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Tom Brady’s retirement puts a cap on a magnificent 23-year NFL career that saw him win seven Super Bowls and become the greatest player of all time.
The quarterback, 45, credits his unlikely success – going from an afterthought sixth-round pick to holding every passing record in league history – to his zany diet and exercise plan.
He steers clear of food and drinks that are known to trigger inflammation, such as sugar, fast food and alcohol. But he also avoids vegetables high in nitrates, like peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggplant – due to a tenuous link to inflammation.
The weirdness doesn’t stop there. Brady also believes using a foam roller over his muscles is the key to avoiding injury – in a practice he and his trainer call ‘pliability’. He also claims he has never touched coffee before – as he avoids using caffeine.
He is such a firmer believer in his lifestyle he has turned it into a commercialized brand. The ‘TB12 method’ — named after himself and his now-famous jersey number— sells books, meal plans, supplements, protein powder and more.
Tom Brady has credited his bizarre diet and exercise regimen for his rise to NFL GOAT status. he swears off nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes and mushrooms, does not drink coffee and avoids using sunscreen. His main goal is to avoid inflammation in his diet – but there is little evidence his diet is doing much of that. Brady also makes sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, drinks at least three gallons of water each day. He also does joint softening stretches in an effort to soften his muscles and avoid injury – which also is not backed by science
Some have cast doubts on the effectiveness of his lifestyle brand – saying it is not rooted in much scientific evidence and, instead, his success in the field is more due to his natural talent and dedication to his craft.
Brady became the oldest-ever NFL starting quarterback in 2022.
Despite that, he still managed to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an NFC South title and a playoff appearance.
While he is obviously a talented passer, Brady’s longevity might be his most notable trait.
Only two other players in NFL history have played a position other than kicker at 45 or older – and both did so in the 1920s, when the game was unrecognizable compared to its current form.
Despite the players around him getting faster and stronger as the years went by, Brady still managed to compete at the highest level.
He chalks up his success to his strict diet. The quarterback follows an organic, gluten-free and mostly plant-based meal plan.
Brady uses an 80-20 rule – with 80 percent of his diet being vegetables and the other 20 percent meat – to get the needed vitamins and minerals a person needs to stay in top shape.
According to TB12 coach Matt Denning, the focus of Brady’s diet is to avoid inflammation at all costs.
Inflammation occurs when the body’s tissue becomes hot and swollen due to injury or infection.
The process allows the body to remove injured cell tissue and rebuild and recover with healthier tissue.
Too much inflammation can be a problem, though. It can harm a person’s cardiovascular health – which is vital for a professional athlete.
Reducing inflammation can also be good for the lungs, and help improve the passage of oxygen through the airways – also vital for a top-level player.
For a quarterback, avoiding inflammation on his shoulder and elbow can help avoid injuries and keep his arm loose and able.
Tom Brady is widely considered to be the greatest player in NFL history – if not all American sports. He has won a record seven Super Bowls. The quarterback became the oldest ever player to start in the position in 2022, at age 45
A good way to reduce inflammation is to eat healthier, with many unhealthy food causing changes to the gut’s microbiome that can cause inflammation.
This means replacing highly processed foods, sugars and refined carbs with natural fruits and vegetables.
He has called sugary cereals such as Frosted Flakes and drinks like Coca-Cola ‘poison’.
Brady cuts out sugar and white flour – two products known for inflammatory properties – but he does not stop there.
He does not eat nightshade vegetables – a class of plants that includes tomatoes, eggplants, mushrooms, peppers and potatoes.
Allen Campbell, who was previously Brady and his ex-wife Gisele Bundchen’s private chef, told Boston.com in 2016 the couple avoided the foods because they are not anti-inflammatory.
The science behind this dietary decision is questionable, though.
Nightshade vegetables contain small amounts of a chemical compound called alkaloids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
While research on nightshades and their effects on inflammation is still minimal, experts say there is no known link between tomatoes, eggplants and other similar vegetables and tissue swelling.
