Should sportspeople’s nutrition books come with a health warning?


Excuse that quick splashing of raw cacao butter into my freshly brewed black coffee and the slow nibbling on organic walnuts. And before anyone thinks that’s the best way to start an athletics column, I wouldn’t recommend it, except to say it works for me.

Truth is any mention of food or drink on the sports pages these days should probably come with some sort of health warning, for better or for worse, and nowhere is that more apt right now than around Tom Brady.

Six months before turning 44, Brady will make his 10th Super Bowl appearance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, further extending the record nine he set with the New England Patriots, winning six of them.

Since 2017, Brady has been practising and preaching the apparent benefits of a plant-based diet, adamant that what he eats and drinks helps explain his longevity on the field – and presumably off it too. Brady hasn’t gone full vegan, still allowing himself some lean red meat and fish as prepared by his personal chef, but has cut out all dairy and refined sugars, claiming his diet is now 80 per cent vegetables, whole grains and beans.

Spedding’s book isn’t selling one particular food group over another (nor does it contain a single recipe, for that matter)

Naturally, he’s written the book too – The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance – and also promotes his own brand of TB12 supplements which are entirely vegan (12 must be lucky for Brady, the number of both his NFL jersey and his principles of health).

Parts of the TB12 method are perfectly nutritionally sound (fresh whole foods are best for everybody); other parts (such as drinking half your body weight in water every day) more pseudoscientific and potentially dangerous. Though only warning off fruits such as strawberries because he doesn’t like them, for many people the TB12 method is overly restrictive or simply unsustainable. But hey, he’s Tom Brady.

Bronze medal

Charlie Spedding never won a Super Bowl, only an Olympic bronze medal in the marathon, and is probably still familiar to many here for finishing on the heels of our own John Treacy in Los Angeles in 1984 (they entered the Memorial Coliseum together, Treacy running 67 seconds for the last lap on the track to move away on the backstretch, finishing two seconds ahead).


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