How Changing His Diet Propelled Novak Djokovic’s Career

Posted by Chris Pageau on
How Changing His Diet Propelled Novak Djokovic’s Career

It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when Novak Djokovic was known for collapsing in the middle of a match. This was obviously a very big problem, and Djokovic, who is now the number one ranked tennis player in the world, did everything he can to combat this weakness.  

He and his team I initially attributed his exhaustion to many things, such as asthma, his training regimen, and even his nasal cavities. Eventually, they realized that his exhaustion is caused by one very critical thing: his nutrition. 

In this article, we will be discussing Novak Djokovic’s diet, from the revamps to his pre-match meal routines, to the changes he made to get rid of his exhaustion problems on the court. This article may also help you if you are trying to build a diet plan to maximize your performance. 

A Complete Overhaul 

His journey towards proper nutrition started during his faceoff with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2010 Australian Open, in which he suffered from extreme physical exhaustion. While he eventually lost the match, Djokovic understood that changes had to be made.  

His nutritionist, Dr. Cetojevic, soon found that Djokovic has an imbalance in his digestive system, which is why he suggested that Djokovic overhaul his eating habits and transition into a gluten-free diet. Djokovic acknowledged this, and fully revamped not only his pre-match meal routines, but his overall diet plan. He felt the benefits very quickly: he now has more energy, gets more sleep, and most importantly, his newfound endurance is a signature strength of his tennis game.

After feeling the benefits of a changed diet, Djokovic decided that this was going to be his lifestyle from then on. 

Today, Djokovic still continues to exercise extreme discipline with the way that he eats. In his book, Serve to Win, he describes an instance when he celebrated his win against Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open, in which Novak, despite craving chocolate (something that he hasn’t had for 18 months at that time), only ate a small piece of the bar that was given to him. 

Serve to Win also gave a three-day sample of Djokovic’s diet plan, which you can try for yourself: 

Day One 

Breakfast: 

Water first thing out of bed; two tablespoons of honey; muesli (including organic gluten-free rolled oats, cranberries, raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and almonds) 

Mid-morning snack (if needed): 

Gluten-free bread or crackers with avocado and tuna  

Lunch: 

Mixed-greens salad, gluten-free pasta primavera (including rice pasta, summer squash, courgettes, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and optional vegan cheese) 

Mid-afternoon snack Apple with cashew butter; melon 

Dinner: 

Kale caesar salad (kale, fennel, quinoa, and pine nuts) plus dressing (including anchovies or sardines); minestrone soup; salmon fillets (skin on) with roasted tomatoes and marinade 

Day Two 

Breakfast: 

Water first thing out of bed; two tablespoons of honey; banana with cashew butter; fruit 

Mid-morning snack (if needed): 

Gluten-free toast with almond butter and honey 

Lunch: 

Mixed-greens salad, spicy soba noodle salad (including gluten-free soba noodles, red bell pepper, rocket, cashews and basil leaves, plus spicy vinaigrette) 

Mid-afternoon snack: 

Fruit and nut bar; fruit 

Dinner: 

Tuna nicoise salad (green beans, cannellini beans, rocket, tuna, red pepper, tomatoes, and canned chickpeas), tomato soup, roasted tomatoes 

Day Three 

Breakfast: 

Water first thing out of bed; two tablespoons of honey; gluten-free oats with cashew butter and bananas; fruit 

Mid-morning snack (if needed): 

Home-made hummus (including chickpeas and gluten-free soy sauce) with apples/crudités 

Lunch: 

Mixed-greens salad, gluten-free pasta with power pesto (including rice pasta, walnuts, and basil leaves) 

Mid-afternoon snack: 

Avocado with gluten-free crackers; fruit 

Dinner: 

Fresh mixed-greens salad with avocado and home-made dressing; carrot and ginger soup; whole lemon-roasted chicken  

If you are looking for a diet plan for junior tennis players, Djokovic’s diet may be too strict, especially if you are just starting out. However, the key takeaway from this article is that your nutrition is just as important as your gear or your training regimen. If you are seeking new ways to optimize your performance on the court, try taking a closer look at what you’re eating and it would be wise to keep an eye on what you eat if ever you want to do well on the court. 

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