There are anecdotal reports that people who suffer from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis have their condition worsen when they eat tomatoes, though.
He said in his book, The TB12 Method, that he so stringently avoids inflammation because of how much of it his body already experiences.
The body becomes inflamed after intense workouts – a regular fixture for an elite athlete – and even more so after a football game where he is regularly getting hit by large men.
Brady also avoids coffee, saying in a 2016 interview that he has never even tried the popular morning brew.
This is despite coffee being known for having inflammation-busting antioxidants – with a recent study finding it is even better if mixed with milk.
While he avoids nightshades – he has praised the benefits of alkaline foods over the years.
Brady claimed in his book that the foods – which include blueberries, avocados, kale and spinach, help lower his body’s PH and keep him healthy.
He claims that this helps strengthen his bones and muscles and prevents injuries.
Around 80 percent of his calories each day come from alkaline foods, he has said in the past.
There is little science backing up these claims, though, with a 2015 study debunking this popular pseudo-science.
Another questionable part of the TB12 method is the sheer amount of water he drinks daily.
Tom Brady’s Dos
Eats an ’80-20 diet’, with 80 percent of foods being vegetables and 20 percent meat.
Drinks at least one gallon, but usually up to three gallons, of water every day.
Eats alkaline foods such as blueberries, avocados, kale and spinach for around 80 percent of his daily calories.
Uses ‘pliability’ training to keep his muscles and joints ‘soft’.
Tom Brady’s Don’ts
Avoids nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggplants as he claims they cause inflammation.
Has never drunken coffee in his life, and very rarely consumes alcohol.
Avoids all highly-processed foods. Says that these foods cause inflammation.
Does not eat any white sugar or any white flour
The lifestyle calls for people to convert their weight into ounces – then drink at least half of their water-weight daily. For a 225 pound man like Brady, this would mean drinking around one gallon a day.
He stays hyper-hydrated, though, having said many times in the past he drinks up to three gallons each day.
The quarterback also avoid alcohol – only drinking on rare occasions – as it also can dehydrate and cause inflammation.
Brady has claimed that the amount of water he drinks allows him to avoid using sunscreen – saying the water instead protects him from UV rays.
There is no science backing up these claims. But, there seems to be no overall harm to eating a diet packed full of fruits and vegetables while avoiding unhealthy, highly processed foods and alcohol.
He also makes sure to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, another habit universally recognized as healthy.
On top of questionable diet advice – some experts have raised eyebrows at his exercise regimen.
The TB12 website describes ‘muscle pliability’ as the key to Brady’s longevity and health throughout the years.
‘We use our muscles all day, every day, so naturally, they wear down — losing muscle pump function, causing soreness or stiffness, and becoming more susceptible to injury. Instead of accepting this as inevitable, we use pliability training to prime your muscles to absorb and disperse daily forces so that you can achieve more and avoid injury,’ the website says.
Brady (left) credits his longevity and success over his career to his odd, strict diet plan and his pliability muscle workouts
Brady says injury hampered him early in his career, but things changed when he met sports performance expert Alex Guerrero.
Mr Guerrero introduced Brady to pliability – where athletes can use foam rollers over their muscles, joints and ligaments to soften them.
The purported benefits of this include keeping the muscles loose, avoiding injury and helping them stay stronger, longer.
‘A foam roller can be a lifesaver,’ Brady says.
Instead of building strength, Brady instead focuses on making his muscles softer. He says this allows his body to better absorb the impact of being hit on the field.
There is no science behind pliability, though. No scientific studies have been published linking it to lower injury frequency or muscle longevity.
Experts have described the concept as nonsense.
Mr Guerrero has a checkered past too. In 2005, he was sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission for selling a dietary supplement called ‘Supreme Greens’.
On TV infomercials, he claimed the food powder could help cure cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis and Parkinson’s.