By 2011, Novak Djokovic has won ten titles, three Grand Slams, and forty-three consecutive matches. But, less than two years earlier, this champion could barely complete a tournament. How did a player once plagued by aches, breathing difficulties, and injuries on the court suddenly become the No.1 ranked tennis player in the world? The answer is simple: He changed what he ate.
At his beginnings, Novak’s diet routine consisted of plenty of Italian food like pizza, pasta, and especially bread, as well as heavy meat dishes. During matches, he would eat ‘high energy’ candy bars and drink sugary ‘sports drinks’ for energy. But, when he tried to improve his stamina, the training seemed too much to handle, and he wasn’t reaching the wanted goals.
He searched for advice from his team which suggested changing his diet and trying a healthier approach.
Soon, the reason for his unsatisfying results was revealed by a nutritionist from his home nation of Serbia, Dr. Igor Cetojevic, who suggested Novak try a new, gluten-free diet.
Going gluten free
Gluten is a group of proteins, called prolamins and glutelins, which help foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected. At Djokovic’s case, gluten was causing digestive issues that led to toxins building up in his system.
Therefore, Djokovic went gluten-free for two weeks and felt immediate benefits. He felt lighter, more energetic and slept better than before. After a couple of gluten-free weeks, he had a bagel and the next morning, all the previous symptoms returned, and he was left feeling like he had a hangover. Within 12 months, he was healthier, more alert, energetic and mentally sharper.
Today, Djokovic follows gluten- and dairy-free diet. He also cuts out as much sugar as possible, tending to stick to vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and healthy oils.