Super Bowl food is, obviously, terrible for you. If you asked any athlete to perform on a diet of hot dogs, cheap chicken wings and beer, it’s safe to assume that the standard of play in the NFL would take a significant hit. Unlike the fans, players can’t go around eating whatever they like. Burgers and barbecue are, unfortunately, off limits for anyone who has to run around for a living.
Apart from ignoring all the delicious things on the dinner table, there are actually a surprising number of different ways for a professional athlete to eat. Some top themselves up with troubling amounts of protein shakes, while others might refuse to eat anything that hasn’t been hand reared by a pretentious farmer. But, these regimes pale into insignificance when stacked up against the dietary dedication of ancient football star Tom Brady.
The New England Patriots apparently immortal quarterback, who steered his team to a record sixth Super Bowl title on Sunday, is depressingly youthful. At the age of 41, the veteran should have left his throwing days far behind him. But, like a Bostonian Benjamin Button, years don’t seem to count for much in the Brady household.
When someone so obviously doesn’t look their age, it’s natural for suspicions to arise. Like an evil sexy vampire from a low budget 60s horror, for a long while it looked like there was every chance that Tom Brady spent his evenings in bathtub full of virgin blood. It would certainly have made the rest of us feel a whole lot better. Unfortunately, thanks to a revelation from the star’s personal chef, much of his longevity can be put down to discipline.
According to private cook Allen Campbell, both Brady and his supermodel wife, Brazilian Gisele Bündchen have a highly regimented approach to food that keeps them both in pristine condition when it comes to the biggest evening on the American sporting calendar. As Campbell puts it, “80% of what they eat is vegetables,” adding, “If it’s not organic, I don’t use it. And whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans. The other 20 percent is lean meats: grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then, and chicken. As for fish, I mostly cook wild salmon. It’s very different than a traditional American diet (sic)."
This approach to food isn’t just a surface attempt to look healthy before returning to delicious habits off camera. Brady and Bündchen stick to their regime even when it comes to comfort food. As Campbell explains, “I'm all about serving meals in bowls. I just did this quinoa dish with wilted greens. I use kale or Swiss chard or beet greens. I add garlic, toasted in coconut oil. And then some toasted almonds, or this cashew sauce with lime curry, lemongrass, and a little bit of ginger. That's just comfort food for them."
When it comes to building a career as a sportsperson, talent is obviously important. But, distressingly for anyone who enjoys the more indulgent things in life, sacrifices in your diet can be just as crucial. We might not all be gifted enough to play quarterback for the Patriots, but Brady’s ability to go the extra mile proves that longevity is a marathon, not a sprint.