Tom Brady was a 199th NFL draft pick. The skinny kid nobody wanted on their team. He was passed over by every single team in the NFL and nobody thought he’d amount to anything. That was in 2000. 17 years later he’s the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time. He’s won five Super Bowls and racked up enough passing yards to give a statistician night sweats. The 12-time NFL Pro-Bowler lays a lot of the credit for that whip-snapping turnaround at the feet of his diet.
Brady eats what you could call the weirdest diet in the NFL. For starters, he drinks pond scum. He has never eaten a strawberry and he won’t touch tomatoes, coffee or bread. He stays away from all dairy products and he won’t touch alcohol. Is he nuts? Dozens of nutritionists say many of his food philosophies are baseless. Others say you can’t take a single case of one guy and say it proves eating weird foods makes you a superstar. It’s kind of like saying less people get killed in skiing accidents after eating ice cream. That doesn’t mean ice cream prevents wipeouts. It means nobody likes frozen food in the snow. Still, it’s hard to argue with Brady’s results. He’s been tackled over 400 times in his career by people who average 240 lbs each, yet he’s rarely injured. At 39 he is far and away at the top of a league dominated by over a thousand top athletes from all over the country. Asked recently if he’ll retire now, Brady said, “Hell no.” Could you match Brady’s digestive dedication? Read on and find out.
15 He Drinks Pond Scum
As part of his belief in supplementing his fully plant-based diet, Tom Brady takes a “green supplement” packed with Spirulina. You and I know it as “pond scum,” and if you’ve ever tried it you know it tastes like the bottom of a fish tank. Spirulina is a kind of blue-green algae. It’s a spiral-shaped multi-celled plant that grows on the surface of freshwater ponds. Classed as a superfood, it’s packed with more protein than red meat. It’s also chock full of potassium, calcium, B-vitamins and beta-carotene. According to health food guru Dr. Axe, it also detoxes the body, fights AIDS, prevents cancer and improves sinus issues. Sounds crazy but it’s actually backed up by research conducted by the University of Maryland. Hmmm, maybe it’s worth giving it a try? Despite the aroma of crayfish feet with subtle overtones of French-kissing a bullfrog, most people would drink anything to be more like Brady.
14 He Eats Lentil Buckwheat Footballs
So what does the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time eat to power up before a big game? How about lentil buckwheat footballs? Sound like the dinner of champions? Brady’s longtime chef Allen Campbell says he made that dish for Tom and Gisele before a recent NFL game. If that has you remembering Yoda in Empire Strikes Back saying, “How you get so big eating food of this kind?” you’re not alone. It’s a lot easier to picture an NFL legend tearing into a steak like something the Flintstones would shy away from than food that looks like it’s on its second lap through the system. Still, according to Livestrong.com lentils are high in fiber, iron and may prevent chronic illness. Buckwheat is full of vitamins too and has been found to lower cholesterol and prevent diabetes. It’s also packed with protein, it’s gluten free and it’s considered non-allergenic. That said, it’s no wonder that when Brady’s dad comes over, he likes to ask after they eat, “So where are we going for dinner?”
13 He Thinks Coca Cola is Poison
Tom Brady told a local radio show host that Coca Cola is “poison for kids.” Says Tom: “You'll probably go out and drink Coca Cola and think, 'Oh yeah, that's no problem.' Why? Because they pay lots of money for advertisements you think that you should drink Coca-Cola for a living. No, I totally disagree with that. And when people do that, I think that's quackery. And the fact that they can sell that to kids? I mean, that's poison for kids. But they keep doing it.” Coca Cola responded in a press release that all their beverages are not only safe, but also part of a balanced lifestyle. Medical science may disagree. There is certainly no shortage of studies lambasting sugary soda as a contributor to health problems like obesity and diabetes. In fact NYU’s Marion Nestle points out an indisputable link between soda and obesity. With 20% of all kids classed as obese and obesity killing 300,0000 Americans per year, maybe Brady has a point?
12 Tom Brady Has Never Had a Strawberry
The legendary New England Patriots quarterback has never eaten a strawberry in his life. Not ever. Not even as a toddler growing up in sunny California. How the heck is that possible, let alone sensible? Of course the guy doesn’t drink alcohol, eat Ring Dings or pound funnel cake at the fair. But strawberries? They’re delicious, full of anti-oxidants and thought to prevent cancer. So what’s Tom’s problem with them, other than being a popular cash crop in New York State, which is also the home state of ogreish NFL commissioner Roger Goodell? Though there are dozens if not hundreds of articles online repeating Brady’s quote that “I’ve never eaten a strawberry in my life,” not one of them explains his reasoning. It’s entirely possible that the original interviewer misunderstood the GOAT and what he really said was, “bird-eating tarantula.”
