Tim Tebow has eaten a keto diet since 2011: ‘carbs are the enemy’

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Last week on Twitter, football-turned-baseball player Tim Tebow announced his partnership with KetoLogic, and shared that he’s been following the keto diet since 2011 (Other sites are reporting it’s 2012, but that’s what he tweeted). He also shared photos from a keto cooking segment that he did with Rachael Ray. Tim talked to People about his love of keto, his hatred of carbs, and the meal that he misses:

Tim Tebow says he is one of the original fans of the keto diet.

The former NFL player tells PEOPLE that when he tried the carb-cutting diet seven years ago, he didn’t know a single other person that was on it.

“I was the first person I knew in the beginning of 2012 to do it,” says Tebow, 32, who credits his trainer at the time for introducing him to the diet.

“You learn carbs are the enemy,” Tebow explains, but admits that there is one special meal of his mother’s that he misses most.

“It was something called pizza pie,” he says. “It was made with this crazy huge dough on the outside. We had to switch the crust — find new alternatives.”

[From People]

Tim knows the diet has its critics but says that you should do what’s right for you, and that it’s made a difference for him in his family. His message of “you do you” is fine, but the keto diet is not without risks, and I can’t take seriously anyone who says “Carbs are the enemy,” because that overgeneralization is ridiculous. Aside from having a medical condition that makes eating certain foods dangerous, eating everything in moderation makes sense, and most people know that. Tim also recently tweeted, “We’re not called to have fun. We’re called to have lives of meaning, purpose and significance.” What? No fun (or carbs!) ever? And yet you called your cooking segment with Rachael “fun,” Tim. How quickly you forget! Sure, Jan. Whatever.

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75 Responses to “Tim Tebow has eaten a keto diet since 2011: ‘carbs are the enemy’”

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  1. Esmom says:

    I really hope my healthy food and exercise obsessed athlete son doesn’t see this. Messages like Tebow’s can really contribute to disordered eating. Sigh.

    • detritus says:

      Orthorexia is a thing and I wouldn’t doubt it’s a major male eating disorder. My partner works in body builder adjacent business, and so many of the men in the business show signs of disordered eating. Since it’s about getting huge though, it’s not seen as disordered, It’s control and powerful and also that’s a girls thing. I eat and don’t throw up so I’m fine.

      We need a lot more work in this area. I hope your son is safe and has lots of other messages to counter this one

      • Esmom says:

        Hi Detritus, thanks for the well wishes. We have been trying to get a handle on it for six years. With doctors, therapists, OCD meds. And since he’s only 20 that’s almost a third of his life! As you said, the hardest thing is that it is socially acceptable, among athletes especially, to want to be bigger and stronger. It’s harrowing and exhausting and I long for the day he realizes he can take a break and lighten up a bit and it won’t compromise his fitness

      • detritus says:

        Is he open to research? There’s a lot of stuff available on burnout and appropriate rest for performance, but you may have already gone there or it may play into his issues

        I’m sorry that he’s having a hard time with his health like that. It must be heartbreaking as a parent, but you are doing awesome just by understanding and being there for him.
        .

      • Esmom says:

        Detritus, I have shared all that research with him, coaches have tried to talk to him. Peers, too. He remains convinced that because of his unique wiring (he’s on the autism spectrum) that the normal “rules” don’t apply to him. On one hand I get it because it’s true that he has to work so much harder at every single thing he does. But on the other hand I think the basic premise of rest and recovery being essential to his workouts does still apply to him. He just can’t see it, his obsessiveness won’t let him. He really seems to have no idea how much easier he could be on himself, he should be on himself. Sigh.

      • Ariel says:

        I’m so glad more people are familiar with the concept of orthorexia! I had a friend who was obsessed with eating clean (local, organic, etc etc etc) and her food got cleaner and cleaner I until she was claiming she “couldn’t metabolize fats,” even plant-based fats like avocados. It was so clearly an eating disorder but didn’t fit into anorexia or bulimia so even once she admitted she had a problem, she couldn’t find treatment that felt relevant.

        The term orthorexia really helped her make sense of what she was experiencing, and find her way back to more balanced eating. I’m so glad the word is getting more awareness around it!!

