Snicker all you want about the avocado ice cream, the kale shakes, the bone broth.
Twenty-five glasses of water a day too much for you?
Not convinced that almond milk is any better for you than 2 percent?
Think what you like, but for Tom Brady, eating right and exercising his body and his mind are as essential to his success as five-step drops and seam routes that break apart a zone defense.
Brady, named the league MVP on Saturday, is one win away from becoming the first player in NFL history to capture a sixth Super Bowl title, and the first to win a Lombardi Trophy at age 40. And the Patriots’ quarterback, arguably the greatest player in NFL history and perhaps even in pro sports history, believes that his regimen of eating right, training right and relaxing right are indispensable to his success and longevity.
Who are we to tell him he’s wrong?
“I need to invest in the things that are going to help me feel good, or else I would have stopped playing 10 years ago,” said Brady, who will make his eighth Super Bowl appearance when the Patriots face the Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Sunday. “I don’t think there’s any way you continue to play unless your body can do it. I try to eat well, try to hydrate well, try to get the right amount of rest, the right mental balance. This is what I do, and I can see the results and how it reinforces my beliefs.”
Brady is maniacal in his preparations, and his love of the sport shows no signs of diminishing, even after 17 seasons as an NFL starter. In a sport that regularly churns up even its greatest performers at a much younger age, Brady’s longevity can be directly related to the lifestyle changes he has made along the way — changes that have at times invited skepticism.
Brady gets it. Waking up and immediately drinking 20 ounces of water with electrolytes isn’t for everyone. Nor is drinking 25 glasses of water daily — and only at specified times, as he writes in his recently released book, “The TB12 Method.” Lots of salmon, chicken burgers, avocados and greens, some pasta (but made only from brown rice flour) and lots of protein shakes and smoothies.
“Typically, [a smoothie] contains blueberries, bananas, seeds and nuts,” he writes. “It’s nutrient dense, high in fat, high in protein and high in calories.”
The exercise routine has changed over the years, too. In fact, 90 percent of his workouts use resistance bands to increase his flexibility and enhance range of motion.
It’s all a part of a routine to extend Brady’s career beyond conventional limits. He already is in uncharted territory in terms of championships, and he still is intent on playing into his mid-40s.
“When I think about the things I ate when I was little, I can understand why I was a late bloomer,” he said. “Some of the stuff, it was terrible. It’s just not what I would do today. I’ve learned, I’ve grown in different ways. My body is very important. Your body and how your body can handle the rigors of training is very important.”
Brady decided more than a decade ago that to live out his dream of playing for more than 20 years, he needed to make sweeping changes in his physical and mental approach to the game.
“I don’t think there’s any way you continue to play unless your body can do it,” he said. “To me, it’s common sense. It’s just such a part of my routine. It’s so easy for me to do now because I’ve been doing it for so long.”
Even Brady’s 30-minute car rides to and from practice have become part of his holistic approach to the game.
“[The mental aspect of football] can be challenging. Obviously, my mind races a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of things that I’m thinking about. For me, I’ve learned the car ride home is a great time — 30 minutes of time — where I can listen to music and find a good space for me to be in for the day. Whether that’s driving in to work in the morning — or I can think about things I need to do, I want to do. And leaving practice, after you’ve expended a lot of energy, to find a good balance to deal with things at home. Music is a great thing for me. That’s probably what I do most. And then I try to, at night, make sure I get a little quiet time before I go to bed.”
His musical tastes are eclectic, running from Jay-Z to Pearl Jam to Kendrick Lamar and U2.
It’s all a part of the process that, in addition to his obvious physical gifts, has contributed to his brilliance.
“I just love the game,” he said. “It’s easy to do this when you love it. The point is, you find something that you love to do, and it never feels like work. I found football at a young age. I just always loved it. I love the preparation, I love the offseason, I love the film work. And I think a big part of it is because my body feels good and I’ve worked hard at trying to find a routine so that when I wake up in the morning, I’m excited about going to practice because I know my body will respond.”
Brady has missed time because of injury only once (knee surgery in 2008), and playing through soreness in previous years convinced him to find a way to be as pain-free as possible. He has found that way, his own fountain of youth.
“I think for a lot of older players, their body doesn’t respond,” he said. “Football is no fun when you’re hurting. The injuries that I’ve dealt with over the course of certain seasons, that’s not fun because I was hurting. I ran out there in practice, it hurt. For me, understanding what I need to feel good has been so important for me to continue my career.”
For a man who eats, drinks and sleeps football, Brady’s lifestyle adaptation is a driving force behind getting him this far. And keeping him going long into the future. As long as his heart desires.