What Is the Tom Brady Diet?

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Seared salmon served with green beans
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Tom Brady is well known for his six Superbowl wins and his very strict diet. The professional athlete eats a mostly plant-based diet filled with anti-inflammatory and alkalizing foods. His food choices are almost always organic and locally sourced. When he consumes animal products, it’s lean protein sources like fish.

The restrictions on the Tom Brady diet are extensive. The diet excludes gluten, dairy, corn, soy, MSG, coffee, alcohol, GMOs, sugar, trans fats, overly processed foods and more. Some fruits, vegetables, and oils are also off-limits. While Tom Brady’s diet is strict, it’s full of nutrients and designed to help him minimize inflammation.

What Experts Say

"There’s a lot to like about the Tom Brady diet—eat organic and choose whole unprocessed foods—but there are some restrictions that aren’t backed by science, such as cutting certain veggies like mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes."

Kelly Plowe, MS, RD

Background

As an American football player, Tom Brady makes sports headlines regularly. In recent years, his diet has gained nearly as much attention as his performance on the field. People started taking an interest in Tom Brady’s diet when he revealed that he eats mostly plant-based.
Like many athletes and celebrities, Tom Brady has a private chef to cook his specific meals. His personal chef, Allen Campbell, has an affinity for the vegan diet and produce that’s seasonal, organic and local.

Tom Brady’s diet is what inspired his bestselling book, “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.” In his book, he describes his diet as anti-inflammatory and alkalizing. He claims that his diet boosts energy, prevents bone injuries, enhances athletic performance and increases recovery.

How It Works

While there are a lot of labels surrounding the Tom Brady diet, it truly is unique. There are a lot of rules, however. According to Tom Brady’s private chef, the diet consists of about 80 percent vegetables, whole grains, and beans. The other 20 percent is lean meats. Occasionally, Tom Brady has certain fruits, protein powders, protein bars, nuts, and seeds.

What to Eat

Compliant Foods

  • Most vegetables

  • Fruits like banana

  • Whole grains

  • Beans

  • Lean proteins

  • Protein powders and protein bars

  • TB12 performance meals from Purple Carrot

Non-Compliant Foods

  • Dairy

  • Gluten

  • GMOs and MSG

  • Corn and soy

  • Overly processed foods

  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners

  • Nightshade vegetables and fungi

  • Coffee and alcohol

  • Trans fat and saturated fat

Compliant

Most Vegetables

The bulk of Tom Brady’s lunches and dinners are composed of vegetables. His private chef, who does all of the grocery shopping, only uses the freshest product that’s usually organic and locally sourced. Nightshade vegetables and fungi are off-limits, however.

Fruits, Especially Banana

Tom Brady is a big proponent of protein shakes and smoothies. His breakfast almost always consists of a fruit smoothie with nuts and seeds. His go-to fruit is banana. Until recently, Tom Brady had never even tried a strawberry. Aside from his morning smoothie, he doesn’t consume a large quantity or variety of fruit.

Whole Grains

Complex carbohydrates are a staple for many professional athletes. Tom Brady’s diet includes plenty of brown rice, quinoa, and millet since they sustain energy.

Beans

Since Tom Brady’s diet is predominantly plant-based, he gets some of his protein from beans.

Lean Proteins

Some sources claim that Tom Brady is vegan, but his private chef says otherwise. With lunch or dinner, the Brady family often has animal protein. Depending on the season, this may be steak, salmon, duck or chicken.

Protein Powders and Protein Bars

Tom Brady doesn’t shy away from protein powders. In fact, he sometimes has several scoops of protein powder per day. His post-workout meal is usually a protein shake. If he wants a snack, he might go for a protein bar. Tom Brady is such a big proponent of protein powders that he recently launched his own sports nutrition line, which includes a whey protein powder and a plant-based protein powder.

TB12 Performance Meals from Purple Carrot

Though he’s not fully vegan himself, Tom Brady eats mostly plant-based. Because of this, he partnered with Purple Carrot to create TB12 Performance Meals. If you want to try the Tom Brady diet, this meal delivery service is the next best thing to a private chef.

Non-Compliant

Dairy

Tom Brady frequently describes his diet as an anti-inflammatory. He completely eliminated all dairy products because they don’t fit this description. He drinks almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and his private chef makes creamy dishes with a cashew base.

Gluten

Another allergen that’s eliminated on the Tom Brady diet is gluten. His diet is free of white flour and even soy sauce because they contain gluten. Refined carbs containing gluten aren’t compliant on the Tom Brady diet because of his belief that they have an inflammatory effect on the body.

