- Tom Brady said he follows the 80/20 rule, meaning 80% of his plate is plant based and 20% is meat.
- This is one of Brady’s lifestyle habits that have allowed him to play in the NFL at the age of 44.
- Nutritionists say that following the 80/20 rule might be even healthier than being fully vegan.
Tom Brady follows the 80/20 rule — meaning 80% of his dish is plant based, made up of vegetables or rice and grains, and the other 20% is made up of lean protein, like fish or chicken.
Brady, who is leading the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns at the age of 44, says the diet helps him stay fit as he gets older, according to a post from his wellness brand, TB12.
Veganism is known to offer health benefits like improvements to gut health, reduced inflammation, and lowered risk of certain diseases, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
But it can cause complications as well. For one, it makes getting dependable sources of protein more difficult, and it can deprive the body of nutrients like calcium and iron. One study published in September 2019 found that vegetarians might be at a higher risk of stroke.
Brady’s strategy of adding 20% meat and fish into his diet is one effective tactic to remedy many of these risks, the registered dietitian Alix Turoff told Insider. It creates a healthy compromise that results in most of the benefits of veganism with fewer drawbacks and less arduous planning, she said.
Dietitians agree that the 80/20 rule might be healthier than regular veganism
Turoff said she generally doesn’t recommend veganism to her clients because it’s difficult to eat healthy while vegan and get good sources of protein.
Brady’s approach is a good one, Turoff said, because it is an easy way to incorporate the benefits of some animal-based protein while still emphasizing vegetables and plant-based carbs as the main source of calories and nutrients.
“I think we can all agree that adding more plants to our diet is always a good idea, but that doesn’t mean being full plant based is necessary,” Turoff said. “Especially for someone like Tom Brady whose protein needs are going to be very high with his activity level!”
Kris Sollid, a registered dietitian who is also the senior director of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council, said that people should generally try to include more plant-based foods to their diets, but a diet of only plants isn’t necessarily healthier than a diet that includes meat and fish as well.
Sollid classifies Brady’s diet as a “flexitarian diet” which is a semi-vegetarian, plant-forward diet that incorporates dairy and eggs and allows room for meat from time to time.
“The emphasis on plant foods is thought to contribute to the health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet without requiring compliance to a 100% vegetarian or
,” Sollid told Insider. “A flexitarian diet, as its name implies, allows for flexibility while striving to slowly increase fruit and vegetable intake over time without eliminating animal foods.”