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Should You Follow Tom Brady’s Nutrition Advice?

There's some solid nutrition advice here but you'll have to wade through an awful lot of woo to find it.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
September 26, 2017
Episode #447

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a football in the shape of a heart with measuring tape

NFL star Tom Brady’s book just hit the shelves accompanied by massive fanfare. The book outlines his TB12 Method, a holistic approach to training, nutrition, and lifestyle that promises to help you achieve a lifetime of sustained peak performance.  

That Tom Brady has had a long career as an elite athlete is beyond question. How much his approach to nutrition has to do with that is debatable. Although there is some good advice, most of the nutrition information in this book is just nonsensestuff that’s been circulating around the mythosphere for decades, if not longer. Brady and his team (because, let’s be clear: Brady did not write this book) recycle it all here, accompanied by the usual quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo.

“Some of these principles have been around for thousands of years,” he points out. Yup. That doesn’t make them true. Just old.

Tom Brady Reaches Peak Myth

For example, Brady advises us not to drink too much water with our meals because it interferes with digestion and “washes away the body’s natural enzymes which break down your food.” As I’ve pointed out before, this doesn’t really make sense. Some of the healthiest foods we eat, such as raw vegetables, are up to 90% water. No one worries about vegetables diluting your stomach acid or your enzymes. The body is clearly designed to digest food in the presence of water.

Although he doesn’t want you drinking water with your meals, Brady is passionate about hydration. The amount of water he suggests drinking (four to six liters a day) is far in excess of the amount of water you would need to stay hydratedunless, of course, you are currently serving on a chain gang in Death Valley.  

Brady also adds an electrolyte concentrate to every glass of water he drinks. (Don’t worry, you can buy it on his website!) Given the nutrient density of Brady’s diet, he probably gets more than enough electrolytes from his diet. However, I suppose some extra electrolytes could at least reduce the risks of over-hydration from drinking all that water.

Brady also takes issue with pale or white foods but obviously evaluating foods by color has its limitations. Onions, garlic, cauliflower, white beans, and halibut are all foods it would be a shame to avoid based on their lack of pigmentation. In fact, the humble white button mushroom contains more antioxidants than tomatoes, green peppers, pumpkins, zucchini, carrots, or green beans. 

Speaking of white foods, the TB12 method also advises that dairy products be consumed in limited quantities because they “are high in calories and lower in nutritional value than other foods.” Really? That depends on which dairy products and which nutrients you’re talking about, not to mention which other foods you’re comparing them to.

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