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Tom Brady’s ‘TB12 Method’ book is a pseudoscientific grift, but it’ll make you healthier anyway

Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images for TAG Heuer

Have you ever read a piece of branded content and thought, “This is good, but I wish it was a book?” Then plop down $29.99 (much less on Amazon) for Tom Brady’s The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.

In just 300 pages, you can get Brady’s sports autobiography, his celebration of muscle pliability, a fervent endorsement of hydration (he claims it prevents him from getting sunburned), a variety of training and recovery techniques, recipes for eating like Brady, and carefully posed photos of Brady’s handsome face looking thoughtful.

If, for some reason, you want more information on Brady’s book, these are my takeaways from reading it.

Tom Brady’s TB12 Method Works — for Tom Brady

If you condensed the basics of the TB12 Method into a single paragraph, you’d find a healthy lifestyle that any doctor would endorse: exercise paired with stretching and deep-tissue massage; a healthy diet devoid of refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine; ample hydration; lots of sleep.

When stretched into a book, though, the details and terminology make Brady sound like a health guru, or perhaps a cult leader. Whichever it is, Brady is a true believer in his method, and his method has a proven track record of success for Brady. And, in all fairness, it would likely be successful for you, too, if you were a pro athlete who could afford a full-time chef and full-time trainer.

Tom Brady will sell you the products you need

For almost every tenet of the TB12 Method, Brady has TB12 products or merchandise to help you “achieve your lifetime of sustained peak performance.” Brady shuns weights in favor of resistance bands, which you can buy from TB12. Proper hydration is essential, but water isn’t enough — you need electrolytes in your water, and TB12 will sell them to you. Brady’s exacting diet needs to be “amplified by the right vitamins, nutrients, and minerals,” and TB12 has exactly the right supplements for you. Also, “the body and brain need recentering, rest, and recovery via sleep ... and recovery innovations such as tech-enabled sleepwear.” Try to guess where you can buy $100 tech pajamas. There is even “brain training” that can only be done properly at the TB12 website.

This isn’t a surprise; it’s merely the modern business of wellness. After all, why would Brady and his partner, Alex Guerrero, go through all the effort of developing a program and writing “a new athlete’s bible” if it didn’t feed interested parties back into their business? Brady’s welcome to wring every dollar from eager acolytes, but it makes his coffee table book read like the world’s heaviest catalogue.

Narrative isn’t science

Before curing Brady of tendinitis and sending him down the path of muscle pliability and sustained peak performance, Guerrero ran afoul of the FTC for falsely claiming to be a doctor and shilling products that he claimed could cure, among other things, cancer and concussions (spoiler: they didn’t).

This is not to say that Guerrero isn’t well-versed in Eastern medicine or that he isn’t an excellent trainer. But it does warrant an evaluation of the scientific evidence backing The TB12 Method. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any.

Brady’s book is chock-full of anecdotal evidence, sensible metaphors, and scientific-sounding explanations. When endorsing resistance bands over weightlifting, Brady compares the human body to a truck pulling a load versus one carrying the load in its bed. It makes sense in context, but a truck isn’t built like a human body. More representative was this anecdote:

When I was growing up, and outside in the sun, I got sunburned a lot ... These days, even if I get an adequate amount of sun, I won’t get a sunburn, which I credit to the amount of water I drink ... When I once told that to my sister, she said, “You mean you don’t have to use all those moisturizers and facial products to keep my skin looking good? ... I think you should market your TB12 Electrolytes as a beauty product.”

“You should market your TB12 Electrolytes as a beauty product,” said the sibling to her brother of four decades, using regular words the way normal people talk. Also: Don’t fall for the lies of BIG SUNSCREEN, just drink water!

The TB12 Method is good for you anyway

If you eat a diet composed primarily of fresh vegetables that eschews salt, sugar, fat, and everything else that’s delicious and unhealthy; if you work out with resistance bands and practice active recovery; if you sleep at least eight hours every night and drink more water than anyone is actually comfortable drinking — the odds are incredibly likely that you will be a healthy and energetic person (and a supreme bore at parties, but parties will conflict with your lifestyle anyway).

You can practice a lot of what Tom Brady preaches and be as healthy as any reasonable working person can expect to be. Feel free to dive deeper, but the extra cost just pays for branding and pseudoscience.

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