The Tom Brady Diet is a special diet developed by 7-time NFL Champion Tom Brady. He claims this unique diet is one of the keys to his unrivaled success and athletic longevity. In this article, you will learn some of the key guidelines for his unique nutrition program.
Tom Brady’s Resume
Tom Brady played college football at the University of Michigan, one of the top programs in the country. However, he was not a highly rated prospect coming out of college.
The New England Patriots selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, with the 199th overall selection. Brady began the 2000 season as the fourth quarterback for the Patriots.
He moved up the depth chart quickly and became the backup to starter Drew Bledsoe by the end of his rookie year. When Bledsoe got hurt the following season, Brady became the starter, and he never looked back.
Today, Brady is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all-time. His unrivaled NFL resume includes the following achievements and records, among many others: 1
- Most Super Bowl Appearances: 10
- Most Super Bowl Championships: 7
- Most NFL playoff wins: 34
- Most games won (playoffs and regular season combined) by a quarterback: 264
- Most touchdowns thrown (playoffs and regular season combined) by a quarterback: 664
- Most passing yards (playoffs and regular season combined) by a quarterback: 91,653
- Oldest player to win NFL MVP (at the age of 40)
The average NFL quarterback only plays for three seasons. 2 However, Brady continues to defy the odds by playing at an extremely high level well into his 40s.
After 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. Then, in his first season with his new team (at the age of 43), he threw for 40 touchdowns and over 4,600 passing yards, while only throwing 12 interceptions. He also led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl.
Habits (Not Talent) Propelled Tom Brady to Greatness
Brady does not consider himself to be a “natural” athlete. Instead, he attributes much of his success and his athletic longevity to his habits and to his unique wellness and training program, which he refers to as the TB12 Method.
In 2017, Brady published a book about his approach. It’s titled The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. In the book, Brady shares his philosophies on a variety of topics, including training and exercise, sleep and recovery, and nutrition.
3 Guidelines for The Tom Brady Diet
When it comes to nutrition, Brady is extremely meticulous. “The principle behind my eating habits is simple: I want to eat food in ways that maximize its nutritional value,” he writes in The TB12 Method. 3
Here are three of the top guidelines for The Tom Brady Diet:
1. Drink a lot of water (and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and artificial beverages as much as possible).
Proper hydration is essential if you want to look, feel, and perform your best. Dehydration leads to all kinds of physical and mental problems.
Brady recommends that everyone, even people who are not athletes, drink at least one-half of their body weight in ounces of water every day. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, that would be at least 100 ounces of water throughout each day.
The bigger and more active that you are, the more water that you need to drink. Brady weighs 225 pounds, and he drinks between 200-300 ounces of water on especially active days. He also recommends adding electrolytes to your water as much as possible.
Brady rarely drinks alcohol anymore. He also avoids caffeine, soda, artificial sports/energy drinks, and dairy. Besides water, he recommends unsweetened coconut water, almond milk, or coconut milk as beverage options.
Note: Check out this article to learn why drinking liquid calories is the worst eating habit.
2. Eat real foods (and avoid processed foods) as much as possible.
Most foods in supermarkets these days are heavily processed and pumped full of additives, preservatives, and chemicals in order to extend shelf life or improve taste. Our bodies and brains were simply not designed to consume many of the artificial foods that are easily accessible these days.
Brady recommends eating real foods that come from nature as much as possible. He eats fresh, organic, and local as much as he can. Local foods will be higher in nutrients than foods that were shipped from hundreds of miles away and are therefore not as fresh.
3. Eat mostly vegetables.
Vegetables are very nutrient-dense. They are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they keep you fuller longer, and they are low in calories.
While Brady is not a vegan or vegetarian, he recommends eating mostly vegetables. He tries to eat a lot of them at every meal. They make up most of what he eats each day.
About 80% of Brady’s plate for a meal is vegetables and other plant-based foods, like beans or quinoa. Animal protein only makes up about 20% of his plate at a typical meal.
When he does eat meat and poultry, he eats organic, grass-fed, free-range, and hormone-free. As for fish, he eats wild, not farm-raised.
Note: Check out this article to learn how to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like on the Tom Brady Diet?
Beginning with breakfast, Brady typically has 3-4 protein shakes each day. These drinks include protein powder (he has his own line of supplements), plus almond milk or another dairy-free alternative. His breakfast shake also includes nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit.
In addition to his shakes, Brady will typically also have a nutrient-dense lunch and dinner. Each of those meals will be mostly (about 80%) vegetables and other plant-based foods. A healthy protein source like wild salmon or grass-fed beef generally makes up the remaining 20% of his plate at lunch and dinner.
Brady never goes too long without eating. He will occasionally snack on fresh fruit, seeds, or nuts in between his shakes and meals. He typically aims to finish a meal when he is about 75% full, and he also avoids eating for several hours before bed.
In addition to protein powder, his daily supplements also include a multivitamin, a vitamin B complex, vitamin D, an antioxidant, essential fish oils, and probiotics.
Note: Check out this article for my recommendations on nutritional supplements. (They are pretty similar to what Brady advocates.)
What is on Tom Brady’s Grocery List?
The Tom Brady Diet recommends the following foods:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits (preferably organic, local, and seasonal)
- Fresh spices and herbs (i.e. basil, cinnamon, oregano, parsley, rosemary)
- Natural canned/jarred foods (i.e. capers, natural nut butters, crushed tomatoes)
- Nuts and seeds (i.e. almonds, chia seeds, walnuts)
- Natural high-fiber carbs (i.e. beans, lentils, quinoa)
- Healthy oils (i.e. coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil)
- Natural condiments (i.e. balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salsa)
- Organic meat, poultry, and fish (i.e. grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs, wild salmon, skinless chicken)
Most nutritionists would endorse all of the foods listed above.
What is NOT on Tom Brady’s Grocery List?
The Tom Brady Diet recommends reducing or eliminating the following:
- Processed foods (i.e. breads, candy, cereals, chips, crackers)
- Processed, low-quality poultry, meat, and beef
- Farm-raised fish
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese)
While there are differing opinions on dairy, most nutritionists would agree that you should restrict the other foods above as much as possible.
Summary and Final Thoughts on the Tom Brady Diet
In spite of not being a “natural” athlete, Tom Brady became the greatest quarterback of all-time. His eating habits are one of the keys to his success and his athletic longevity. As a recap, here are three of Brady’s top nutritional guidelines:
- Drink a lot of water (and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and artificial beverages as much as possible).
- Eat real foods (and avoid processed foods) as much as possible.
- Eat mostly vegetables.
Brady describes his diet when he was younger as “horrible.” 4 He drank a lot of alcohol and soda, he ate lots of processed foods, and he ate few vegetables. These days, he clearly eats very differently.
Brady did not just flip a switch one day and overhaul his diet at one time. He improved his eating habits slowly and over time.
One reason why fad diets don’t work is because they are too abrupt. A smarter approach is to focus on improving your eating habits gradually. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
- Replace one or more of your drinks each day with water.
- Add more vegetables to one or more of your meals.
- Replace processed foods with real foods at one or more of your meals.
The better that you eat, the better that you will look, feel, and perform. As Brady writes in The TB12 Method, “Eating healthy is an investment I make in myself. We all have one body and one life. I’ve made it a priority to treat that body and life as respectfully as possible.” 5
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and executive recruiter, and his work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com. His latest book is titled Work Stronger: Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work.
References for this article
- Tom Brady. The TB12 Method; How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017.