Tom Brady wasn’t built for football.
Stocky and a little slow at the 2000 scouting combine, the quarterback was picked up in the sixth round of the draft and promptly relegated to the Patriots bench.
Seventeen years later and about to play in his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday, 39-year-old Brady is looking at what could be one of the longest — and certainly most successful — careers in the NFL.
To hear Brady tell it, his longevity is largely thanks to his eccentric eating habits.
In late 2014, he explained his diet to Sports Illustrated as 80 percent alkaline and 20 percent acidic, which, he says, “maintain[s] balance and harmony through [his] metabolic system.”
Brady’s personal chef, Allen Campbell, broke it down further to Boston.com in January 2016: The quarterback eats 80 percent vegetables and whole grains, and 20 percent fish and lean meats, such as certain cuts of steak and duck. He doesn’t touch sugar, white flour or nightshade fruits and vegetables, which include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, potatoes and certain berries. Fat comes from extra virgin olive oil on raw foods, and coconut oil on cooked foods.
Also on the list of banned ingredients: MSG, iodized salt, coffee, fungi and dairy. He only drinks alcohol occasionally.
And while his supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen, follows the same diet — the couple’s two kids do a less-strict version — they diverge on the subject of fruit. Though his family enjoys eating it, Brady limits himself to the occasional banana, blended in a smoothie. Unbelievably, he’s never eaten a strawberry, he told New York magazine in 2016. Rather, for a treat, he’ll have cacao avocado ice cream.
Everything that touches his table must also be organic. “If it’s not organic, I don’t use it,” Campbell told Boston.com.
Brady has to eat this way if he wants to keep playing, he told New York magazine in September: “I don’t believe you could be a 39-year-old quarterback in the NFL and eat cheeseburgers every day. I want to be able to do what I love to do for a long time.”
But is his alternative eating plan as healthy as he claims?
The most baffling tenet of Brady’s regimen is his adherence to an alkaline diet, based on science that New York-based registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus calls “sketchy. Followers believe that consuming so-called “acidic” foods, such as meat and dairy, will cause the blood to become acidic and promote disease growth.