GMOs and MSG

Eliminating GMOs and MSG from his diet was partially inspired by his private chef. Tom Brady’s chef had already been cooking professionally without these ingredients. Since then, Tom Brady has publicly spoken against food companies that use GMOs

Corn and Soy

Tom Brady doesn’t consume corn and soy because they’re allergens, but because they don’t meet his strict dietary requirements. He believes that soy is acidic, which goes against his alkalizing principles. Corn is typically a GMO food, which explains why he avoids it.

Overly Processed Foods

You won’t find Tom Brady eating Frosted Flakes or Coca Cola. In fact, he’s publicly scrutinized both of these foods. Overly processed foods typically go against several of Tom Brady’s strict criteria. They may contain extra sugar, GMOs, trans fat, gluten, dairy, etc. Instead, Tom Brady prefers to stick to whole, unprocessed foods.

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Tom Brady’s private chef doesn’t cook with any added sugar or artificial sweeteners. He believes that sugar is the root of most people’s health problems. Tom Brady shares this belief as he cut out all sugar as part of his anti-inflammatory protocol.

Nightshade Vegetables and Fungi

While Tom Brady’s diet consists heavily of fresh vegetables, some veggies don’t make the cut. Particularly, he doesn’t consume nightshade vegetables and fungi. This means no tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, potatoes or mushrooms. The reasoning is that they’re not anti-inflammatory.

Coffee and Alcohol

Tom Brady’s diet is caffeine-free. He claims to have never even tried coffee. Occasionally he will have a cup of tea, but he doesn’t have coffee because of its acidity. Tom Brady will have alcohol on special occasions, but he tries to avoid it because it can lead to inflammation.

Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

While olive oil and coconut oil are approved by Tom Brady, they must be free of trans fat. For this reason, Tom Brady’s chef never cooks with canola oil. He also only serves olive oil raw and uses coconut oil for cooking. Tom Brady avoids both trans fat and saturated fat as part of his anti-inflammatory regimen.

Recommended Timing

Like the Standard American Diet, the Tom Brady diet includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks are also allowed.

Tom Brady begins his day with electrolyte-infused water. Breakfast is a fruit smoothie with nuts and seeds. After his workout, Tom Brady will have a protein shake with almond milk. Snacks on the Tom Brady diet are usually dehydrated fruits, raw veggies with hummus or guacamole, a protein bar or bone broth.

Tom Brady’s lunch and dinner are heavy on vegetables. His private chef will select fresh vegetables based on seasonality. These meals are typically served with a protein source like fish. Some of his plant-based meals consist of whole grains like quinoa with wilted greens and herbs.

The Tom Brady diet also encourages people to drink plenty of water, but the timing is important. You should drink water 30 minutes before meals, but don’t drink water until one hour after meals.

Resources and Tips

Tom Brady released a book that details his entire diet. The book, “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance,” is a national bestseller and used as a guideline for athletes of all ages and levels.
There are many rules and requirements on the Tom Brady diet. Tom Brady has a private chef, which eliminates the time constraints and stress of sticking to his strict diet. If you don’t have the time to prepare fresh meals, Purple Carrot has a vegan menu approved by Tom Brady. The TB12 Performance Meals are all vegan, gluten-free and high in protein. However, the meals often contain ingredients like corn and soy, which Tom Brady doesn’t personally consume.

Modifications

There’s not much left to take away from the Tom Brady diet. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can modify easily to replace animal protein with plant protein sources.
The Tom Brady gets a lot of criticism for being overly restrictive without much scientific evidence to back it up. Anti-inflammatory foods may have some credibility, but most of the criticism is geared towards the alkalizing part of the Tom Brady diet. There’s also little evidence to back up the claims that nightshade vegetables aren’t anti-inflammatory.
If you find the Tom Brady to be too restrictive for your lifestyle, take inspiration from the core part of it. The root of the Tom Brady diet is to incorporate more whole, unprocessed foods. If that includes tomatoes, tofu and a wider variety of fruit, then adjust to your liking.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Plenty of whole foods

  • Allergen-friendly

  • Suitable for athletes

Cons

  • Not sustainable

  • Overly restrictive

  • Lack of scientific evidence

Pros

Plenty of Whole Foods

One aspect of the Tom Brady diet that gets a lot of praise is that it’s based on whole, unprocessed foods. This allows Tom Brady and other followers of the diet to get plenty of nutrients, protein, and fiber.