      • detritus says:

        Ahhh I’m sorry ESMOM, when you’re living with it you’ve tried everything, that was rude of me. Good luck to you and yours. I have nothing but hope he will get better with all your support, it just might be a long journey.

  2. Erinn says:

    I will never ever understand his appeal to anyone other than super evangelical types.

    He looks like a cartoon character. He talks like a meme of one of women from the housewives franchise. There’s just something that really rubs me the wrong way with him – he seems like a huge grifter.

    • SarahConnor says:

      He talks a like a real housewives meme 🤣 Brilliant, Erinn! And I agree completely with your assessment!

  3. tw says:

    This is so ridiculous. Keto and other forms of restrictive dieting are disordered eating. Balance people. Balance and portion control.

    • delphi says:

      **takes bite of whole wheat everything bagel with avocado and capers**

      Carbs are your friend, Timmy. NFL defensive lines, not so much.

    • Mousy says:

      Balance doesnt sell or make headlines though :( Crazy claims like this is why the diet industry exists – im glad people are starting to wake up though. When i gained weight in grad school there were like 3 months of going down the diet trends and it was really toxic. Lot the 20 pounds getting 10k steps a day, snacking less, drinking more water, and eating plant based (not entirely vegan).

  4. Willz says:

    Ketogenic diet is a really valuable tool for helping someone with metabolic syndrome (and other health issues) lose extra fat and get back on track, but as a long- term way of eating, I can’t imagine the health implications.

    To say “carbs are the enemy” is egregious. Fruits and vegetables are carbs. Is this dude saying they’re the enemy? He never struck me as particularly brilliant.

    • Alice says:

      Exactly @Willz. I am currently on the keto diet to help jump start getting back on the right track. I think more clearly and feel less bloated and tired when I don’t have so many carbs. There are varied levels of carbs you can have to be in ketosis, so to each their own. Balance is key and doing what works best for your individual self!

  5. Marjorie says:

    Somebody cares about what he eats?

  6. EMc says:

    Bring on the attacks, but I have more energy and feel much better when I cut out carbs. I try and stick to healthy fats, lean meats and veggies. On occasion I’ll have sweets or bread, but it makes me feel bloated and sluggish the rest of the day.

    • MeghanNotMarkle says:

      For some people Keto can be beneficial. You know your body best.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Vegetables are carbohydrates

      • EMc says:

        Of course they have carbs, but not nearly as much as lots of other carb laden foods. If I grill fish I’m going to have fresh asparagus or broccoli, not a side of rice and potatoes. That’s all I’m sayin. And it makes me feel fantastic, so I’m gonna keep doing it.

    • smee says:

      ITA – processed carbs – that I love – do make me gain weight and feel bad. I now treat bread and pasta like “cake” and only eat it sparingly. Veg carbs are needed and provide fiber.

      • Esq.espres says:

        Exactly. People need to stop pretending like pasta and bread are nutritional powerhouses. They are not. Nor necessary to be healthy.

        People on this site get so mad at celebrities for their dietary decisions. If you want to be vegan, do so. If you want to be keto, do so.

    • Valerie says:

      I’m fine low-carb, but I haven’t done keto consistently. I think Tebow is a bloody weird tho, lol.

      • Killjoy says:

        Yeah…like keto for when you want to lose weigh (if it’s your fave diet anyway), and low-carb to help maintain/feel good if necessary, but keto since 2012??? There is NO way that is healthy. I can’t believe an athlete would do that.

  7. Oatmeal says:

    Carbs can be the enemy if you have a sedentary job and have to seek out exercise

    As someone who works a physical job (avg 5 to 8 miles a day walking plus carrying up to 50 lbs )…I think I’d go batty if I couldn’t eat carbs

    I couldn’t afford all the meat and veggies I’d need to keep up with the calorie I burn

    And even eating crappy, I still lost 40 lbs

    The human body was meant for movement and laborious activity and it was meant to consume all sources of calories imo.

