Before the current season, Djokovic switched to a gluten-free diet and suddenly most forms of processed carbohydrates became off-limits to him.
Just as suddenly, he grew into an unstoppable force on the tennis court. In January he defeated world No. 1 Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open. On Sunday, he beat Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters, his fourth-straight win over the Spaniard. It was his second win over Nadal on clay in two weeks without losing a set.
The 23-year-old attributes much of his success to his eating habits. Before he switched to a gluten-free diet, he was already a Grand Slam champion and No. 3 in the world. But after switching, his performance on the tennis court improved.
Common in starchy foods, gluten helps make bread rise and bagels chewy. But some people don’t digest it well, and in others it can exacerbate autoimmune disorders from eczema to multiple sclerosis. For those with celiac disease, gluten is especially harmful.
Djokovic said off-season testing determined he was allergic to gluten, prompting the drastic shift in his eating habits.
Those with an allergy to gluten often have trouble digesting the protein, which can lead to various medical issues. When he received the positive allergy test, Djokovic played it safe and cut out the starches altogether.
The gluten-free diet didn’t turn Novak Djokovic into a great tennis player. He was a Grand Slam champion and No. 3 in the world while eating the protein. The change may have turned him into a greater, more fit tennis player or it may have simply made him believe he was a greater, more fit tennis player. And, really, isn’t that the same thing?
There is one thing we can certainly look forward to – Novak Djokovic actually is on the paleo diet. If he is not strict, he certainly is not far away from true paleo.
Gluten Free Resources:
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