Southern California Tennis

Beyond The Score: Taking a Closer Look at Djokovic’s Diet

By Lisa Thomas

Today we look at Djokovic and marvel at his fitness, stamina and trim physique.  A little more than five years ago he was in a very different position. His body was not performing, he had a reputation among players as a joke and at crucial times would be forced to drop out of tournaments because of bad health.

In 2010 Djokovic was approached by a Serbian doctor who, after watching him collapse on court decided to see if a change in diet could help to turn around the tennis star’s performance.  The doctor determined that his diet was the root of some of his problems and together they put into practice a regime that takes into consideration what, when and how Novak eats.


What we see today is a trimmer, more energetic and clear headed player that is keeping his place at the top of a very competitive field.

The first step was to eliminate gluten from his diet, cutting out bread and pasta which he admits were mainstays in his diet.  After a few weeks on a gluten-free diet he cut down on sugar and then cut out dairy.

In 2014 Novak revealed these changes in significant detail with a lot of personal insights in his book, Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence.

In his book he says he starts his day with a glass of room temperature water and a couple of teaspoons of raw honey.

A article shared an example of Novak’s daily diet:


Most days start with honey, fruit and oat based cereal mix.  “Your body needs sugar,” says Djokovic.  “In particular, it needs fructose, the sugar found in fruits, some vegetables and especially honey.”


He focuses on carbs and maximizing his vegetable-based intake at lunch. “During the day, I want my body to be as energized as possible,” says Djokovic.  “When I eat carbs and very little protein, I’m telling my body that I need energy”


Dinner is a protein-rich, low-carb meal of fish, chicken or grass-fed beef.  “At night, I don’t need energy.” says Djokovic.  “So at dinner, I will tell my body to repair this mess I have made. Please take this protein and do what needs to be done.”

Djokovic’s book shares the changes he made.  He also suggests that if you constantly feel tired and unfit then try undertaking a similar dietary change.  He believes that if you find the right balance for your body, not exactly the same as his, or anyone else’s for that matter, then you could realize significant physical and mental effect in around two weeks.  For some people gluten is a needed part of their diet so he stresses that you have to work out what makes sense for you.

When you take a look at the before and after of Novak Djokovic, it is hard to ignore the evidence.  But as Djokovic says in his book, “Most diet plans assume the same plan works for everyone and that you “Must” eat certain foods.  “Must” just isn’t a good word.  Your body is an entirely different machine from mine.  I don’t want you to eat the best diet for my body.  I’m going to show you how to find the best diet for your own unique self.”

Food for thought.  Perhaps it is worth investigating further if indeed you could use a little more energy, sleep better, afford to lose a pound or two and simply want to feel better overall.

About the author: Lisa Thomas is a 25-year communications consultant working globally with multi national high-tech and biotech companies.  She is an avid tennis league player and mother of two high school varsity athletes.  Lisa graduated from Griffith University in Australia and is now a 20-year resident of La Jolla, California.

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