I Ate Like Tom Brady For a Week and It Changed the Way I’ll Diet Forever

He’s a Super Bowl superstar, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, and ridiculously, happily married to a beautiful supermodel; what can’t Tom Brady do? Eat poorly is the answer, it seems.

TB12’s head chef Andrea Nordby spoke with me about Tom Brady’s diet as I prepared to eat like Brady for the week. Let’s take a quick look at what Brady (and his family) eats and how copying their diet affected me, including learning about vegetables I didn’t even know existed.

Yes, this is what Tom Brady really eats

Treats are rare in this family. | Gisele Bündchen via Instagram

According to Nordby, these recipes are sometimes taken directly from plant-based meals Tom Brady and his family (I see you, Gisele) have personally enjoyed. Others are inspired by the TB12 nutritional guidelines that structure Brady’s diet.

Brady follows an 80% plant-based diet, so I chose to as well. I portioned out the three TB12 meals so that I’d have enough for lunch and dinner throughout the entire week. TB12 is low in soy, gluten-free, and limited on the use of refined sugar. It also limits its use of inflammation-associated veggies like peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes.

Next Gisele and the kids follow the diet too.

Here’s how Brady’s family eats

The Brady-Bündchen family. | Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Gisele follows the 80% vegetable diet, too. Allen Campbell, the couple’s personal chef, revealed what he buys for the family. “[I buy] the freshest vegetables. If it’s not organic, I don’t use it … The other 20% is lean meats: grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then, and chicken. As for fish, I mostly cook wild salmon.”

Here’s what the couple won’t eat: White sugar, white flour, MSG, olive oil, and iodized salts. We’ll also assume they don’t indulge in seven-layer dips the way we do while watching Brady play.

Next: Brady’s healthy lifestyle doesn’t stop at food.

Mental and physical fitness are both important to Brady’s health

Tom Brady in a suit

His mental health is just as important as fitness. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Brain games are part of Tom Brady’s everyday routine. “Brady cycles through 29 games that train attention, memory, brain speed, navigation, people skills and intelligence,” according to Greg Bishop, a Sports Illustrated writer who tested the TB12 Method with Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero.

“Most athletes are really good at taking care of their bodies,” Guerrero told Bishop, “but they never look at taking care of their brains.”

Next: How many glasses of water does Brady drink a day?

Don’t try this at home, folks

Tom Brady Electrolyte water

Electrolytes every day keep the doctors away. | Tom Brady via Instagram

On any given day, Brady drinks as many as 25 glasses of water. There’s a method to his madness. Brady drinks large amounts of water to stay hydrated. As a professional athlete, Brady is more active than the average person, meaning he needs more water.

However, medical professionals are skeptical of his water intake. “This is definitely one of those ‘Don’t do this at home’ situations,” Mark Zeidel, a Harvard Medical School professor told GQ Magazine. According to Zeidel, drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia and water intoxication.

Next: Here’s what I noticed eating like Tom Brady.

I saw a spike in my energy

Vegetables on a cutting board being added to a skillet.

A diet rich in whole ingredients will fuel your body with energy. | Efired/iStock/Getty Images

My biggest guilty pleasure? Napping. I’d always attributed my random bouts of exhaustion to working hard, a minor case of insomnia, and a reaction to my daily medication.

However, it took only one week of eating like Brady to realize that my diet must have played a large role in my lack of energy. I slept a solid eight hours nearly every night and worked out every day but one. I noticed a significant spike in my energy. I woke up to work more energetic than ever before. “A plant-based diet will provide clearer skin, better gym performance and energy, weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease,” Norby told me.

Next: I actually paid attention to what I was eating.

I spent more time focusing on what I was eating

Black bean tacos on a wooden board and table.

These yummy tacos are healthy and super easy to make! | Purple Carrot

The TB12 meals came with whole ingredients. I opened my first meal to find a can of black beans, uncooked rice, and all of the vegetables needed to make hand-made guacamole. As a novice cook (at best), I started with the Cuban-Style Black Bean Tacos to reacquaint myself with what I was capable of.

