Tampa, Fla. — At the age of 32, Rob Gronkowski is still one of the league’s best tight ends and he says his teammate Tom Brady’s diet suggestions have helped to maintain his endurance.
By observing Brady and following some of his health advice, he learned to eliminate certain foods from his diet and one bit of advice Gronkowski strictly adheres to is avoiding processed sugar and most processed foods.
“I love desserts, but it has to all be naturally grown ingredients,” Gronkowski said. “I’ll have sugar, but it has to be some organic cane sugar or organic brown sugar, not some synthetic sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Just all-natural products, all-natural food.”
Gronkowski, like many other people have learned, that if you want to live a healthy lifestyle and you must have sugar, a health-conscious decision would be to substitute refined white sugar with natural sweeteners such as honey, date sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar or maple syrup to name a few.
One reason refined sugar is not good for you is because it doesn’t contain any essential nutrients. Refined sugar has no healthy fats, protein, enzymes, or vitamins. It is empty calories your body rapidly digests and causes blood glucose spikes.
Natural forms of unprocessed sugar contain more trace minerals and antioxidants than cane sugar which is refined from sugarcane, a tropical grass. Sugarcane refining includes several chemical processes to remove impurities and to increase the sucrose content. In addition, the sugarcane industry has a larger impact on the environment due to fertilizer run off, pesticide applications and refinery emissions.
There are many natural sweeteners and to find them, type the words “natural sweeteners” into the search bar of your favorite search engine. When shopping for natural sweeteners it is very important to read the information on the website or the label before you buy.
For example; if honey is going to be used for its health-benefits, it must be raw honey. Heating honey (pasteurization) destroys the all of the pollen, enzymes, propolis, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and aromatics. Most honey found in supermarkets, unless specifically labeled as raw, is pasteurized and considered liquid, commercial honey or regular honey. 100% raw honey is in the same condition as it was in the hive and the rawest honey available is comb honey which is sections of the hexagonal-shaped beeswax cells of the honeycomb that contain raw honey that have been cut from the wooden frames of a beehive.
All raw honey has medicinal benefits with some having more than others, such as buckwheat honey and manuka honey. Raw honey does not necessarily have to be organic honey, and organic honey can be raw, minimally processed, or even the regular variety.
European colonists brought honey bees to North America beginning in the 1620s as a source of honey and beeswax and today, next to maple syrup and maple sugar, honey is the most popular natural sweetener in North America.
While natural sweeteners still contain sugar, they do offer slightly more nutrients with fewer health risks than refined sugars so they should still be consumed in moderation.
“I just learned that over time by watching him eat, obviously everything he’s putting in his body from desserts to the meal that he’s eating is all clean products, it’s all clean foods,” Gronkowski said in an interview to promote his cleats, made in partnership with USAA, the USO, and his own Gronk Nation Youth Foundation for this year’s NFL My Cause My Cleats campaign.
Brady and Gronkowski played nine seasons together for the New England Patriots from 2010 to 2018, and won three Super Bowls. Gronkowski watched Brady age from 33 to 41 in that time but play at the same level and even improve in some respects as he got older.
After the 2018 football season, Gronkowski temporarily retired but then came back in 2020 to join Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to his 2017 book “The TB12 Method” Brady, 44, has removed several ingredients and food groups from his diet.
The idea of totally eliminating all refined sugar from your diet can be distressing to some people so, many find it easier to gradually wean themselves off sugar instead of going “cold turkey”.