  8. Veronica S says:

    Lol. You would literally die without carbohydrates. Your body cannot live off protein and fat alone without building up toxic levels of byproducts from accessory metabolic functions. Your body fuels itself on glucose. Period, end of story. Everything has to be converted to that basic sugar for the ATP generation cycle to occur.

    Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are the best if you want a diet easier to maintain weight on, but carbs are carbs. There is no such thing as “empty calories.” With the exception of synthetics like artificial sweeteners, your body is designed to break down and utilize everything. It does not remotely care how you manage it unless you have autoimmune GI issues or intolerances to things like gluten or lactose.

    • Mike says:

      Ketogenic diet isn’t the total elimination of carbs. If the Ketogenic diet was deadly, as you portray, please explain how 10′s of thousands of patients on it for drug resistant epilepsy are alive? There are entire wings at Duke and John Hopkins for the Ketogenic Diet being used in that population.

      • TheOtherViv says:

        That is very true. I have been told by my neurologist to stick to a Keto-like diet to control my migraines, same applies for my nephews with epilepsy. Does help. Used to be called a healthy version of Atkins until Atkins re-invented themselves. Now that Keto-Hype and Keto-bashing is the norm I get so much more hassle for trying to eat that way. I love me some carbs sometimes, but yes, I should not be eating too many for health reasons and I know it works. Still hard. People are built differently.

      • Veronica S. says:

        Yeah, I’m aware of how keto works. I’m rolling at my eyes at “carbs are the enemies” and the misinformation in suggesting it eliminates all carbs, not people who actually utilize the diet properly. My point is that people on keto are eating carbs. What they aren’t eating are heavy grains and processed sugars. Which is fine, but there are issues that arise from it if the diet doesn’t maintain a certain balance of carbohydrates to protein/fats. That can be dangerous because the byproducts of lipid and protein conversion to glucose toss off ketones that can increase the acidity of the blood. The diet is fine if it’s properly managed with good reason. It’s not for everybody and can be downright dangerous for somebody thinking it’s a quick way to lose weight through carb starving.

      • Killjoy says:

        Ok, but a lot of people doing keto don’t have epilepsy. It’s a way to lose weight, and maybe a way to learn about how carbs make ya feel, but to do it since 2012 when there isn’t a medical reason to do it…this strikes me as really foolish.

    • Sienna says:

      There are essential amino acids (protein) and essential fatty acids (fats) but there is not actually a single essential carbohydrate.

      Your body can covert protein to glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis.

      Keto feels extreme for some people and awesome for others. It’s this idea of vilifying how other people eat that’s so frustrating.

      Be active, eat real whole foods in quantities that work for you!

      • Kebbie says:

        “It’s this idea of vilifying how other people eat that’s so frustrating.”

        Amen! And Tebow is doing it here saying carbs are the enemy. Keto is not the end all be all of diets and it’s not an unhealthy awful eating disorder. Why can’t everybody just do what’s best for themselves without the harsh judgments?!

      • Veronica S. says:

        “There are essential amino acids (protein) and essential fatty acids (fats) but there is not actually a single essential carbohydrate.”

        Yes, there is. It is called glucose, and it is monosaccharide that exists in nature in formed carbohydrate complexes, just as all essential amino acids and fatty acids exist in protein and fat complexes in nature. Glucose is the only monosaccharide available for the ATP generation cycle to work in metabolic function. Period. End of story. It is literally the only sugar that our body can break down and utilize in that cycle. Carbohydrates are simply complex sugars that can be broken down more easily into disaccharides and monosaccharides, and that includes glucose. Your body will convert all of them to glucose and then either store them for later usage by conversion to glycogen or utilize them for current ATP generation needs.

        Your body can break down molecules of fats and lipid *when no active glucose or glycogen stores are available* (aka you’ve exhausted your primary stores) into glucose that can be utilized, but it comes at a cost. It requires more ATP, and it will result in toxic byproducts in the form of ketones and other oxygenated wastes that increase acidity in the blood. Enough buildup can lead to ketoacidosis, which probably sounds familiar because that’s what happens to diabetics due to their body’s inability to utilize insulin properly to uptake glucose in the blood. It’s not your body’s preferred form of metabolism for long term function.

