TB12 is the health and fitness approach of football star Tom Brady, who as you might have heard had led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, which will be played this Sunday. Brady published a book about his approach a short while back.
The TB12 Diet is built around a restrictive diet with the following rules that Blackburn helpfully outlined in his story:
Intermittent fasting can work sometimes with exercise, depending on what you do and how.
You should avoid intermittent fasting if you work out in the morning.
The more training you’re doing, the less likely it’s a good idea.
Most of those who practice intermittent fasting and train effectively only strength train as their only meaningful, intense exercise. Generally, their only aerobic training is whatever walking they do during the day, or very brief high intensity interval training… if they do any cardio at all.
If you don’t do much exercise at all, then yes intermittent fasting is a good idea. And you should probably get some exercise, but intermittent fasting is a good habit.
A General Overview of Intermittent Fasting:
Instead of traditional fasting, where you may go a day or more without eating… intermittent fasting is about eating all your day’s meals in a short window of time and not eating the rest of the day.
Even if you eat a similar number of calories, the long break from eating gives your body an extended metabolic break, which can help reduce inflammation and better promote healing and recovery. This is actually more of the benefit of intermittent fasting than the potential fat burning improvements that can occur during the fast.
There’s no calorie restriction on how much you eat during the food window. But, obviously, it’s going to be harder to overeat in a single 8 hour window than it would be if you ate meals throughout the day.
Still, it is possible to outeat the fast during the 8 hour window and still maintain or gain weight. The fast doesn’t cause you to lose weight in itself. While it’s obviously more difficult in a shorter window of time, you can still overeat. That said, intermittent fasting can help with food portion and weight control.
Here is a topic near and dear to my heart, an important facet of health that I’ve been working on as much as my diet and exercise.
The single most important aspect of your training development outside of the actual exercise is your ability to get good sleep. Even the important factor of your diet serves in large part your ability to effectively sleep, and its positive effects on your health will be limited if you aren’t sleeping well.
Unless you’re caring for a newborn child (during that period, they’re often going to wake up overnight and there’s little you can do about that), those choices were to a substantial degree probably avoidable. Even being compelled to keep a complicated, troublesome schedule due to career or family concerns is to some degree a preventable product of life choices. We often choose other priorities over sleep and don’t realize what a mistake that is.
But I digress, and that’s a whole other topic. Barring such extenuating circumstances, most people have ample opportunity to get good sleep every night, and they just don’t. And they may not be fully aware of what else they do aside from just staying awake to deny themselves of that opportunity to sleep….
I’m currently working in a fairly isolated location across town, and some weeks I’m working longer than 8 hours. My schedule many workdays is wall to wall booked:
Perhaps run as time allows
Prep for work
Go to work and work 8-10 hours
Work out if I didn’t get to in the morning
Prep food and clothes for tomorrow
Go to bed.
On many workdays I can’t leave the client facility because I only have 30 minutes for lunch, plus even when I can the best food options are halfway across town. In this location there’s no supermarkets or viable restaurant options nearby. I won’t eat garbage fast food or something off a vending machine or convenience store counter. Even if any of it was satisfying (hint: doubtful), the near total lack of useful nutrients will crash my energy levels in the afternoon, in a job where I need to stay engaged and proactive.
And, of course, I’m now endurance training. I need to stay fueled for those morning and/or afternoon runs. I can’t just eat a minimal diet or whatever happens to be available and expect to perform as needed in these workouts. Plus, I have to maintain my overall health and not make choices that will contribute to illness or burnout. The food I eat has to support not just my general day to day health but what I am doing in training.
Most people who take vitamin supplements take them all at once, usually at the end of the day after their last meal.
Other than the risk of overloading your digestive tract and most of them being passed instead of used, this isn’t a bad strategy… especially if your vitamins are fat-soluble and you’ve had a large, fairly-fat-rich meal for dinner. Sure, some will likely get passed, but much of what doesn’t directly go to your bloodstream for use could them get stored in whatever fat you end up storing, to be released in your bloodstream later when that fat is tapped for energy. (This in fact is why vitamin capsules contain oils: The oils are digested and stored as fat, and the vitamins absorbed can come along for the ride.)
This is beneficial for runners, triathletes and other endurance athletes. When they go to train soon thereafter, any of that fat that’s aerobically burned will also release those stored vitamins for use… at a time when their body may actually need it.
Now, that said, while I’ve talked about vitamins that can and should go together (like Vitamin K2 and calcium), some nutrients don’t go with other nutrients. And one key nutrient to keep in mind is L-theanine.
The catchphrase “listen to your body” is a general reminder to pay attention to the signals your body is giving you regarding your health, energy levels, mood, pain, etc. Paying attention to this information will show you when to rest, when to push hard in workouts, etc.
But we tend to only pay attention to energy, pain signals, and our general mood. Other things we measure and observe are also information our body is giving us.
Presuming you don’t have one: Some of this info can and should be tracked using a fitness watch such as a Fitbit or a Garmin. A suitable watch tracks calories burned and sleep on an ongoing basis. They’re not cheap (typically $100-400) but they are definitely worth their cost if you’re serious about fitness and personal development.
The information this watch can give you when worn everyday provides you with not just a wealth of stats, but those stats can communicate signals that your body hasn’t otherwise been able to get through to you.
Whereas at the time the notable RD’s tome was timely and cutting edge, the preceding couple of decades have rendered much of the book’s conventional wisdom somewhat outdated and possibly to some extent currently off-base.
To preface, it’s worth noting that Kleiner has since released a sequel to the book, The New Power Eating, that is certainly more up to date on today’s knowledge. But still, I’m curious to see how well the old edition holds up.
Kleiner obviously didn’t err based on the information available to everyone in her field at the time. No one then knew of the benefits of concepts like intermittent fasting, carb cycling, that the kidneys could in fact handle a large amount of protein without ill effect, that we didn’t necessarily need as much carbohydrate as they thought for intense activity, etc.
I’m reading through some of the book now, primarily initial sections on exercise fueling, before and after training. She echoes a lot of the conventional wisdom regarding endurance running nutrition, which as people know is very high-carbohydrate and carb-centered.
While the following is hardly comprehensive, I have read a few interesting points that are either not necessarily true today, or could well be valid today and has not been carried over into subsequent analyses.