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8 diet and lifestyle rules Tom Brady followed to stay healthy and dominate the NFL for 22 years

4 min read

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  • Tom Brady has said alternative medicine and his strict lifestyle were reasons for his NFL success.

  • Brady followed one of the most intense wellness routines of anyone in professional sports.

  • Now that he’s retired, he might finally get to enjoy some dessert with family for once.

Brady went to bed at 8:30 PM every night to ensure 9 hours of sleep.

Tom Brady sleeping

Tom Brady posed as if he was sleeping on a bed in an advertisement for Under Armour pajamas in February 2020.photo courtesy of Under Armor

Brady’s day usually started before the sun was even up, especially during the football season when he played in New England.

He woke up at 5:30 AM every day to make sure he got all of his meals and morning exercise done before having to get into the meat of the day.

But sleep was still very important to Tom Brady’s rhythm, he detailed in the 2017 book, “The TB12 Method.” He aimed to get at least nine hours of sleep per night, so he went to bed at 8:30 PM to make sure he could wake up on time and well-rested.

Brady started every day with a smoothie that contained 36 grams of protein.

Tom Brady smoothie

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Brady showed off his favorite breakfast smoothie recipe on social media during his final season in 2021, and it contained more protein than most people might have in their dinners.

The recipe included almond butter, raw walnuts, and a cup of whey protein for good measure.

He said he drank more than two gallons of water per day.

Tom Brady water

Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Brady previously told Forbes that he drinks up to 37 cups of water every day, which equals 2.3 gallons.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that men should consume about 125 ounces of fluids per day, while women need around 91 fluid ounces, but some individuals will need more than that based on their level of physical activity and protein consumption.

For Brady, who is an active NFL player on a high-protein diet, that much water is necessary to stay hydrated, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Brady had tissue pliability therapy every day, and some times twice a day.

Tom Brady TB12 massage

Tom Brady receives one of his daily massages from his longtime body coach Alex Guerrero in a scene from the 2017 documentary “Tom vs. Time.”Tom vs Time / Facebook

Brady’s long-time body coach Alex Guerrero taught Brady the importance of tissue pliability when they started working together in 2005. Tissue pliability measures the resilience of muscles, which is said to help them operate more efficiently and avoid damage, according to WebMD.

Guerrero told NBC Sports he used manual therapy techniques to improve Brady’s tissue pliability like foam rolling, massages, and stretching routines at least once per day, and oftentimes twice per day.

Brady earmarked several food groups as completely off-limits, including dairy, sugar, gluten, refined carbs, caffeine, and processed meats.

People grabbing pizza slices.

Although some might be most familiar with New York-style or deep-dish, there are a wide variety of pizza types.Eric Savage/Getty Images

Brady avoided foods that are known to cause inflammation, which is known to increase the risk of injury and organ damage, according to WebMD.

Brady said one of the toughest parts of that commitment was missing out on special meals with his family, especially on holidays, he said on the Sirius XM podcast “Let’s Go!”

Brady avoided produce like strawberries, tomatoes, and eggplants.

close up of roasted tomatoes on parchment

Victority/Getty Images

Brady avoided all fruits and vegetables that came from the “nightshade” family of plants.

Nightshade plants include tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers, and are different because they contain lower amounts of alkaloids, which are anti-inflammatory, than other fruits and vegetables, according to WebMD.

Brady ate 80% vegan, but 20% of his meals were organic meat.

Some quinoa surrounded by vegetables and other items.

VICUSCHKA/Shutterstock

Brady’s diet structure was based around meals that contained 80% plant-based foods like vegetables and grains, and 20% organic lean protein like wild-caught fish or pasture-raised chicken.

This approach is known to garner many of the health benefits associated with veganism, including improvements to gut health, reduced inflammation, and lowered risk of certain diseases. But it also allows for just enough meat for someone to have a dependable source of lean protein.

Brady’s dessert came with a bitter twist.

Dark chocolate against a wood background.

Dark chocolate is known to contain flavonols, which reportedly can reduce inflammation.Marina Shanti/Shutterstock

Brady did find ways to indulge, albeit within the limits of his diet. On game days, he treated himself to a square of chocolate for dessert, but it had to be 100% cacao.

Dark chocolate has reported health benefits — it contains a strong concentration of cocoa beans, which are filled with flavonols. Flavonols can help with, inflammation reduction, lowering cholesterol, and increased blood flow throughout the body.

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