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Eat to Win: Novak Djokovic reveals more about his gluten-free diet
In his recent interview with the BBC, the 20-time Grand Slam champion spoke about being a "great student of wellness."
Published Feb 18, 2022
Novak Djokovic made his first on-camera interview following the chaos that ensued in Melbourne over his vaccination status—which ultimately led to his deportation from Australia—earlier this week with the BBC. The world No. 1 missed the year's first major and Rafael Nadal took the lead for most Grand Slam singles titles on the men's side, with 21. Djokovic is aware that his decisions make it difficult to travel and play tournaments, but he is "willing to pay" that price.
In the interview, Djokovic opened up about the importance of being "in tune" with his body, and revealed more about his detailed diet. Extremely mindful of his health and what he puts into his body, he told the BBC his body is more important than any title.
"The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can," he said.
Over a decade ago, Djokovic made massive changes to his diet, thanks to his doctor and fellow Serbian Dr. Igor Cetojevic, who discovered back in 2010 Djokovic's sensitivity to gluten.
Cetojevic asked Djokovic to stretch out his right arm and place his left hand on his stomach. He then applied pressure to Djokovic's right arm by pushing down on it while Djokovic resisted the pressure. The Grand Slam champ's strength was solid, but when asked to hold a loaf of bread in his left hand while he pushed down on his right arm, Djokovic was left in shock. His arm felt significantly weaker.
Looking back on this paramount day, Djokovic believes this changed the course of his career and is one of the most important contributions to his on-court success. At the time, he was suffering from mid-match collapses, but the finding led to a complete change in his lifestyle which would see him to the top spot just 12 months later. Because of his intolerance to gluten, along with dairy and a mild sensitivity to tomatoes, Cetojevic devised a detailed regime.
It wasn't an easy thing to hear for Djokovic. No more bread, cheese, and pasta is likely sad news for anyone, but even more so someone whose parents owned a pizzeria. But he was ready to make the necessary changes to improve and be the best player possible.
Cetojevic asked Djokovic to maintain a strictly gluten-free diet for two weeks and the results were instant. Feeling lighter, energized and even catching better quality Z's, the Serb's suspect fitness quickly became a thing of the past.
When asked to eat one bagel following the two-week gluten-free trial, Djokovic found himself fatigued and even showcasing symptoms of a hangover. From there he made the full-time switch to a gluten-free diet and ever since has taken what goes in and out of his body seriously. Very seriously, as it turns out.
Djokovic is currently in Dubai for the ATP 500 event which begins Monday.