another victory for Novak—Wimbledon 7/2011

a healthier diet for Djokovic

a healthier diet for Djokovic

Novak Djokovic has gone from number three in tennis rankings to number one in a very short time. How did he do this?

He overcame the mental hurdle, he lost weight by removing wine and pizza from his diet, and he tweaked his service motion to result in 69 more aces and 125 fewer double faults than at the same point last season.

This from Tom Perrotta’s article in The Wall Street Journal: How did Novak Djokovic conquer the tennis world?

Maybe the answer is as simple as this: Since last year, he’s swearing off pasta, pizza, beer, French bread, Corn Flakes, pretzels, empanadas, Mallomars and Twizzlers—anything with gluten…

David Levitsky (a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University) said a gluten-free diet might have benefits for those with mild allergies, or even no allergy at all. “The other part of the story is, if you believe in a cause of your disorder, it becomes the cause,” he said. “We see this in many different studies. If you believe it, you change your behavior in the direction of being cured.”

In tennis, something small often leads to a big boost in confidence.

Another article by Dr. Barbara Berkeley reports that Andy Murray has adopted the same no carbohydrate diet:

“Is it possible that, in fact, cutting out carbohydrates made Djokovic into a better athlete? Is it possible that everything we’ve believed about the importance of loading our muscles with tons of starches is untrue? Is it possible that we can play endlessly taxing endurance sports without jamming ourselves full of pasta and potatoes? And is it possible that we might be better off for it?

It seems that world number 4 Andy Murray thought so. He has adopted the Djokovic diet. How much do you want to bet that others follow…

I have held a consistent view on diet and it is a view that I believe holds up when one examines Djokovic’s transformation. Rather than worry about individual dietary elements, we should attempt to eat foods that are most like the ones are bodies understand genetically. Since our genes are thousands of generations old, we need to look at the foods that were prevalent in those times: lean proteins, fats that come from natural sources (and thus have higher omega 3-6 ratios), vegetable and fruit matter, seafood, nuts and other naturally occurring plant foods. Suars and starches (including grain) were not a part of that original diet and are processed poorly or even cause overt harm in those of us who are more “original” genetically. In addition, our body has certain fuel expectations. Large amounts of carbohydrate as fuel seem to me to be inconsistent with what our body was fine-tuned to expect.

In my own practice I treat many tennis players and runners who are significantly overweight despite many hours of intense exercise. When they change their diet to one that is primarily Primarian, they not only lose weight but they become more efficient at their sports.”

The new diet has definitely paid off for Djokovic who said, “I have lost some weight but it’s only helped me because my movement is much sharper now and I feel great physically.”