Jan. 15, 2016 -- What does Tom Brady eat to stay at the top of his game?
The NFL quarterback’s personal chef, Allen Campbell, recently gave the media a peek inside mealtimes with Brady and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen. The New England Patriots star, 38, begins his bid for a fifth Super Bowl win this weekend.
"Eighty percent of what they eat is vegetables," Campbell said. "The other 20% is lean meats: grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then, and chicken. As for fish, I mostly cook wild salmon."
Brady and Bündchen stick to a firm set of dietary rules: No white sugar. No white flour. No nightshade vegetables (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes) for Brady. Only whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and millet. And no dairy -- Brady says he eats an ice cream made from an avocado base.
Just about every columnist with a blog or media outlet has weighed in on the diet. Some have called it "uber-restrictive." Others have used words like "miserable" and "insane."
Is Brady's diet too strict? Or is it a healthy way to eat? WebMD asked two sports nutritionists for their takes on this sports superstar's eating plan.
Reasons to Eat Like Brady
Sports nutritionist Barbara Lewin, RD, LD, CSSD, has worked with NFL players and other serious athletes for over 20 years. Overall, she thinks Brady's diet is a good approach.
"This is a wonderful way to eat to stay healthy and fit and young," says Lewin, who is also the owner of Sports-Nutritionist.com.
Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RDN, CSSD, also praises aspects of the diet. "It's high in vegetables and lean protein and low in sugar," says the assistant professor of sports nutrition at Central Washington University.
Brady's way of eating is a big shift from the typical American diet. Most of us eat much more sugar, saturated fat, and refined grains than the Patriots QB does, and more than experts recommend. Let's break down his diet to see which parts are worth trying, and which are better skipped.
"I like the idea that there's a heavy focus on plant-based foods," Lewin says. “Plants contain phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that protect against disease while supporting optimal health and athletic performance.”
Vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Plus, they're low in fat and calories. A diet high in multi-colored vegetables can help control your weight, lower blood pressure, and protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The USDA's Choose MyPlate guide recommends 2 to 3 cups of veggies per day, but more never hurts.