How does a child with many health issues grow up to become world’s No 1 in tennis? Fascinating story!
From a young age Novak Djokovic endured many respiratory issues including mild version of asthma and suffocation during the night… He had food allergies and these were getting stronger as he was growing up.
Novak’s health issues gave rise to mid-game collapses and at times he had to retire from matches. He was training very hard, his workouts included lifting weights and long hours of cycling yet it was taking him a long time to recover.
The game changer in Novak Djokovic’s life? Getting rid of gluten completely. Novak recounts that he started by alternating days of having gluten pasta with days of gluten-free pasta. He stated: “I lost 5Kg but I was having much more energy and I was more alert. The diet became my life-style… I enjoy it”. He recounts the journey in his book “Serve to Win – THE 14-DAY GLUTEN FREE PLAN FOR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EXCELLENCE“.
Djokovic is currently the best tennis player in the world combining stamina and strength with extraordinary speed and flexibility. He has been world No 1 since 2011.
Changing my diet allowed me to get rid of my allergies. I stopped gluten, diary, red meat and refined sugar. I now only eat plant-based. I do not eat any animal products. It has been an interesting journey since my lows at the Australian Open in 2010.Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic’s Diet
The world No 1 diet is based on vegetables, beans, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils and healthy oils. Djokovic buys organic food wherever possible.
My Diet and the Doctor
Novak Djokovic states:
“When I get up I take a glass of warm water and lemon to help my body detoxify. I follow this with celery juice in an empty stomach.
Following a break I will have a green smoothie with algae, different fruits and superfoods and supplements.
For the first part of the day I eat lot’s of fruits and salads.
I don’t eat any foods that will require much energy for digestion especially in the 1st part of the day because that is when I need much energy for my Training.
I keep things quite light – I have grains such as quinoa, millet, wild rice, sweet potato and normal potato steamed or boiled.
Novak Djokovic Credits Diet for His Success
At the 2010 Australian Open Novak struggled on the court: respiratory, inability to cope with the heat, endurance issues even though he had been training hard… he was feeling weak, he suffered from blurred vision, he couldn’t catch his breath after each point was finished.
Between the 4th and 5th set he went out to throw up, his stomach was aching, his energy was low and his nose was blocked.
He says: “At the time I didn’t understand that there was the ‘nutrition’ part that was blocking me because I wasn’t eating correctly”.
I come from a culture that is based a lot on gluten which is in the wheat and we have bakeries at every corner… I used to have different bread baskets every single day. For example I would be eating pizza and have bread on the side. I would also have a lot of meat and refined sugar. I didn’t realize that all of these things cause a feeling of helpless on the court and a feeling of being powerless.Novak Djokovic
“I met Dr. Igor Cetojevic. He found out that I did not have Celiac Disease but I great sensitivity and intolerance to gluten, dairy products and refined sugar”.
|Gluten||Wheat, barley, rye and spelt|
|Dairy||Cow’s milk, yoghurt and cheese|
|Refined sugar||Soda pop, white sugar and candy|
Novak Djokovic: Choosing Tennis over Skiing
Novak Djokovic recounts:
I felt in love with tennis when I was four.
My dad, my uncle and my aunt were all competitive skiers. My father used to play soccer as well. My mom graduated from University in Sports so there in an athletic gene in the family. It is no accident that I ended up playing sport but it is a bit odd that I started playing tennis which was unknown in my family. I suppose it was a sign of destiny as they were building 3 tennis courts near the restaurant my parents were managing in the Serbian resort we lived in.
I am very grateful that my parents supported me in my wish to play tennis as a kid.
My mom was a pillar in the family. She had to put up with 4 men in a small apartment and she did everything: prepared 3 meals a day, did the washing, picked up the kids at school… she was and she is a super-woman.
My dad was the provider and the visionary but he had a small income and he had a family of five to support. It took a lot of guts and vision to support me to become a successful professional tennis player. He still finds the strength when it is needed the most and I believe I inherited that trait – on the court when I need to find a way and when I do find that strength… that is my dad in me.
Novak Djokovic Workout
Novak Djokovic Balance Workout
Novak Djokovic recommends that everyone should do a gluten intolerance test.
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