This athlete is currently ranked number one in men’s singles tennis and has been the top player on and off for many years. Does this tennis player’s diet have anything to do with his success?
Novak Djokovic does eat eggs. Eggs make up just a small part of his diet, though, as he has eaten a primarily plant-based diet after he found out that he was intolerant of both gluten and dairy in 2010.
Read on to find out more about how he found out about his allergies and the winning diet he maintains now.
Early Career and Discovery
Djokovic has been a beast on the court for as long as many people can remember, but it hasn’t always been that way. He started playing tennis when he was four years old and became a professional player at sixteen years old in 2003 when he entered the ATP World Tour.
While Djokovic quickly became a huge name in tennis, steadily rising through the ranks and winning various tournaments and titles. Despite his seemingly unstoppable success, Djokovic needed many medical breaks during games as he suffered from mid-match illnesses and collapses that kept him from reaching his full potential.
No one knew the cause of his ailments until 2010 during the Australian Open quarter-final match when he played against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga won the match after Djokovic unexpectedly fell ill, vomiting during a break, being unable to draw a full breath, and feeling completely, physically drained.
In the audience was the nutritionist and acupuncturist Dr. Igor Cetojevic, who joined Djokovic’s personal team after he allegedly used applied kinesiology to find that Djokovic cannot eat gluten.
As the story goes, Cetojevic told Djokovic to hold his left arm against his abdomen and his right arm out, and to resist the pressure that Cetojevic applied to his right arm. At first, Djokovic did this very easily, but then Cetojevic had him hold a piece of bread against his abdomen with his left arm and repeated the experiment.
Djokovic found that he lost a lot of his strength, and could no longer resist the pressure that Cetojevic put on his right arm. This test proved to the tennis star that he had a gluten allergy, and couldn’t touch wheat, let alone eat it.
With further blood tests, Cetojevic also found that Djokovic was lactose intolerant. His mysterious illnesses on the court were actually reactions his body was having to food it couldn’t handle.
Djokovic then adjusted his diet accordingly and no longer suffers from his food intolerances. But what exactly is Djokovic’s diet?
Djokovic’s New Diet
In changing his diet, Djokovic felt stronger and more energetic than he did before. GQ’s Jessica Campbell explains that “Djokovic follows a gluten- and dairy-free diet. He also cuts out as much sugar as possible, tending to stick to vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and healthy oils.”
In his book, Serve to Win, Djokovic provides outlines of three full days worth of meals on top of more exact details of his diet.
“I haven’t been eating meat since August-September 2015, both for ethical and health reasons,” Djokovic said in a 2017 interview. “I eat fish and eggs though. At the moment I don’t want to eat meat again.”
So while his diet is mostly plant-based, Djokovic does eat both eggs and fish. He also avoids the term ‘vegan,’ drawing a line between veganism and following a plant-based diet.
“Because of the misinterpretations of labels and misuse of labels, I just don’t like that kind of name,” he explains. “I do eat plant-based.”
And it definitely works for him. His diet has led him to great success, so he can post celebratory pictures on Instagram like this one.
Check out the YouTube video below of Djokovic’s interview with Graham Bensinger to learn more about his diet.