The Tom Brady Diet, also known as the TB12 Method, is a whole-foods-based diet developed by professional American football player Tom Brady.
It’s claimed to be one of the main reasons behind Brady’s longevity in the professional football world, as well as lower your risk of injury and improve athletic performance, recovery, energy levels, and overall health.
Still, many people simply follow the diet to lose weight or feel more energized. They rave about its results, though critics point out that it’s unnecessarily complex, unsustainable in the long term, and not supported by strong science.
This article reviews the pros and cons of the Tom Brady Diet to help you decide whether it may work for you.
The Tom Brady Diet was introduced by professional American football player Tom Brady in 2017 as part of his book “The TB12 Method,” which details his 12 principles for sustained peak performance.
It promises to boost your energy levels, minimize inflammation, reduce your risk of injuries, and enhance your sports performance and recovery.
The diet emphasizes eating whole, minimally processed foods and bans foods believed to be acidifying or thought to promote inflammation.
The program also covers training guidelines and promotes an array of TB12 meals, snacks, and proprietary supplements.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet is a diet and training program developed by professional American football player Tom Brady to improve energy levels, sports performance, recovery, and overall health.
The Tom Brady Diet blends the principles of the alkaline, Mediterranean, and anti-inflammatory diets and emphasizes organic, locally grown, seasonal, and minimally processed foods.
About 80% of this diet consists of organically grown fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The remaining 20% comes from grass-fed, organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free lean meats and wild-caught fish or seafood.
The Tom Brady diet offers an extensive list of foods to avoid or limit, as they’re deemed acidifying or pro-inflammatory. These include dairy, nightshade vegetables, most oils, as well as soy-, GMO-, or gluten-containing foods.
Added sugars, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, caffeine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), alcohol, and iodized salt, as well as any foods containing them, should also be avoided.
Aside from its strict food guidelines, the Tom Brady Diet has a few additional rules:
- Food combining. Fruits should not be combined with other foods. Plus, you should avoid eating high-protein foods like meat or fish together with carb-rich ones like brown rice or sweet potatoes.
- Drink a lot of fluids. You should halve your body weight in pounds and drink that many ounces of water daily. However, avoid drinking water with or around meals.
- Meal timing. You should avoid eating within three hours of going to bed.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet encourages eating minimally processed, whole foods and restricting processed ones. It recommends avoiding foods deemed inflammatory or acidifying and includes a few additional rules.
The Tom Brady Diet isn’t specifically designed or promoted as a weight loss diet. That said, it’s likely to help you lose weight for several reasons.
First, it has strict rules that limit your intake of many foods, especially processed ones, naturally reducing the number of calories you eat each day.
For instance, its food-combining rules limit which foods can be eaten together, which may also reduce the variety of foods you eat at once. This can make meals more monotonous, which research shows may help you naturally eat up to 40% fewer calories (1).
What’s more, the Tom Brady Diet is full of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and promotes drinking large amounts of water each day.
Fiber-rich diets aid weight loss, as they help you feel fuller for longer, reducing hunger and cravings. Similarly, drinking at least 50 ounces (1.5 liters) of water each day may lead to mild weight loss (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).
However, due to its strict rules, the diet and its weight loss benefits may not be sustainable long term, putting you at risk of weight regain.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet’s strict rules and high fiber and water contents work together to help you lose weight. Still, the diet may be difficult to maintain long term, increasing your likelihood of weight regain.
The Tom Brady Diet may offer several additional benefits.
May improve heart health
The Tom Brady Diet has a lot in common with the Mediterranean diet, which studies consistently link to improved heart health.
Both include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, as well as limited amounts of lean meats and fish.
May protect against other diseases
The Tom Brady Diet may also protect against type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.
The minimally processed, fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds it encourages you to eat help limit blood sugar spikes after meals, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes (19, 20, 21).
Additionally, it restricts your intake of alcohol, processed meats, added sugars, and trans fats. This may reduce inflammation in your body, which is thought to be the root cause of many illnesses (22, 23, 24, 25).
Lastly, research indicates that the whole, minimally processed foods that the diet includes may protect against health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even some types of cancer (15, 26, 27).
May improve athletic performance and recovery
Some aspects of the Tom Brady Diet may help boost athletic performance and recovery.
For instance, it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds that work together to boost your immune system and limit excess inflammation — both of which are important for optimal performance and recovery (28).
This is especially important for professional athletes, whose busy competition and travel schedules can wreak havoc on their immune systems and limit recovery opportunities (28).
Summary The Tom Brady Diet encourages adequate hydration and eating minimally processed, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich foods. This may protect against various diseases and enhance athletic performance and recovery.
Despite its potential benefits, there are several downsides associated with the Tom Brady Diet.
Not based on sound science
Many aspects of this diet are not based on strong science.
For instance, there’s no evidence that the diet’s food-combining rules offer any benefits. In fact, not combining vitamin-C-rich fruits with iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables and legumes can reduce iron absorption up to three-fold (30).
Moreover, there’s little scientific merit to avoiding certain foods due to their purported alkalizing or acidifying effects on your body. The human body tightly regulates its blood pH levels, and what you eat has little influence on this (31, 32, 33).
Similarly, there’s no science-based reason to avoid cooking oils, nightshade vegetables, caffeine, or drinking water around meals. Nor is there a scientifically-sound reason to ban gluten-containing foods from your diet unless you have a gluten intolerance.
Finally, though adequate hydration is important, there’s no evidence to suggest that the large amounts of water promoted on this diet provide any more benefits than more moderate intakes.
The Tom Brady Diet can be unnecessarily expensive.