        I don’t care if people do keto, nor am I vilifying them. If it works for you, great. Frankly, my diet is actually closer to keto than not due to a GI disorder that bars my ability to eat many whole grains and severely limits my gluten intake. But carbs are not the “enemy.” That kind of statement can be genuinely problematic when stated by people who aren’t medical experts who are talking to a public that isn’t completely informed. Keto is fine if you’re eating an appropriate amount of vegetables, fruits, and grains to provide a good carbohydrate basis, but way too often I see misused by people who are covering up eating disorders or who flat out don’t understand nutritional balance.

      • Esq.espres says:

        “Keto feels extreme for some people and awesome for others. It’s this idea of vilifying how other people eat that’s so frustrating.”

        Yassss!

  9. Oatmeal says:

    Keto did not work for me

    My body was not happy with the loss of whole grains and beans and my gut revolted at the lack of yogurt i.e. good bacteria

    Now sure, I could have replaced the yogurt with say drinking kevita (a live culture fermented beverage) but the loss of beans and grains my body still wouldn’t have stood for

    • Kebbie says:

      Why not just eat no sugar added plain Greek yogurt? I miss beans the most, myself.

      • Jess says:

        People on strict keto do not eat any yogourt, or milk for that matter (too much naturally occuring sugar from lactose). Only dairy products allowed are whipping cream and butter.

      • lucy2 says:

        I couldn’t do without yogurt, and beans too.

        I’m trying to limit carbs from sugar and flour, and I’ve slipped off the wagon a bit lately and gained back. :( Trying to get back on track now!

      • Kebbie says:

        @Jess I did not know that! I put feta on my Greek salads and bleu cheese crumbles on my Cobb salads. I don’t know how down with keto I’d be without dairy. When I have Greek yogurt, usually only like twice a week, I’ve done it to replace meat or eggs so my ratios aren’t thrown off. If I ate it every day I can see how it’d be a little harder.

        I definitely don’t touch milk, but that’s easy because I’ve always preferred almond milk.

  10. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    I used Keto for a little while to kick my pre-diabetes to the curb, and then resumed a healthy diet with moderate whole grains. That’s been sustainable for me so I’m sticking to it. You can pry my carbs out of my cold, dead hands.

  11. Kebbie says:

    I thought keto was for people with specific health conditions and for people with extra weight to lose, not healthy people? This guy is an idiot, but keto has been great for me. I’ve never felt less restricted on a diet and my sugar cravings are gone. I used to constantly crave sweets. Constantly. People harp on about balance and portion control, but that isn’t easy for all of us! It wasn’t easy for me until I started keeping my net carbs under 30 g a day.

    I’m not sure why people are so threatened by different ways of eating. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s awful or unhealthy. The same way carbs are NOT the enemy for all people. Limiting carbs has been great for me. I’ve lost 15 pounds in a month. Everybody should be allowed to figure out what works for them without judgment.

    • Annabel says:

      Agreed! I’ve been on a keto diet for years to keep my pre-diabetes from turning into actual diabetes, and seriously, it’s not that big a deal. I don’t really get why people get so excited about this diet.

    • Apalapa says:

      I think people are threatened by it because these behaviors make their way into the hands of impressionable young kids, teens, young adults and cause lifelong issues including disordered eating and eating disorders. Your nerves need fat AND glucose to repair, so does your brain. So do your bones and immune system. What is the point of Being 5% body fat if you cannot enjoy food or are developing osteoporosis? If your mental health freaks out at enjoying food, which is a natural pleasure. If his girlfriend gave him carbs he would probably break up with her. Only half kidding.

      People like Tim Tebow encourage one to ignore those long term after effects for short term effect (5-10 years) of looking good.

      The truth is, people who cut foods out can get a high from it. So it can feel good, and especially decrease anxiety. But it can – though not always- mess with your brain over a lifetime – if you don’t have access to specialized testing, doctors, dietitians who make sure you don’t have nutritional deficiencies. Rich people on keto? Probably fine. Kids, teens, young adults – their systems need more calories than average for proper growth and it WILL mess them up.

