Novak Djokovic (Player Info) has just published a new book. Serve to Win: The 14-day Gluten-Free Plan for Mental and Physical Excellence explains that a change of diet helped the world number one become the celebrated warrior that he is today.
Here are ten interesting revelations…
1. A Serbian nutritionist, Dr Igor Cetojevic, suspected that Djokovic was gluten intolerant after watching him lose to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open 2010.
2. The doctor arranged a meeting with Djokovic and his team, and diagnosed the imbalance in the player’s digestive system by asking him to perform an “arm test”. Cetojevic pressed down on Djokovic right arm, asking him to resist. The test was then repeated with Djokovic holding a slice of bread against his stomach. “I was noticeably weaker,” Djokovic remarked.
3. Making radical adjustments to his diet wasn’t easy for Djokovic, who loved pasta, bread, meat and chocolate and regularly indulged in pizza at his parents’ restaurant near Belgrade.
4. Nowadays, Djokovic thrives by eating vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils and healthy oils.
5. As well as recommending organic food, Djokovic is a vocal advocate of the benefits of Manuka honey, which comes from bees who consume the nectar of the Manuka flower, found in New Zealand. A pot of Manuka honey can cost up to €50.
6. Djokovic says a prayer before each meal as a reminder that he should always appreciate and enjoy food.
7. Djokovic drinks water at room temperature because cold water slows digestion and diverts blood away from the muscles. He also likes to have “a little bit of colour” in his urine.
8. The iron man of tennis has an iron willpower too. Despite craving candy after his legendary five-set defeat of Rafael Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open final, Djokovic allowed himself only one square of chocolate as a reward for his Herculean efforts.
9. Djokovic has joked (?) that his pet dog Pierre is also on the gluten-free diet.
10. While the message in Serve to Win has been well received by nutritionists and the general public, some of Djokovic’s fellow tennis players seem less convinced. Roger Federer said he was reluctant to take analysis of his diet to “the next level”, while Nadal opined, “The gluten-free diet is great now, but in a few years another thing will be great, and the gluten-free diet will not work any more.”