For instance, it discourages eating conventionally grown foods, favoring organic foods instead. It also promotes certain foods, such as pink Himalayan salt and proprietary supplements, that come at a premium cost.
Similarly, evidence suggesting that pink Himalayan salt provides any significant health benefits over regular table salt is limited. In fact, table salt has the advantage of being iodized, which can help your thyroid gland function properly (36).
Finally, there’s no reason to believe that you need any of the expensive proprietary supplements promoted by this diet to lose weight or improve your health.
Contradictory and unsustainable guidelines
This diet may be unsustainable in the long term, and some of its guidelines are confusing and contradictory.
For instance, dairy is discouraged, but TB12 whey protein supplements — which are a by-product of dairy — are encouraged. What’s more, water shouldn’t be drunk around meals, but drinking protein shakes is not considered a problem.
Similarly, protein-rich foods shouldn’t be eaten with carb-rich foods. Yet, foods like beans, peas, and lentils — all of which are promoted on this diet — provide a combination of these two nutrients, making it impossible to follow this guideline.
Such arbitrary, non-science-based rules make it difficult to follow this diet in the long term.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet is unnecessarily expensive and likely difficult to follow in the long term. Moreover, many aspects of this diet are contradictory, confusing, or not based on strong science.
The Tom Brady Diet encourages you to eat the following minimally processed foods:
- Fruits and vegetables. These should be organic, non-GMO, locally grown, and seasonal. Fruits and vegetables believed to be acidifying or inflammatory should be avoided.
- Meats. Especially leaner meats, such as chicken, steak, and duck, which should be organic, grass-fed, and free of hormones and antibiotics, are encouraged.
- Fish and seafood. These must be wild-caught instead of farmed.
- Whole grains. These should be gluten-free, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth.
- Legumes. This category includes all beans, peas, and lentils, except for soybeans and products derived from them.
- TB12 products and supplements. These include whey protein powder, vegan protein bars, electrolyte mixes, nut mixes, and granola.
Around 80% of the diet should consist of plant foods, while the remaining 20% can be made up of grass-fed, organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free lean meats, and wild-caught fish or seafood.
The Tom Brady Diet also encourages you to halve your body weight in pounds and drink that many ounces of water daily.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet is mostly based on whole, minimally processed foods and includes small amounts of meat, fish, and seafood. It also encourages you to drink a lot of water each day.
The Tom Brady diet restricts your intake of the following foods:
- Gluten-containing foods. This includes bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, pastries, and wheat-flour-based foods of any kind.
- Caffeinated foods and drinks. You shouldn’t drink coffee, tea, energy drinks, soft drinks, and chocolate.
- Dairy-containing foods. These include milk, cheese, and yogurt. TB12 whey protein supplements are allowed.
- Processed grains. This category features white pasta, white bread, and white rice.
- Non-organic, non-local, or non-seasonal produce. This includes conventionally grown vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, as well as those that are imported or bought out of season.
- Factory-farmed meat and seafood. You should not eat non-organic, hormone- or antibiotic-containing meat, fish, or seafood.
- Cooking oils. Nearly all cooking oils are discouraged, except for coconut oil, which may be used for cooking, and olive oil, which can be used for salad dressings.
- Soybeans. Avoid soybeans and all foods derived from this legume, such as edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy sauce, and many processed foods containing soy-derived ingredients like soy lecithin.
- Processed foods. Candy, soft drinks, store-bought sauces, and foods containing added sugars, artificial sweeteners, MSG, or trans fats should be avoided.
- GMOs. Dieters should not eat foods that come from a genetically modified organism (GMO).
- Iodized salt. The diet discourages using this type of salt and suggests using Himalayan pink salt instead.
- Alcohol. All types of alcoholic drinks should be avoided.
In addition, the Tom Brady Diet limits your intake of tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, as these foods are thought to be acidic or inflammatory.
It also discourages drinking water with or close to meals, eating fruits together with other foods, or eating within three hours of going to bed.
You should also avoid eating high-protein foods, such as meat or fish, together with carb-rich foods like brown rice and sweet potatoes.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet eliminates non-organic, non-seasonal foods, as well as factory-farmed meat, fish, and seafood. It also restricts your intake of soy, gluten, dairy, trans fats, added sugars, cooking oils, caffeine, alcohol, iodized salt, and GMOs.
Here’s a typical 3-day menu suited for the Tom Brady Diet.
- Breakfast: chia pudding topped with almonds and coconut flakes
- Lunch: hearty vegetable-chicken soup with kale and brown rice vermicelli
- Dinner: wild salmon tacos on GMO-free corn tortilla wraps served with a side green salad
- Breakfast: homemade granola stirred into coconut yogurt
- Lunch: raw lasagna
- Dinner: lentil dahl topped with fresh spinach and served on a bed of brown rice
- Breakfast: smoothie with TB12 whey protein and fruit
- Lunch: vegetable-quinoa bowl topped with cashew sauce, lime curry, and black beans
- Dinner: steak, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
You are encouraged to drink a lot of water between meals. Plus, you can include some snacks if you wish.
Specific recipes for this diet can be found in the TB12 Nutrition Manual.
Summary The Tom Brady Diet encourages eating a variety of fresh, minimally processed foods. Recipes can be found in the TB12 Nutrition Manual.
The Tom Brady Diet promotes eating nutrient-rich, minimally processed foods and limiting processed ones.
It may aid weight loss, protect against various diseases, and boost your sports performance and recovery.
Still, it’s unnecessarily restrictive, not based on sound science, and likely difficult to maintain long term.
Thus, it puts you at a high risk of regaining the weight lost — if not more.