      I don’t know about adults not eating carbs, but it seems to me that the healthiest body is one that can use a lot of different food sources for energy? At the same time I recognize the science around keto sounds legit, but I also found a whole graveyard of people who had done it and had to stop after several years becsuse they were very ill – not sleeping, weak, gaining back weight they had lost, low body temperature. You don’t hear about it on the keto forums but in places that mention diet recovery, as everyone stops feeling good over time.

      Anyway we as a society encourage disordered eating in young people and it is sad.

      • Kebbie says:

        I don’t really see how your argument relates specifically to keto. Disordered eating can be found anywhere and can develop when you’re following any diet. That’s more about the individual and their tendency towards anxiety, control, and addictive behaviors.

        My comment specifically said I thought keto was for people with specific health conditions and people who needed to lose weight. I also said everyone needs to figure out what works for them. If you’re developing osteoporosis, mental health problems, or feeling awful, of course you shouldn’t be on it!

        Life wouldn’t be worth living if I couldn’t enjoy food. On keto, I can and I still lose weight, which is what I need. I don’t understand the argument that it’s always bad for everyone, it just doesn’t hold water. Once my weight is where it needs to be, I intend on transitioning to something like Paleo or a moderate carb, moderate fat, high protein diet. If someone is unable to diet in a healthy way, they need to seek counseling.

        As I said above and below, they should’ve picked someone smarter than Tim Tebow to be some kind of ambassador. He’s an idiot and putting misinformation about carbs out there doesn’t help anyone.

  12. Lightpurple says:

    Vegetables contain carbohydrates. If he is eating spinach, lettuce, broccoli, he is eating carbs.

    • Kebbie says:

      I think he means excessive carbs. Keto limits carbs, it doesn’t eliminate them. I eat salad and veggies every day on keto. They should have found someone smarter to endorse it.

      • Lightpurple says:

        I think he, and many others who are anti-carb, mean starch; things like potatoes, winter squashes, rice, bread, pasta, beans, legumes. Many people say stuff like this without a clue what they are talking about. And our bodies need starches too. We need everything in moderation. Julia Child ate and drank everything she wanted, in moderation, and lived to be 92.

      • Kebbie says:

        Lol Julia Child was 6’2. I’m 5’1. If I ate everything I wanted I’d be a balloon. “In moderation” is so easy to say, but so hard to do. I found something that’s working for me, I’m sticking with it. All anyone can do is listen to their own body.

  13. Tiffany says:

    *sits at desk eating pancake on a stick*

    I’m sorry, what happened?

    • Esmom says:

      Lol. Carbs are most definitely not my enemy, either. I have been known to eat a loaf of bread while still warm. And not to humblebrag but I’ve never been overweight.

      • Kebbie says:

        I hate you 😅

      • Esmom says:

        Kebbie, lol. I know much of it is genetics but generally my philosophy is everything in moderation, with the exception of the occasional carb binge, and to exercise consistently. And exercise harder, not less, as you get older. No magic formulas.

      • Kebbie says:

        I’ve got the exercise down pat, it’s the moderation and genetics that present a problem for me. I’m getting there with keto though!

  14. Ruyana says:

    Carbs are necessary for proper brain function. Which probably explains the fact that Tebow doesn’t seem very intelligent.

  15. A says:

    Something I’ve found interesting about my own diet–I’m on my own at the moment, so I have to feed myself, for the most part. I’ve been trying to consume less carbs, thinking that if everyone was talking about it, maybe it would help. I wound up getting tired, frazzled, and sleepy ALL of the time. The same thing happens when I skip out on protein. Or vegetables. Or, funnily enough, sugar.

    So no, Tim “I lost my virginity to god” Tebow. Carbs are not the enemy. That’s because food is not the enemy, considering just how vital it is to, y’know, stay alive.

  16. Claire says:

    Eating disorders are the enemy,

  17. Giddy says:

    He says we are not called to have fun? What a joy he must be to be around.
    Also, I don’t know if strict keto leads to bad decisions, but his Mohawk in the top photo is not a good look. Didn’t he used to be kind of cute?

  18. Algernon says:

    It took years of therapy and nutrition learning to understand that no food is my enemy.

