Published February 5th, 2021 at 6:00 AM
Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play football, will take the field for the Super Bowl Sunday in Tampa at the ripe old age of 43.
The big game will feature an NFL-record 18-year age gap between Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his Super Bowl LV competition, 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.
By now, comparisons of all sorts have been made between Brady and Mahomes, widely acknowledged as the heir to No. 12’s throne atop the NFL universe, should the GOAT ever retire.
But let’s leave advanced stats comparing the two players to the wall-to-wall Super Bowl coverage and talking heads around the globe. The thought of Brady and Mahomes going head-to-head on one of America’s most popular days for pigging out has us pondering something completely different.
How do their diets match up?
The list of foods that Brady doesn’t eat is… really long. The guy doesn’t even eat fruits and vegetables that some would force down in the name of good health.
According to Brady’s personal chef, the “TB12 Diet” does not include white sugar, white flour, MSGs, corn, soy, canola, non-raw olive oil or iodized salt. You can also forget about nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms or eggplants — because they’re not anti-inflammatory.
Brady’s no-go list also includes no coffee, no caffeine, no fungus, not much fruit and no dairy.
Word has it, though, that Brady will occasionally indulge in a spoon of guacamole ice cream — as if that’s a real thing.
If that list made you hungry, perhaps even angry, remember that Brady is just different.
“Honestly, he is one of the most buttoned-up athletes out there,” said Christina Jax, nutritionist and scientific advisor for the nutrition app Lifesum.
“Tom Brady, as always, sets the gold standard as far as discipline and determination.”
As barbecue-loving Chiefs fans mutter “yeah, whatever,” Jax noted that diets are typically a one-size-fits-one situation. Put simply, that means what works for the six-time Super Bowl champ might not work for Joe Six-pack — or Mahomes for that matter.
“When you’re younger you can kind of move through it,” Jax said. “But as you get older and older it puts you at higher risk for injury and for illness and obviously chronic disease.”
In addition to drinking 12 to 15 glasses of water a day and not eating within three hours of bedtime, Brady’s diet is 80% plant-based and about 20% lean protein. It’s also apparently extremely difficult for the average person to follow.
Earlier this year, CBS NFL writer Pete Blackburn tried the Brady diet for a week. He wrapped his diet diary with this message:
“Honestly, though, you can keep your rings, supermodel wife and hundreds of millions of dollars. None of that would make me happy if I wasn’t allowed to smash a cheeseburger into my face or shove an entire pizza down my hatch whenever I damn well please.”
As for the kid on the Chiefs side, let’s just say Mahomes doesn’t appear to be nearly as meticulous when it comes to food as his Buccaneer counterpart.
Don’t worry, Kansas City. According to Jax, Mahomes’ diet, which appears to be high in saturated fat, sugar, processed and fried foods, isn’t an issue — at least not yet.
“Twenty-five is about the age when people notice that things start to change,” Jax said. “You’re not going to have the perfect diet compared to someone who is in their 40s or 50s. But starting to create certain habit loops and really tracking your food as much as possible is a good thing.”
Mahomes has been vocal about not counting calories and fueling up with a less-than-strict diet.
In December, Postmates blog “The Receipt” turned up 170 orders from the NFL MVP since he downloaded the food delivery app in 2018.
Among Mahomes’ favorites? Prime Rib and Mashed Yukon Potatoes from Rye, Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl and the Z-Man Sandwich with fries from Joe’s Kansas City. He’s also seen routinely in those ubiquitous State Farm ads with Aaron Rodgers slathering ketchup on a slab of steak.
So what is Jax’s one piece of advice for Mahomes? Stop eating before bed.
The risks are two-fold, Jax explained.
“He ends up eating more crappy food that his body probably doesn’t need, plus food really disrupts your sleep,” she said. “Sleep and athletic performance are very much tied together.”
Before taking to Twitter to tear into Mahomes or even tease Brady, perhaps it’s worth considering what fans are getting into come Sunday.
Sports betting news site Pickswise recently polled 1,000 Americans, asking what’s on the big game menu and how much of each item do they expect to consume. The research found that the average American could consume up to 8,083 calories on Super Bowl Sunday.
Cue Brady fainting.
“One day isn’t going to make or break your whole diet and it isn’t going to make or break your whole health,” Jax said. “One day won’t make or break it as long as you get right back in the next day. The problem is when that break becomes a habit of bad choices.”
So when Monday comes around, there’s a chance to wake up like a champion. Win or lose.