Novak Djokovic became the No. 1 tennis player in the world after switching to a gluten-free diet three years ago. Djokovic revealed his diet and training secrets in his new book, Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence.
In the book, Djokovic revealed that he follows a gluten-free, low-sugar diet and even abstained from chocolate for a year and a half.
His other nutrition secrets include the following:
- Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day;
- Avoid dairy, caffeine and alcohol during tournaments;
- Consume shakes made with pea-protein concentrate;
- Eat lots of avocados and cashew butter;
- Drastically cut back on sugar consumption;
- Eat manuka honey from New Zealand.
“The first thing I do out of bed is to drink a tall glass of room-temperature water,” Novak wrote in Serve to Win. “The second thing I do might really surprise you: I eat two spoonfuls of honey every day.”
The Serbian tennis phenom said warm water is better for digestion and muscle replenishment than cold drinks. But by far, the biggest change in Djokovic’s diet has been eliminating gluten.
In 2010, Novak hired a nutritionist and was tested for food intolerances, which indicated he was allergic to wheat and dairy. Since then, Djokovic has followed a high-protein, gluten-free diet and has been dominating on the tennis court. He now avoids most starches, including pizza and pasta.
The 6-foot-2 Djokovic, who weighs around 176 pounds, initially lost weight after cutting gluten out of his diet (a result he was not trying to achieve), but insists it has only helped his game.
Since going gluten-free, Novak has experienced improved overall health. “My allergies abated; my asthma disappeared; my fears and doubts were replaced by confidence,” he wrote. “I have not had a serious cold or flu in nearly three years.”
Djokovic’s other training secrets include:
- Doing yoga and tai chi;
- Taking melatonin supplements;
- Sitting in a pressurized CVAC pod, which simulates high-altitude training;
- Getting seven to eights hours of sleep every night.
While Djokovic admits some of his fitness secrets are unconventional, he said incorporating different ideas into his training has been a boon to him physically and psychologically. “What matters is not whether you believe in or follow these particular approaches,” he wrote. “What matters is that you are open-minded.”