If you do what everyone else does, you'll achieve the same results. That's why success means doing things differently than other people. So while it's hard to argue with New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady's success -- he's one of just two players to win five Super Bowls -- some of the things he does differently are, well, really different.
Like his diet.
Brady lays out his diet in his new book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. His way of eating could best be described as an anti-inflammatory diet, which in general terms is a diet rich in fiber that helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory nutrients: mostly whole grains and certain -- but not all -- fruits and vegetables.
"The regimen I follow is a mix of Eastern and Western philosophies," Brady writes in the book. "Some of these principles have been around for thousands of years. My nutritional regimen may seem restrictive to some people, but to me it feels unnatural to eat any other way. Many people have conditioned their bodies to a nutritional regiment made up of lots of white or pale-looking foods --french fries, potato chips, white bread, chicken nuggets--that don't exist in nature."
Can't argue with that. But let's check out what it means in practice.
Let's start with water. Brady feels that everyone, not just athletes, needs to drink at least half their body weight in ounces of water every day. Brady weighs 225 pounds; that means he needs 112 ounces of water a day. I weigh 170, so I need 85 ounces of water. (He also drinks purified water, and often adds electrolytes.)
But that's just a recommendation. Brady says he often drinks up to 25 glasses of water a day.
But he doesn't drink any water 30 minutes before a meal, and waits an hour after a meal, because he feels that taking in water during that time frame impairs digestion and absorption.
Which means he's pretty much chugging water during all the other hours of the day.
That process starts when he wakes up; he immediately drinks 20 ounces of water (infused with electrolytes). Then he drinks a smoothie, typically containing ingredients such as bananas, nuts, blueberries, seeds -- the usual healthy suspects.
During and after workouts, he drinks more electrolyte-infused water, and then has a post-workout protein shake. (That's the first thing my diet and Tom's has in common.)
For lunch, he eats fish and vegetables. But he makes sure not to combine protein with starches like potatoes or bread. And he never eats foods with white flour or white sugar -- which makes sense, since avoiding "white" foods is an easy way to make your diet healthier -- as well as iodized salt, MSG, dairy, or "nightshades" like tomatoes and peppers. And he rarely eats white rice, bread, pineapples, cold cut meats, or yogurt.
The goal is to focus on consuming alkalizing foods, which decrease inflammation.
(An alkaline diet helps balance the pH level of body fluids, including blood and urine. Your pH is partly determined by the mineral density of the foods you eat. Research shows an alkaline diet can help reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and low bone density, among other things.)
Dinner is vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables. For snacks, Brady likes fruit, as well as protein bars and protein shakes.
And as for dessert, well, dessert isn't on the menu.
And he doesn't care.
"I enjoy how I eat, and what I eat," Brady writes, "and never feel like I'm missing out."
Successful people find joy -- or at least contentment -- in the process. Successful people do the right things, day after day, because they work. That's reason enough to stay the course.
So if it works for Tom, that's all that matters.
Find what works for you -- and make that all that matters.
Some of my other posts on diet and fitness: