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.
Brady began his brand, TB12 Method, to help other athletes achieve and sustain peak performance from a holistic standpoint. He doesn’t preach fad diets but instead offers a realistic approach to eating, exercising, and living healthier. In 2016, Tom Brady’s team met with Purple Carrot, a plant-based, pre-measured meal delivery service, and developed a fast friendship. Together they created TB12 Performance Meals, which follow Purple Carrot’s plant-based method in addition to being gluten-free.
Head chef Andrea Nordby spoke with me about the diet as I prepared to eat 80% plant-based, like Brady, for the week. She relayed the values of a plant-based diet to me, but by eating the meals I saw what it could do for my body, my energy, and my weight. Let’s take a quick look at what Brady eats and how it affected me, including learning about vegetables I didn’t even know existed.
Yes, this is what Tom Brady really eats
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 began most days with a granola bar or staple carb (I only ate one bagel, an accomplishment for me). 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: I’m not a morning person, but I really liked this change.
I saw a spike in my energy
My biggest guilty pleasure? Napping. Napping after a food coma-inducing meal, napping after a tough workout, napping after a long, hefty nap. 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’ve proclaimed time and time again that the one thing I’m not is a morning person, but 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
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, as well as kitchen tools like knives and pots — did I mention I hadn’t cooked a meal in months?
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. It helped that I was receiving all of the ingredients and produce, rather than the chemically-enhanced and readily prepared meals that other delivery services offer.
Next: This is how my stomach felt.
I felt fuller quicker
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, and I wasn’t tempted to stray from the 80% plant-based diet Brady follows.
While the Loaded Vegetable Pho meal claimed to serve two, I was able to share some with a friend and still had some leftover for my next day’s lunch. 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
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
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 — and enjoy, too.
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
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.
I saved all of the recipes from my week eating TB12; I plan to research new takes on the staple veggies and protein sources that my meals featured. “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
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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