Should I drink 25 glasses of water like Tom Brady? Experts say no
I wanted to drink 25 glasses of water in a single day. I wanted to be like Tom Brady.
But after I called a few experts this week and asked what might happen if I sat at my desk for an entire eight-hour shift and guzzled 200 ounces of water as I scoured the Internet for the day’s hottest cat stories, they advised against it.
“Twenty-five . . . is a lot. Very much a lot,” said Alicia Romano, a clinical registered dietician at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center. “I would never recommend that to a patient.”
Taking in copious amounts of water happens to be a key point in Brady’s new book, “The TB 12 Method,” which outlines how the star athlete stays in peak physical condition even at the age of 40. In the book, Brady claims that from the time he wakes up to the time he rests his weary head next to Gisele Bundchen’s, he swigs anywhere from 12 to 25 bottles of water, laced with his specialty “TB12” electrolyte cocktail.
“When I explain hydration to people, I use the analogy of going into a butcher shop. Imagine the difference when you look behind the counter at a beautiful, fresh piece of tenderloin and right next to it you see a dried-up piece of jerky,” Brady writes. “The tenderloin is healthy and supple, whereas the beef jerky is shriveled and dried out.”
I wanted to be supple. Who doesn’t?
But when I thought about how Brady’s daily water-sipping habit surpasses the average intake by a high margin, a few things came to mind. Namely, “Is that even healthy?”
That was quickly supplanted by: “Is that even feasible?”
It’s fair to assume that with so many die-hard Patriots fans out there (I’m not one), some could interpret Brady’s regimen as a call to raise all those water glasses with intensity. But experts cautioned there are a few things I should bear in mind before I started pouring.
For starters, the intake suggested in “The TB 12 Method” is tailored to Brady’s body — and Brady’s world. In his book, Brady tells readers who exercise regularly and who are “committed to sustained, peak performance” to drink water based on their weight. If you’re 165 pounds, for example, he claims you should be drinking around 80 ounces of water per day. He urges people to drink more, if possible. If that’s the case, my goal of hitting 25 glasses is already nonsense.
When it comes to what he drinks, Brady likely offsets the fluids with heavy exercise. That means he’s sweating — a lot.
Most of us don’t.
Between the full blast air-conditioning at the Globe’s headquarters and burning calories mostly thanks to my E.T.-shaped fingers hammering away on the keyboard, I don’t need to replenish my body to such extremes, Romano said.
“[Tom Brady] is an elite athlete,” she said. “So his individual fluid needs will be very, very different from the average American’s. . . . We are not all Tom Brady is kind of the take-home point.”
Despite what the guys at my local YMCA might think when I’m curling 8-pounders, I’m no elite. Brady’s 6-foot-4. I’m 5-foot-10. He’s 230 pounds. I wear skinny jeans. You get the point.
Then there are the health risks. Going from just a few cups of water a day to a cascade of fluids is flat-out bad for your body. Drinking too much water can lead to hyponatremia -- when the level of sodium in the blood drops, according to Dr. Mark L. Zeidel, chairman of the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“You can take in more water than your kidneys can get rid of, and if that happens, your blood chemistries will go down,” he said. “If you change that number, your brain cells start swelling and shrinking and it can cause permanent brain damage.”
This isn’t as much of a concern if you build up your water tolerance slowly, and balance it with a lot of exercise and healthy eating habits. You should also space out your consumption. Brady says as much in his book.
Still, Zeidel tells me he “wouldn’t drink the 25 glasses.”
“I wouldn’t do it alone, and I wouldn’t do it as something suddenly,” said Zeidel. “There is a risk you will disrupt your chemistry and get into some difficulty. . . . Drinking the water is not going to make you more fit.”
As for the added electrolytes? Those may be helping Brady maintain a more balanced state of hydration, Romano says. But the average person “does not need this load of electrolytes daily.” Plus, a bottle of the electrolytes cost $15, and would be used up after a day under Brady’s rules.
“It does sound very gimmicky to me to be honest with you,” she said. “To me it sounds like it’s going to be something someone is going to pay a lot of money for and they probably aren’t going to see too much benefit.”
While the experts agreed that I should steer clear of that much water, they did say that Brady’s overall message about staying hydrated, exercising, and eating healthy is an important one.