Lucas Duppler M.S., CISSN
Earlier this week, Tom Brady’s brand “TB12” launched a new plant-based home delivery service called Purple Carrot, similar to the popular service Blue Apron. The soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback made waves back in January with the strict structure of his diet, omitting items such as tomatoes, and including the ever-important (satire) pink Himalayan salt.
Purple Carrot aims to keep the same principles of the quarterback’s diet, but in an easy to prepare plant-based fashion. The ingredients are pre-measured, shipped to your door in a recyclable box, and prepared in 40 minutes or less. Plant-based diets have major health advantages with relation to major health events (dietary cholesterol, heart disease, and hypertension). There’s also a nice write-up on The Grateful Grazer that addresses common myths revolving around plant-based diets. What we’re going to tackle today is not demonizing plant-based dieting; I’m definitely a fan if that’s the dietary strategy you choose to employ within your daily life. Rather, I’d like to investigate the merits (if any) of the Purple Carrot delivery service, while of course focusing on the protein content.
First, let’s start with what’s scientifically questionable about Purple Carrot. The meal plan touts being gluten-free, high in protein and using a limited amount of soy. While gluten-free options are certainly necessary for those suffering from Celiac’s Disease, research shows no added health benefit from those whom can fully digest and absorb gluten. Using the term “high-protein” to describe one’s diet without alluding to the actual amounts of protein is a tad ambiguous. The current RDA set forth for healthy individuals is .8g/kg bodyweight. By definition, a high-protein diet could be anything above this mark. While most nutrition experts argue that the current RDA is too low for exercising adults, it appears that higher protein intake may not only be beneficial for those without pre-existing kidney conditions, it’s also plenty safe for regular exercisers. Limited use of soy within a plant-based diet is a tad confusing, as it is a main protein staple for those living a plant-based lifestyle. Soy milk alternatives often offer nearly as much protein per serving as regular cow’s milk.
In an email response from Purple Carrot, a representative told me that all TB12 meals average 20g of plant-based protein per serving. Using the westernized diet model of three full meals a day, this would average out to 60g of protein per day. Referring to the aforementioned RDA for protein (.8/kg body weight), this meal plan would meet the protein needs for a 165 pound person. However, if you are a regular exerciser, especially with resistance training, your protein needs are likely higher than what the RDA would provide. Research that came out earlier this year suggests that the amount of protein needed post-workout depends on the type of workout you’re doing.
The Purple Carrot meal plan is an encouraging step towards people consuming more nutrient-dense foods. It unnecessarily eliminates food groups, which could lead to ill-advised decisions to avoid certain foods, all in the name of perceived health. While the program claims to provide 20g of protein per serving, this may not be enough for those whom protein requirements may be higher. Look to snack on protein-packed plant-based items in order to meet your protein goals. All-in-all, this is a great option for increasing whole food consumption, but I’ll stick to my steak dinner, veggies, and whey protein shake.