Even if you don’t follow football, you’re surely familiar with Tom Brady. He’s a hell of an athlete, especially when you consider that he’s 42 years old, and isn’t slowing down any time soon. He absolutely deserves respect for this, and his legit skills when it comes to the game. The man’s a freight train, and the Patriots would definitely not be the same without him.
When you look at athletes like this who defy conventions and strike fear in their opponents, you have to wonder what kind of training and diet they have. They must be doing something right, yes? Well, Mr. Brady is an interesting one, because while lots of athletes come up with their own training regimes and diets, his diet has definitely caused a stir in the sports, fitness and nutrition communities.
Here’s the thing about that though – the intrigue with this diet is more about how strikingly abnormal and, to be frank, controversial and divisive nature. However, something being controversial and divisive does not make it intrinsically wrong or “bad”.
A Summary of the Diet
So, first, let’s talk about the philosophy behind Mr. Brady’s diet, and what influenced it. When you really look at the diet, it’s clearly inspired by Mediterranean diets in the foods recommended, and the focus on how vitamins and nutrients are provided. Most of the foods allowed by this diet are common to other healthy, naturally-focused diets as well.
What really stands out with Mr. Brady’s diet is more the exclusions, the strictness of said exclusions, and the management of the foods, rather than the foods themselves.
Who is this Diet For?
I don’t like to put much of a fine point on age in general. Age doesn’t, within reason, define who you are nor what you’re capable of. You’re as young as you feel, as the old bromide would say, and there’s truth to that. Just ask my 65-year-old neighbor who builds koi ponds by hand, with a shovel, on a regular basis about that.
This diet, however, definitely feels like it was made with older people in mind – those who have electrolyte balances, cholesterol and heart health in mind. That’s not to say that the young shouldn’t take these concerns seriously as well, but nonetheless, a major demographic which stands to benefit from this diet are those over 30 wishing to still compete fiercely with the newer generation. Mr. Brady manages it with gusto, and so can you.
However, the odd food-management discipline of this diet, and the foods it excludes, mean you may need to work on your discipline to stick with it.
Foods You Can Eat
So, first, let’s talk about the foods that this diet recommends. While the tastiness of any food is subjective, most of these foods are things that the vast majority of people do like. There are two recommended foods that are a bit more divisive, and I’ll try to recommend alternatives as I, being less than fond of those myself, have had to solve that problem in my own diet.
Of note with this are that the recommended foods are, if the diet is followed strictly, supposed to be completely organically, and locally-grown. More on the flaw in this later.
- Non-Acidic Fruits – While you can’t cut citric acid (vitamin C) entirely out of your diet, it is recommended that you eat fruits with a minimal amount. This is to reduce acidizing elements that cause inflammation. Bananas are fine, as it’s a reduced level, for example.
- Nuts and Seeds – Protein and antioxidants abound with nuts and seeds, as well as oils your body needs.
- Legumes – Beans, peas, and soy are rich in protein and more natural oils your body needs. They also provide a lot of fiber, which is important.
- Whole Grains – This is one of the divisive ones; a lot of people hate whole grain and wheat bread. However, whole grains can also be obtained through cooking raw, non-rolled oats and eating brown rice, which I assure you, lack that “whole grain” taste.
- Seafood – Mr. Brady recommends getting lots of omega 3 and healthy protein from seafood. If you don’t like seafood, I would say chicken (healthily-prepared) is a good alternative and an omega 3 supplement. Being one who can’t stomach seafood, I take that route myself.
Foods You Can’t Eat
Now, we have foods you can’t eat. These are where your discipline will be tested, but what diet doesn’t test you in this regard with at least one thing you really like?
- Trans and Saturated Fats – Well, you need a little bit of these, but natural foods will let your body synthesize them. Excess in these is bad for you.
- Gluten-Rich Foods – As far as science can determine, gluten is harmless. However, many people do prefer to not consume it, and there’s no harm in avoiding it.
- Salt, Caffeine, and Alcohol – These are bad for you anyhow.
- Nightshade Vegetables – Things like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes. They are acidizing, so the goal of fighting inflammation does have a point with them.
- Processed Foods – Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff not that good for you in excess processed foods, like added sweeteners. Preservatives, which are the usually-chosen villain for not eating these, however, cannot hurt you. However, fillers and sugars aren’t healthy.
- Dairy – Avoid cheese, milk, butter and the like. This may be a hard one and watch your calcium levels.
This is actually where people cite this diet being odd.
- Never eat within 3 hours of going to bed.
- Don’t mix food groups – choose one for your snack or meal.
- Only eat local, in-season foods.
What are the objective benefits?
- Reduced acidizing foods fight inflammation.
- Very heart-healthy diet.
- Eliminated the unhealthy elements of processed foods.
What are the subjective benefits?
- Many value organically-grown foods. Science hasn’t confirmed that GMOs or preservatives can harm you, but also has yet to confirm they haven’t, so if you prefer to be safe, here you go.
- Locally-grown foods do help the community and economy, and bring you closer to nature, if that’s your thing.
Cons and Science Issues
Let’s touch briefly on the scientific issues and the cons of this diet. These are being cited for journalistic integrity and to be thorough, and none of these are meant as a plea to not pursue this diet – please, try it if it sounds good to you. But here are some issues it does have.
- The strictness of exclusion of things like nightshade fruits and dairy isn’t technically necessary, as a little of these won’t harm you.
- No evidence exists to support the fears of gluten, preservatives nor GMO.
- Organic foods have not been scientifically proven to be in any way superior to traditional industrially-farmed and imported foods.
- Eating only organic and local foods is expensive, and severely limits your choices depending on location and time of year. It could actually make a balanced diet difficult depending on where you live (read: The southwestern American deserts, or the frigid deciduous northern stretches).
- There’s no science behind not mixing foods, which seems to just be more of a preference on Mr. Brady’s part, though it could help you keep track of what you’re eating more accurately.
This diet isn’t perfect, but it’s great for fighting inflammation, getting plenty of protein and electrolytes, and it’s very heart smart. It’s a little “out there” in some ways, but every diet has been regarded as such when first proposed. Give it a shot if you like the sound of it. If not, there are more vanilla diets that can help with the objective benefits at any rate.
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