Athletes need to be in peak physical condition to be successful. At this point, protein powder shakes and meals of plain chicken and greens are the meme diet of bodybuilders and gym bros. But what do star athletes eat? Here are three athletes’ diets to follow to give you some inspiration in the kitchen.
The NFL odds on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning this year’s Super Bowl are pretty darn good, and a lot of that is down to quarterback Tom Brady. Even though he is 45 and briefly considered retirement in 2020, Brady is still considered one of the greatest quarterbacks playing and certainly one of the best of all time.
Brady credits his diet with helping him to stay healthy, fit, and strong. The diet, known as the TB12 Method, is a whole food diet that is supposed to increase energy and minimize inflammation. The diet suggests eating 80% fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds and 20% protein from lean organic, free-range lean meats, and wild-caught seafood. It bans alcohol, caffeine, refined carbs, added sugars, salt, and trans fats.
Brady has converted his diet into an income stream as well. You can now buy his cookbook and his line of protein powders and supplements.
There are a few glaring issues with the diet. The first is that for most people, only buying organic, free-range, grass-fed meat and local organic produce is prohibitively expensive. The second is that cutting out all alcohol, caffeine and added sugars is incredibly difficult to sustain.
The inspiration we can take from the TB12 Method is to gear our diet toward plant-based foods and avoid heavily processed snacks. This is good advice no matter what diet you follow and can be integrated into any meal plan.
Venus Williams is one of the greatest tennis players ever. She has won 7 Grand Slam singles titles, 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, and several others. The impact she and her sister Serena have had on the sport can’t be overstated.
Williams was a raw food vegan for several years, but she has recently converted to a more standard vegan diet. The strictness of the raw diet made it more challenging to follow, defeating the purpose. Williams now advocates for people transitioning to a vegan diet to do so slowly; that way, you feel less like you’re missing out and have the time to learn which vegan recipes you enjoy.
Like Brady, Williams has also started her own protein shake and supplement line. Protein can be more challenging for vegans to get into their diet, especially for those who don’t like or are allergic to soy. Athletes often drink protein shakes to give them the extra boost needed to get through their workouts and build muscle.
While going vegan might not be possible for everyone, being more conscious about our eating decisions can help reduce our impact on the planet. Plus, eating more fruits and vegetables is a smart choice no matter what kind of diet you follow.
Jamie McMurray is a former race car driver who won 16 races and earned 17 pole positions over the course of his career. Like all NASCAR drivers, he needed great reaction times and to be fit enough to handle the rigors of elite driving. McMurray doesn’t necessarily follow a specific diet but his approach to eating is one that we can all relate to and take inspiration from.
McMurray acknowledges that some days, life gets the better of you, and comfort food is all you crave. Instead of feeling guilty about those cravings and resisting them until they’re overwhelming and you end up binging, McMurray is happy to take those “cheat days” when they come. His regular diet includes fish for protein, vegetables, and rice.
We could all do with more vegetables in our diets. But we could also all do with being a little kinder to ourselves. Yes, food is fuel, but it should also be enjoyable. We shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying a cheeseburger on occasion or feel like we should only buy low-calorie versions of our favorite treats. McMurray’s diet is a good reminder that we can be at our best while still eating like ordinary people.