"It’s hard for me to think that I’m going to be really unhealthy," the New England Patriots quarterback tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview

By Ana Calderone and Charlotte Triggs
March 19, 2018 01:00 PM
2016 New England Patriots Training Camp
Credit: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty

Tom Brady plans to continue his football career for the foreseeable future—with the full support of his wife, Gisele Bünchen, by the way—but if he ever does retire, don’t expect him to relax his famously strict diet.

“It’s possible,” the New England Patriots quarterback admits in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE to promote his book, The TB12 Method. But, “I think I feel really good,” he added. “It’s hard for me to think that I’m going to be really unhealthy.”

Brady—who avoids white sugar, white flour, MSG, caffeine, fungus, dairy and nightshades—says that maintaining his diet allows him to enjoy an active lifestyle, on and off the field.

“I like to be out playing with my kids, traveling, golfing, skiing and playing football and doing a lot of fun things,” says the father of three. “I think leading a healthy lifestyle really is very helpful in living that type of life.”

That means Brady will continue to steer clear of his least favorite food—strawberries—but not because he views them as unhealthy as say, a cheeseburger.

“I just don’t like them. At the end of the day, I just don’t like the taste,” he clarified after telling NY Mag in 2016 that he’d never eaten the fruit in his life. “I don’t like the smell, the texture or anything. It doesn’t really have to do with my diet, it’s just more of my preference, but somehow it got wrapped into my diet.”

The athlete, 40, sticks to a “mostly vegan” diet filled with organic foods about 80 to 90 percent of the time, he says, with only the occasional indulgence.

“I have times where we go out and there’s something delicious on the menu like a steak or a cheeseburger and it’s really good. I definitely will indulge in that. It’s not super often,” he says. “I ask my body to perform at a really high level and I realize that the foods that I put into it are what I’m going to get out of it. And if I want to perform well, I gotta eat really well. That’s really the key to me.”

His cheat meals are not only less frequent these days, but Brady has also learned how to cut back when he is digging in on something not typical of his everyday food choices.

Want the ultimate dish on the latest celebrity food news, plus exclusive recipes, videos and more? Click here to subscribe to the People Food newsletter.

“When I’m eating something that I know is really unhealthy, the only thing I’ll do is eat less,” he says. “I won’t just eat the normal amount, I’ll eat maybe half of it. I’ll still eat it because obviously I like some foods that are very unhealthy too, but I just won’t eat as much as I probably used to 15 years ago when I would eat, you know, the entire meal.”

During a recent appearance on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert convinced Brady to let loose for a night. Colbert not only got the quarterback to eat a strawberry, but also challenged him to a beer chugging contest.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Credit: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

“You don’t drink beer?” Colbert asked during the segment.

“Rarely,” Brady responded.

Without missing a beat, the host pulled two glasses of the beverage out from behind his desk.

Brady downed the beverage impressively, even having time to finish the last swig he missed before Colbert was done.

“That was good,” Brady said, smiling. He added, “That was really good!”