11 He Has Never Tried Coffee
Come on Tom, just a sip. It’ll peel your eyelids back. It’ll give you a direct line to upper management in the spirituality of your choice. It was originally discovered by mystical Ethiopian goat-herders. Studies have shown it can actually prolong life and stave off Parkinson’s disease, not to mention that it goes great with whiskey. Nope. Tom Brady isn’t interested. He says he’s never tried it and he’s not interested in trying it. Naturally, Dunkin’ Donuts celebrates his aversion to the oily black drink by giving it away free whenever he wins a big game. Brady may not be totally crazy though. Anything that gives you a headache when you ignore it for a few days should raise your neck hairs. Also, Harvard Health says coffee is safe “in moderation,” but it’s also addictive, raises blood pressure and can chip in to an irregular heartbeat. Plus, what if a rival coach paid Starbucks to serve Brady decaf just before a big game? That’s just one more scenario the sports star doesn’t have to sweat.
10 Brady’s Diet is Based on Work by “Quack” Doctor Alex Guerrero
Most of Tom Brady’s diet rules come from a guy named Alex Guerrero, a guy Boston.com says faked being a doctor. The pseudo-doc also got nailed by the Federal Trade Commission for claiming his supplements could cure cancer. At the hub of the quackery claims is a fake clinical study of 200 patients diagnosed as terminally ill, with 192 of them miraculously alive eight years later thanks to Guerrero’s “Supreme Greens” supplement. The only problem is that the study never existed. The FTC banned Guerrero from calling himself a doctor and from making health claims about Supreme Greens or similar products. For all that, Brady trusts the man quite literally with his life, so much so that Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman compered him to Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. Despite his reputation as a charlatan, he’s the man responsible for Brady’s dietary beliefs and could quite possibly be behind the 39 year-old’s eye-popping success.
9 Diet Helped Brady Recover from a Career-Ending Injury
In 2008 Tom Brady suffered what should have been a career-ending blow. In a game against Kansas City, the Pats QB got slammed in the left knee and was carried off the field. Brady’s ACL tore in half, requiring reconstructive surgery. Complications left the player with a persistent staph infection, bedridden on IV antibiotics. A few months later, Brady’s doctor said, “I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” In a 2016 interview with WEEI Boston, Brady said, “I had doctors with the highest and best education in our country tell us — tell me — that I wouldn’t be able to play football again [after his 2007 ACL injury], that I would need multiple surgeries on my knee from my staph infection, that I would need a new ACL, a new MCL, that I wouldn’t be able to play with my kids when I’m older. Of course I go back the next year and we win Comeback Player of the Year. I follow the next season and we win the MVP of the year." Brady says his miraculous recovery is all down to his diet.
8 No Sugar, Ever
Who doesn’t love cake, cookies, soda, candy bars and of course pie? Tom Brady, that’s who. Refined sugar never passes his lips. Of course he eats sugar in the form of the bananas and blueberries he occasionally adds to his smoothies. But Brady himself sees sugar like most people see bath salts. In fact his personal chef calls sugar “the death of people.” Science has Tom’s back on this one. Most table sugar turns straight into fat in the human body. It’s devoid of vitamins, it hurts the liver, pumps up bad cholesterol levels and promotes diabetes. Sugar consumption is the basis of America’s obesity epidemic and causes heart disease and diabetes. It also leaves you feeling hungry and it’s eight times more addictive than cocaine. It’s no wonder American statesman Ezra Taft Benson called us an overfed, undernourished nation, digging our graves with our teeth. In case you’re wondering, Benson lived to 105.
7 No Bread, Ever
Not only does Brady not eat any bread, he doesn’t eat anything made with any flour or gluten at all. That includes cake and cookies naturally but also pasta, crackers, barley and rye. That means you won’t see the guy eating a sandwich, ever, because there’d be nothing there to hold the ham and lettuce from falling to the floor, and never mind that he would never eat ham either. According to most nutritionists, there’s no reason for anyone who doesn’t have celiac disease or a specific sensitivity to avoid gluten. In fact, whole-grain wheat is so chock-full of essential nutrients that cultures that use it as a basis for nourishment see rapid improvements in a host of diseases from anemia and gallstones to chronic inflammation and breast cancer. Too much of a good thing can contribute to health problems though. Since wheat is packed with simple carbs, it’s easily converted to sugar and then fat in the blood stream. Maybe this is why you never see Tom brushing cracker crumbs off his belly?
