They say age is just a number, like touchdown passes, wins, or Super Bowl rings. Of all the stats that tell the story of number 12, his age is the most mystifying.
Tom Brady, who is 39 years old, is the fourth oldest player in the NFL, and yet his body hasn’t shown the typical signs of breakdown, even having played two extra seasons worth of playoff games.
The climb up this mountain has no shortcuts, and there’s no fountain of youth along the way.
“So much of it is being proactive. It’s not waiting to get sick. It’s not waiting to get injured,” Brady said.
It’s just diet and exercise. You’ve heard those words before, but this regimen has very specific guidelines meant to reduce inflammation in the body and sustain peak performance.
Brady is on a mostly plant-based diet with 80 percent of his calories coming from veggies and whole grains, while 20 percent comes from lean meats.
So far, so good, according to registered dietitian Jean Bigaouette.
“Eating the majority of your food as vegetables is very, very healthy,” Bigaouette said.
The hard part is Brady cannot have any caffeine, so throw out that coffee when you go grocery shopping. He also has to stay away from white sugar, flour, dairy, gluten, MSG, and iodized salt.
Just when you think you’re safe in the produce section, no way. He doesn’t eat fruit except for the occasional banana and no nightshade vegetables either. Brady doesn’t eat peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes because he says they cause inflammation.
“I think that has to be determined on an individual basis. I don’t think that across the board eating tomatoes makes you swell up,” Bigaouette said.
Bigaouette says it’s not very good to exclude fruit.
“I think dairy is a good thing to keep in our diet.”
This diet obviously works for Brady. If you’re looking to shed some pounds, Bigaouette says you’ll likely have more success making small changes.
“You have to figure out what works for you. You can’t just use someone else’s diet.”
Brady says his workout key is in complementing traditional strength and conditioning training with muscle pliability in order to create muscles that are softer, longer and more resilient.
“A long muscle is a muscle that has full range,” CrossFit Coach Shane Healy said. “Imagine if Tom Brady went to throw a football and this was his range. We want a long muscle, so he needs to be able to extend back with the football. The goal is full range of motion and that full range allows for better length, sustainability and safety.”
That’s the goal. The process is not for Brady anyway.
“I think lifting heavy weights is fantastic for building strength, but strength without being able to move efficiently and properly is worthless.”
There are exercises that could benefit all of us, not just elite athletes.
“Things happen in life and you want to train for the unexpected,” Healy said. “You never know when you’re gonna slip on ice. You never know when something’s gonna fall, you might move too quick.”
That is much more likely than any of us being signed by the Patriots.