Each meal took less than an hour to prepare and probably would have taken under 30 minutes if I’d had a bit more experience. However, paying attention each night to what I was cooking encouraged me to research the ingredients I was putting into my body.

Next: This is how my stomach felt.

I felt fuller quicker

Tofu and vegetable pho in decorative bowls on a wooden table.

This veggie and tofu pho is perfect for quick winter dinners. | Purple Carrot

As a pescetarian, the majority of my protein comes from fish, beans, and dairy. I also eat more processed and simple carbohydrates than I do complex carbs. Eating high-fiber foods like rice noodles, basmati rice, and green vegetables kept me full from meal to meal. I noticed my desire to snack dropped drastically as well.

I was able to keep most of my meals, like the Loaded Vegetable Pho, for a few days. The dish had 20 grams of protein per serving, but half of my plate was still filled with vegetables.

Next: I didn’t even know these vegetables existed.

I learned about vegetables I’d never even heard of

A white plate full of vegetables and a silver fork.

This writer opened herself up to new culinary experiences. | Purple Carrot

My biggest failure came the other night when I attempted to make my last TB12 meal: Rutabaga Apple Hash. I mindlessly grabbed a bag of baby spinach, threw it in a pot of boiling water reserved for the rutabaga, and cooked it until it was a sad, soppy, unusable mess. For future reference: Rutabaga is a root vegetable cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It looks nothing like spinach. Also, it was labeled.

Regardless, this served as the best example of how much I learned through the meals. I learned the value (and appearance) of vegetables like rutabaga, yu choy, and broccolini. I feel way more likely to utilize these vegetables in future dishes, rather than avoid them in the produce aisle.

Next: My future plans with a plant-based diet.

I’ll definitely be making more of my meals plant-based

Vegetables and spices on a gray table.

These dishes will be full of flavor and nutrients. | Beats3/Getty Images

I’m a committed pescetarian and usually attempt to follow a Mediterranean-style diet. I love a good everything bagel, however, and pizza plays a larger role in my life than I’d like to admit. However, after gaining access to delicious recipes, I relished in creating meals that I could feel good about putting into my body.

Nordby relayed Purple Carrot’s mission to me — what sets the company apart — to convince customers that plant-based eating can be delicious and enjoyable. “We’re focused on having recipes within the weeks that are recognizable and excite customers to try a plant-based diet … We’re always cooking recipes from other cultures,” she said.

Next: Here’s how I’ll work it into my diet.

How I’ll incorporate it into my diet

A person chops up bell peppers on a cutting board.

Start planning those trips to the farmer’s market. | iStock.com

Purple Carrot and TB12 achieved their goal with me: a satisfied customer who is looking to make at least one to two of their meals per week plant-based. While I won’t be giving up fish and dairy (or pizza) anytime soon, I noticed how great eating plant-based made me feel and want to see these results weekly.

“A lot of our customers aren’t plant-based on their own, so one meal a week will still be effective,” Nordby said. Currently, TB12 is offering a TB12 Nutrition Manual, what they call a “living document” about their nutritional philosophies as well as 89 seasonally-inspired recipes that follow the TB12 nutrition plan.

Next: Where does the inspiration for Brady’s diet come from?

About TB12 and Purple Carrot

Vegetable and tofu Pho in a white and blue bowl.

There are tons of options for you to choose from. | Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot was founded by Andy Levitt in 2014. Levitt was facing the complications of his Crohn’s disease and tried a plant-based diet to change his lifestyle and help his health. He noticed incredible results, and the rest was history.

The four-person culinary team gets their inspiration from the produce and products you’d recognize from your local farmer’s market. They make sure their menu features a balance of approachable, fun recipes that are packed with nutrients. TB12 is always trying to hit 20 grams of protein per serving through only incorporating whole foods. Levitt, a dedicated Patriots and Tom Brady fan, met the athlete in 2016 when they created the TB12 Performance Meal line together.

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