    Also this, “We’re not called to have fun. We’re called to have lives of meaning, purpose and significance.” is an Evangelical talking point recently. I’ve heard the EV branch of my family spouting lines like this. I think it’s because their beliefs are so increasingly out of step with all forms of culture. My strict EV relatives don’t see movies, don’t watch TV, read very little, and listen to the worst music. They drill their kids on this “purpose, not fun” line because their kids are upset at missing out on all the stuff their friends do. I’m sure it’s unrelated that most of my EV relatives are homeschooling now, too.

  19. Annabel says:

    “Everything in moderation” totally seems like a principle that should work for everyone, right? It sounds so sensible! But it just isn’t true for some of us. I’m pre-diabetic and can’t eat refined carbs (bread, pasta, rice, etc) without my blood sugar spiking and then an awful blood sugar crash, so I was on a low-carb diet for a long time before I read about the keto diet and tried adding more fat to my diet, and I have to say it made a huge difference in my energy levels.

    If you can eat like a normal person then I’m happy for you, but we can’t all do that. I stopped eating refined carbs on the advice of a nutritionist at my endocrinologist’s office.

    • Korra says:

      Agreed. I think my other issue with the “everything in moderation” mantra, besides the fact that it doesn’t always apply to people with certain medical conditions, is that moderation is relative to the person and their metabolic abilities. I have a friend who lost weight cutting back on carbs and sugary foods, but she was eating A LOT to begin with and still had a fairly high functioning metabolism. She now eats something sweet – slice of cheesecake, a donut, large cookies – 2-3x a week while still keeping her weight in check. Whereas my other friend can only sweets very rarely and gains very easily. For her, eating cake 2-3x/year does not feel like moderation; feels like deprivation.

      • Kebbie says:

        Or when people cut out soda and sugary drinks and lose weight. I’m like “YOU WERE DRINKING SODA?!” I’m 32 and haven’t had sweetened drinks more than a handful of times a year for over a decade. It’s insane to me that there are adults who regularly consume sweet drinks or flavored Starbucks Frappuccino’s and lattes and maintain a healthy weight. We really are not all wired the same way.

        It reminds me of when Melissa McCarthy was joking about how perfect Chris Hemsworth was and she said he could eat cake without gaining weight. Then she said something like “interestingly enough, I gained six pounds when he ate a slice of cake.”

  20. Texas says:

    I’m feeling super judgy today but gawd. I really cannot stand religious nuts. Not called to have fun??? What a pompous ass. Actually, I think he is just simple. Not really a bad guy. Just kind of dumb.

    • ME says:

      He’s definitely not a bad guy. I don’t know too much about him but I have heard about all the charity work he does. He goes out of his way to help others…so I don’t really mind all the religious talk as long as he’s doing good and not bad. He seems genuine.

    • Joanna says:

      I can’t either but he came to a shelter where people stayed during a hurricane so I can’t hate on him too much.

  21. Valerie says:

    He just quoted Fat Bastard, lmao.

  22. Savannah says:

    Wow, people who talke themselves this seriously really blows my mind.

    And why would anyone need that much muscles? And never have fun?
    It’s not your “purpose” in life to be this obsessed with your body.

  23. Bree says:

    Thanks for linking to the risks. I’d add that I’ve read articles and experienced another risk factor: if you have thyroid or adrenal issues being in ketosis very long can really mess you up. My body can’t handle it anymore.

  24. DietHows says:

    It’s amazing to me from where I come from and how my family had our meals the way they were cooked which was common sense to us that you have to have instructors and scientists or doctors to explain common sense two people. Quit eating sweets processed sugars or anything with corn syrup in it

  25. whybother says:

    a generalizing statement like carb is the enemy s stupid but he is not exactly known as a bright guy anyway
    unfortunately, dumb people always has a bigger platform
    and i don’t think i can maintain it anyway for a long time
    i take the easy way out; eating everything in moderation, reduce my sugar intake and exercise but i also healthy so i don’t need special diet/have restrictions
    BUT rather than spend time listening to people like him, (or me) it is better you seek info from the legit source i.e dietitian