.
What’s your take on Tom Brady’s diet? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
+ Scientific References
- Evans, E. M., Mojtahedi, M. C., Thorpe, M. P., Valentine, R. J., Kris-Etherton, P. M., & Layman, D. K. (2012). Effects of protein intake and gender on body composition changes: A randomized clinical weight loss trial. Nutrition and Metabolism, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-9-55
- Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein, weight management, and satiety. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(5). https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1558s
- Gannon, M. C., & Nuttall, F. Q. (2004). Effect of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, 53(9), 2375–2382. https://doi.org/10.2337/diabetes.53.9.2375
- Casal, S., Malheiro, R., Sendas, A., Oliveira, B. P. P., & Pereira, J. A. (2010). Olive oil stability under deep-frying conditions. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 48(10), 2972–2979. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2010.07.036
- Gamel, T. H., Kiritsakis, A., & Petrakis, C. (1999). Effect of phenolic extracts on trans fatty acid formation during frying. Grasas y Aceites, 50(6), 421–425. https://doi.org/10.3989/gya.1999.v50.i6.689
- Bastida, S., & Sánchez-Muniz, F. J. (2001). Thermal Oxidation of Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil and a Mix of Both Oils during Forty Discontinuous Domestic Fryings of Different Foods. Food Science and Technology International, 7(1), 15–21. https://doi.org/10.1106/1898-PLW3-6Y6H-8K22
- de Lorgeril, M., Renaud, S., Salen, P., Monjaud, I., Mamelle, N., Martin, J. L., Guidollet, J., Touboul, P., & Delaye, J. (1994). Mediterranean alpha-linolenic acid-rich diet in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. The Lancet, 343(8911), 1454–1459. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(94)92580-1
- Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. In Nutrition Journal (Vol. 9, Issue 1, p. 10). BioMed Central. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-10
- Benjamin, S., Prakasan, P., Sreedharan, S., Wright, A. D. G., & Spener, F. (2015). Pros and cons of CLA consumption: An insight from clinical evidences. In Nutrition and Metabolism (Vol. 12, Issue 1, p. 4). BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-12-4
- Aladedunye, F. A., & Przybylski, R. (2009). Degradation and nutritional quality changes of oil during frying. JAOCS, Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 86(2), 149–156. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11746-008-1328-5
- Azizian, H., & Kramer, J. K. G. (2005). A rapid method for the quantification of fatty acids in fats and oils with emphasis on trans fatty acids using fourier transform near infrared spectroscopy (FT-NIR). Lipids, 40(8), 855–867. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-005-1448-3
- Bartsch, H., Nair, J., & Owen, R. W. (1999). Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and cancers of the breast and colorectum: Emerging evidence for their role as risk modifiers. In Carcinogenesis (Vol. 20, Issue 12, pp. 2209–2218). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/carcin/20.12.2209
- Dinicolantonio, J. J., & O’Keefe, J. H. (2018). Omega-6 vegetable oils as a driver of coronary heart disease: The oxidized linoleic acid hypothesis. In Open Heart (Vol. 5, Issue 2, p. e000898). BMJ Publishing Group. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2018-000898
- Dehghan, M., Mente, A., Zhang, X., Swaminathan, S., Li, W., Mohan, V., Iqbal, R., Kumar, R., Wentzel-Viljoen, E., Rosengren, A., Amma, L. I., Avezum, A., Chifamba, J., Diaz, R., Khatib, R., Lear, S., Lopez-Jaramillo, P., Liu, X., Gupta, R., … Mapanga, R. (2017). Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. The Lancet, 390(10107), 2050–2062. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32252-3
- Liu, A. G., Ford, N. A., Hu, F. B., Zelman, K. M., Mozaffarian, D., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2017). A healthy approach to dietary fats: Understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion. In Nutrition Journal (Vol. 16, Issue 1). BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-017-0271-4
- Fritsche, K. L. (2015). The Science of Fatty Acids and Inflammation. Advances in Nutrition, 6(3), 293S-301S. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.114.006940
- heart and stroke foundation. (n.d.). SATURATED FAT HEART DISEASE AND STROKE RECOMMENDATIONS.
