“Plant-based” is not a synonym for vegan or vegetarian. Seriously.

Yes, a plant-based diet consists primarily of nutrient-dense and locally sourced foods that come from the earth, but its goal is not to cut out entire food groups. “A healthy diet is a balanced one,” Tom Brady explains.

That said, don’t load your plate with meat and dairy. Minimize or even eliminate saturated fats (e.g., butter, cheese, milk, red meat) and processed meats (e.g., hot dogs, bacon) — both of which can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other health problems commonly associated with the standard American diet — but remember that your body needs essential fatty acids. Good sources of these include wild game, salmon, and sardines along with pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts.

While the American Heart Association links vegetarianism with a decreased risk of many of the health problems mentioned above, it warns that such a diet must be carefully planned to include the proper nutrients. That’s where TB12™’s plant-based principles come in, balanced with a healthy dose of flexibility.

 

HOW TO INTEGRATE MEAT — THE RIGHT WAY

It’s not about whether you eat meat — it’s about how much you eat, and what you eat it with. A plant-based diet is exactly what it sounds like: a way of eating rooted in vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds while limiting sugar, caffeine, alcohol, salt, refined carbohydrates, dairy, and unhealthy fats. If you focus on buying local, organic whole foods, you’re on the right track.

When integrating meat, poultry, and fish into this way of eating, look for these phrases on the package:

  • Organic.
  • Grass-fed.
  • Free-range.
  • Hormone-free.
  • Antibiotic-free.
  • Wild (for fish).

In short, if you choose to integrate these foods into your balanced diet, you’ll be only as healthy as the animals you consume. You don’t want to eat beef from cows that are fed with GMO corn or pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. The adage rings true: You are what you eat.

What you pair meat with matters, too. Although many of us who follow Western diets were raised on steak and potatoes, Brady’s longtime Body Coach Alex Guerrero explains that this is a recipe for incomplete digestion because of the imbalance of alkaline and acidic foods.

“Do not combine protein-rich foods (meats, fish, poultry, and dairy) with starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, yams, breads, wheat products, and grain products),” he explains.

 

A TIP FROM TOM: EAT YOUR VEGGIES FIRST

Portion control is vital if you want to eat meat, poultry, and fish. These types of foods are fattier and less nutrient-dense than most of their plant-based counterparts, but they often pack a bigger punch of protein. Best practice? Stick to servings that are visibly smaller than your palm, and eat twice as many vegetables.

“If I order something savory, like fish or a steak, I make sure to order a lot of vegetables on the side,” Brady writes in The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. “I eat them first, so by the time I get to the steak, I’m already pretty full.” By eating the most nutrient-dense food on his plate first, Brady can fill up on the good stuff and more easily eat less of the bad. This helps with maintaining healthy muscles, which leads to optimal pliability, greater vitality, and peak performance.

Check out our favorite recipes in the TB12 mobile app.

 

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