Allergen-Friendly

The Tom Brady diet is free of dairy, corn, soy, and gluten. The only allergens remaining are nuts, eggs, and fish. This makes it easy for anyone with these allergens to modify according to their dietary restrictions.

Suitable for Athletes

As an athlete himself, it makes sense that the Tom Brady diet is suitable for athletes of all ages and levels. The diet is designed to reduce inflammation, alkalize the body, boost energy and reduce recovery time—all of which are especially beneficial for athletes.

Cons

Not Sustainable

The Tom Brady diet isn’t sustainable for the average person because of the restrictions. The fresh organic produce is also unrealistic for everyone as it tends to be expensive. Tom Brady also has his own sports nutrition products and meal delivery service in partnership with Purple Carrot. Both of which can be expensive.

Overly Restrictive

Many people have critiqued the diet for being too restrictive. Some people fall off the wagon because many foods are off limits. Even certain vegetables are eliminated, making the diet very limited.

Lack of Scientific Evidence

In his book, Tom Brady makes a lot of claims about the benefits of alkaline foods. He claims that his diet neutralizes the pH level in the body by reducing the acidity. These claims have very little scientific evidence to support them, causing people to call into question whether it’s necessary to adopt an alkalizing diet.

How It Compares

Tom Brady’s diet is often compared to a vegan or plant-based diet. According to his private chef, only 20 percent of his diet contains animal products. The Tom Brady diet is unique in that it doesn’t use many labels related to macronutrients (i.e. low-fat, low-carb, etc.). It’s described loosely as being high in protein, but that’s not the selling point. The main takeaway is that it’s a health-oriented diet surrounded by whole foods.

USDA Recommendations

The Tom Brady diet is high in protein and, considering how many vegetables Tom Brady himself consumes, likely high in fiber. It’s uncommon for a diet to be both high in protein and high in fiber. Where the diet is lacking, however, is in variety.

The 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that people of all genders and ages eat a variety of foods, including foods that are off-limits on the Tom Brady diet.

Lack of Variety

The Tom Brady diet eliminates several foods that are recommended by the USDA guidelines Tom Brady eats gluten-free. If you’re not allergic, whole-grain foods like bread, cereal, and pasta are recommended.

The guidelines also recommend a variety of fruits and vegetables. Tom Brady eats bananas and lots of greens, but he eats very little fruit and avoids nightshade vegetables and fungi altogether. The guidelines list mushrooms and peppers as vegetables to consume.

Too High in Protein

Consuming too much protein is a legitimate concern. The USDA guidelines found that teen boys and adult men consume more protein than recommended. The guidelines recommend that people in this group reduce their overall intake of protein, including animal sources like meat, poultry, and eggs.

On top of plant-based and animal protein sources, Tom Brady consumes multiple servings of protein powder per day. He has at least one protein shake every day with as many as three scoops of protein powder in it. He also consumes protein bars regularly as snacks.
Though he doesn’t count how much protein he’s consuming, his diet may encourage regular people to consume excess protein. Professional athletes like Tom Brady may require more protein than the average person. However, non-athletes likely don’t need three scoops of protein powder per day.

Similar Diets

The Tom Brady diet isn’t the only one with its own set of strict rules and requirements. Similar diets include:

  • Alkaline Diet: The Tom Brady diet is high in alkalizing food, but the Alkaline Diet takes it a step further. Followers of this consume mainly alkaline foods, such as fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables.
  • Engine 2 Diet: Another vegan-friendly diet critiqued for being too strict, the Engine 2 diet focuses on unprocessed plant-based foods. It’s low in fat and free of animal products added sugar and vegetable oils.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Designed to reduce inflammation, this diet claims to prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis and more. The guidelines are similar to the Tom Brady diet, but it’s less restrictive.


A Word From Verywell

Tom Brady and the followers of his diet claim to receive many benefits from this way of eating. This may be a suitable option for athletes who need lots of protein, electrolytes, and nutrients to stay healthy and energized for their sports performance.
However, the majority of people aren’t professional athletes. Your nutritional requirements are likely different from Tom Brady, so your diet doesn’t have to perfectly reflect his.
When plans like the Tom Brady diet are too strict, many people have difficulty staying on track and become disappointed when they veer from the diet. To avoid this, implement a balanced diet in your lifestyle. Coupled with moderate exercise and sleep, a balanced diet can benefit your long-term health.

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