For many years now Novak Djokovic has been an advocate of a plant-based diet, which the World No. 1 believes is a major contributor to his on-court success. And in a recent interview with American journalist Graham Bensinger, the Serb described exactly how ditching diary, meat and gluten has helped him elevate his game.
Djokovic said that back in 2007, when he was still a teenager, he had to endure a frustrating spell of what he described as 'allergies' or a 'mild version of asthma'. That would constantly put brakes on his game, especially during long matches, and was a big reason for his frequent mid-match retirements.
Djokovic lamented that trying different workouts and undergoing a nasal surgery to remove the clogging in the nose offered little help. So he turned to dietary changes.
Eliminating diary, gluten and refined sugar brought about the transformation: Novak Djokovic
Paying heed to the advice that he received from fellow Serb and nutritionist Dr. Igor Cetojevic in 2010, Djokovic said that avoiding all forms of dairy, followed by going on a gluten-free diet and gradually eliminating refined sugars, helped him immensely. The transition to a complete plant-based diet followed.
Novak Djokovic starts his day with warm water and lemon followed by celery juice
Djokovic revealed that the first thing he drinks after waking up is warm water infused with lemon, which is followed by celery juice. After that, it's a smoothie made of a blend of different fruits and algae.
Djokovic added that he also takes superfood supplements, which help him gain 'mental clarity'.
"I eat a lot of fruit during the first part of the day and salads," Djokovic said. "I don't like to eat any food that would require much energy for digestion, especially during the first part of the day because that's when I need the most energy for my training. So I'm keeping things quite light and would probably have some grains like quinoa, millet and wild rice. Sweet potato and normal potato, steamed or boiled."
I don't like to be labeled a vegan: Novak Djokovic
Djokovic, who in the past has attributed his fast recovery times on the court to a strict plant-based diet, is not a big fan of labels. Elaborating on why he doesn't call himself a vegan, the Serb said:
"I don't like the labels, to be honest. I do eat plant-based (food), for quite a few years already. But because of the misinterpretations of labels and misuse of labels, I just don't like that kind of name."
Djokovic went on to add that the allergies that were bothering him in his younger years are now a thing of the past. The transition to a whole plant-based diet has helped eliminate them altogether.
In a chat last month with Dr. Dragan Ivanov, a specialist in internal medicine, Djokovic also revealed that he believes in the power of intermittent fasting. The World No. 1 regularly practices fasting for at least 16 hours without food, which he claims helps in the healing of his body.
A combination of a vegan-diet, a Spanish spiritual guru, family hugging sessions, ruthless consistency and a burning desire to win titles have all, in different proportions, catapulted Novak Djokovic to the upper echelons of tennis history.