6 No Milk, Cheese, Yogurt Ever
At this point most of us are wondering, what the heck does Tom Brady eat? The answer is: not cheese, not yogurt and not milk. While the drink may “do a body good” as the persistent ad campaign asserts, it doesn’t do Tom Brady any good at all. He does like ice cream on occasion, but to paraphrase Spock, “It’s ice cream Jim, but not as we know it.” No, Tom Brady’s ice cream isn’t made from cream at all but from delicious, healthy avocados. Mmm, creamy. The recipe combines avocados, coconut meat, cashews, dates, cacao powder and — wait, cacao powder? Somebody tell Brady that’s loaded with caffeine, quick! Dear God, what’s next, he accidentally eats a strawberry? But yep, that’s the actual recipe, taken from a Pats fan on Reddit who bought Tom’s $200 “It’s not a cookbook!” nutrition guide.
5 No Carbo Loading
Carbo-loading is a tried and tested strategy used by athletes for generations to up their energy on game day. The idea is that your body has a gas tank called its glycogen reserve. Without putting on a white lab coat and Lyndon Johnson glasses, that’s basically stored sugar, and once it’s gone, you’re headed for the sidelines to read Cosmo and eat bonbons. Marathon runners and major league sports stars alike pump up their glycogen gas tank by eating massive amounts of pasta, bread and other simple carbs the day before a big event. Brady’s chef reveals a different strategy for the NFL legend. Instead of powering up at dinner time on Saturday, Tom Brady and his wife Gisele make lunch their biggest meal of the day, eating relatively little for dinner. The idea there is that it’s not good to go to bed on a full stomach. Combine it with the way he groups refined flour in the same category as vampirism and being a Bills fan and you’ve got a no-carbs approach to being basically superhuman.
4 Very Little Meat
What’s it take to be the greatest of all time? For one thing, lots of muscle. What’s muscle made of? Protein! What’s the biggest readily-available source of concentrated protein on the planet? Meat! What makes up 80% of Tom Brady’s diet! Vegetables! Brady eats a mostly vegetarian diet with small amounts of lean meat like chicken, beef and the occasional duck entree. He eats a small amount of fish as well. If we hadn’t seen a five-time Super Bowl champ made mostly of vegetable matter we’d never have believed it. Is Tom sneaking cheeseburgers while Gisele’s doing extreme pilates in the other room? Not on your life. In fact Brady almost never touches a cheeseburger. According to the World Health Organization, there’s a definite link between processed meat and cancer and a “probable” link between regular red meat and cancer, so maybe Tom’s on-point here as well.
3 Only Fish is Wild-Caught Salmon
According to Brady’s in-home chef, Tom and Gisele eat only wild-caught salmon when it comes to fish. That means no shrimp cocktail, no crab cakes, no lobster, no grilled swordfish at Outback and no bottlenose dolphin soufflé. There’s medical evidence backing up this choice as well. The problem isn’t that fish are inherently unhealthy. In fact the opposite is true. Fish are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Those are essential for brain health and good for the cardiovascular system. The problem with fish is what we’ve done to the oceans. Our oceans have high levels of mercury and they build up in small fish. When big fish eat lots of smaller fish they get more mercury, and even bigger fish get even more. Gigantic fishies like 800 lb tuna have the most mercury of all, so relatively small fish like salmon, mackerel and herring are thought to be the safest. Wild-caught is usually a plus since those fish don’t live in she shallows where we like to dump wastes.
2 No Tomatoes for Tom
For centuries tomatoes were thought to be deadly poisonous. The idea was that tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are all members of the nightshade family along with the highly toxic belladonna. While people with specific allergies to tomatoes should of course avoid them, they’re not considered harmful to anyone else. Tomatoes are thought to be a very healthy food choice, mostly thanks to their high levels of lycopene. That’s a vitamin that’s been proven to cut cancer risk and boost cardiovascular health. Shockingly, tomatoes do contain trace amounts of poisons like tomatine and atropine. Eating large amounts of tomatoes may actually cause health problems. Along with avoiding tomatoes, Brady shuns eggplants and peppers. We’d guess he won’t be dining with the Corleone family any time soon.
1 Only Himalayan Pink Salt
The final weird Brady diet fact on our list is his fear of iodized salt. According to Brady’s chef, the superstar never eats that condiment. Why not? According to health guru Dr. Weil, we need trace amounts of iodine to survive, yet people didn’t historically get enough. Iodized salt was marketed in the 1920s in an effort to combat this problem. While there’s nothing wrong with that per se, unfortunately many companies don’t stop at adding just iodine. They also toss in a pinch of aluminum powder to stop the salt from caking up in the shaker. Aluminum is a potent neurotoxin and even tiny amounts of it build up in the brain over the years, contributing heavily to Alzheimer’s disease. So what’s with the Himalayas, and why pink? Unlike white processed table salt, Himalayan pink salt is chock-full of other nutrients and isn’t chemically processed or refined. Touchdown Brady. Again.
Sources: University of Maryland; NFL.