- Jackson, S. L., Cogswell, M. E., Zhao, L., Terry, A. L., Wang, C. Y., Wright, J., Coleman King, S. M., Bowman, B., Chen, T. C., Merritt, R., & Loria, C. M. (2018). Association between urinary sodium and potassium excretion and blood pressure among adults in the United States national health and nutrition examination survey, 2014. Circulation, 137(3), 237–246. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.029193
- Lewis, J. L. I. (n.d.). Overview of Electrolytes - Hormonal and Metabolic Disorders - Merck Manuals Consumer Version. Retrieved November 3, 2020, from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/overview-of-electrolytes
- Noakes, T. D. (2011). Is drinking to thirst optimum? In Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism (Vol. 57, Issue SUPPL. 2, pp. 9–17). Ann Nutr Metab. https://doi.org/10.1159/000322697
- Maughan, R. J., & Shirreffs, S. M. (2008). Development of individual hydration strategies for athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 18(5), 457–472. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.18.5.457
- Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007). Exercise and fluid replacement. In Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (Vol. 39, Issue 2, pp. 377–390). Med Sci Sports Exerc. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31802ca597
- Fisher, R. S., Malmud, L. S., Bandini, P., & Rock, E. (1982). Gastric emptying of a physiologic mixed solid-liquid meal. Clinical Nuclear Medicine, 7(5), 215–221. https://doi.org/10.1097/00003072-198205000-00005
- Golay, A., Allaz, A. F., Ybarra, J., Bianchi, P., Saraiva, S., Mensi, N., Gomis, R., & De Tonnac, N. (2000). Similar weight loss with low-energy food combining or balanced diets. International Journal of Obesity, 24(4), 492–496. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0801185
- Stephens, B. R., Sautter, J. M., Holtz, K. A., Sharoff, C. G., Chipkin, S. R., & Braun, B. (2007). Effect of timing of energy and carbohydrate replacement on post-exercise insulin action. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 32(6), 1139–1147. https://doi.org/10.1139/H07-126
- Cribb, P. J., & Hayes, A. (2006). Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(11), 1918–1925. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000233790.08788.3e
- Kreider, R. B., Earnest, C. P., Lundberg, J., Rasmussen, C., Greenwood, M., Cowan, P., & Almada, A. L. (2007). Effects of ingesting protein with various forms of carbohydrate following resistance-exercise on substrate availability and markers of anabolism, catabolism, and immunity. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-18
- Tang, J. E., Manolakos, J. J., Kujbida, G. W., Lysecki, P. J., Moore, D. R., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Minimal whey protein with carbohydrate stimulates muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise in trained young men. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 32(6), 1132–1138. https://doi.org/10.1139/H07-076
- Fenton, T. R., Lyon, A. W., Eliasziw, M., Tough, S. C., & Hanley, D. A. (2009). Meta-Analysis of the Effect of the Acid-Ash Hypothesis of Osteoporosis on Calcium Balance. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 24(11), 1835–1840. https://doi.org/10.1359/jbmr.090515
- Mostert, M., & Bonavia, A. (2016). Starvation ketoacidosis as a cause of unexplained metabolic acidosis in the perioperative period. American Journal of Case Reports, 17, 755–758. https://doi.org/10.12659/AJCR.900002
- Umpierrez, G. E., Latif, K., Stoever, J., Cuervo, R., Park, L., X. Freire, A., & E. Kitabchi, A. (2004). Efficacy of subcutaneous insulin lispro versus continuous intravenous regular insulin for the treatment of patients with diabetic ketoacidosis. American Journal of Medicine, 117(5), 291–296. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2004.05.010
- Bischoff, F., Sansum, W. D., Long, M. L., & Dewar, M. M. (1934). The Effect of Acid Ash and Alkaline Ash Foodstuffs on the Acid-Base Equilibrium of Man. The Journal of Nutrition, 7(1), 51–65. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/7.1.51
- Lee Hamm, L., Nakhoul, N., & Hering-Smith, K. S. (2015). Acid-base homeostasis. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 10(12), 2232–2242. https://doi.org/10.2215/CJN.07400715
- Fenton, T. R., & Lyon, A. W. (2011). Milk and acid-base balance: proposed hypothesis versus scientific evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 30(5 Suppl 1), 471S-475S. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2011.10719992
- Schwalfenberg, G. K. (2012). The alkaline diet: Is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health? In Journal of Environmental and Public Health (Vol. 2012). Hindawi Publishing Corporation. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/727630
- Nawrot, P., Jordan, S., Eastwood, J., Rotstein, J., Hugenholtz, A., & Feeley, M. (2003). Effects of caffeine on human health. In Food Additives and Contaminants (Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 1–30). Food Addit Contam. https://doi.org/10.1080/0265203021000007840
- Loftfield, E., Cornelis, M. C., Caporaso, N., Yu, K., Sinha, R., & Freedman, N. (2018). Association of coffee drinking with mortality by genetic variation in caffeine metabolism: Findings from the UK Biobank. JAMA Internal Medicine, 178(8), 1086–1097. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2425
- Tavani, A., & La Vecchia, C. (2000). Coffee and cancer: A review of epidemiological studies, 1990-1999. In European Journal of Cancer Prevention (Vol. 9, Issue 4, pp. 241–256). Eur J Cancer Prev. https://doi.org/10.1097/00008469-200008000-00004
- Lee, H., Lee, I. S., & Choue, R. (2013). Obesity, inflammation and diet. In Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (Vol. 16, Issue 3, pp. 143–152). Korean Society of Pediartic Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.5223/pghn.2013.16.3.143
- Ellulu, M. S., Patimah, I., Khaza’ai, H., Rahmat, A., & Abed, Y. (2017). Obesity & inflammation: The linking mechanism & the complications. Archives of Medical Science, 13(4), 851–863. https://doi.org/10.5114/aoms.2016.58928
- McKay, B. R., De Lisio, M., Johnston, A. P. W., O’Reilly, C. E., Phillips, S. M., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Parise, G. (2009). Association of interleukin-6 signalling with the muscle stem cell response following muscle-lengthening contractions in humans. PLoS ONE, 4(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0006027
- Lee, J., Sun, C., Zhou, Y., Lee, J., Gokalp, D., Herrema, H., Park, S. W., Davis, R. J., & Ozcan, U. (2011). P38 MAPK-mediated regulation of Xbp1s is crucial for glucose homeostasis. Nature Medicine, 17(10), 1251–1260. https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.2449
- Lu, L., Sun, R. R., Liu, M., Zheng, Y., & Zhang, P. (2015). The Inflammatory Heart Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 72(3), 851–855. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12013-015-0550-7
- Chrysohoou, C., Panagiotakos, D. B., Pitsavos, C., Das, U. N., & Stefanadis, C. (2004). Adherence to the Mediterranean diet attenuates inflammation and coagulation process in healthy adults: The ATTICA study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 44(1), 152–158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2004.03.039