Tennis star Novak Djokovic is current favored to win the US Open. If he does, it will be yet another notch in his long line of victories, having swept 11 Majors and 26 Masters tournaments to date. Alongside his hard work, training, and skill, some observers are crediting Djokovic’s success to his current diet plan. There is also some wondering about whether he will end up adopting coach Boris Becker‘s prolific banana-eating habit during the tournament.
The Start of Novak Djokovic’s Gluten-Free Diet
The roots of Novak Djokovic eating gluten-free lie in 2010 during the Australian Open. Djokovic appeared ill during the one of the matches and even had to temporarily leave because he felt like vomiting. Afterwards, Djokovic was contacted by Dr. Igor Cetojevic, who saw the match and believed he had a gluten allergy.
The idea of a non-celiac gluten sensitivity is still under debate in the medical and scientific community and the method that Cetojevic used to “confirm” the allergy—going gluten-free for two weeks and then eating a bagel—has no scientific validity or diagnostic value. Regardless of evidence, some (Djokovic included) attribute the tennis player’s rocketing to the number one spot over the next year to his new diet plan.
For his gluten-free diet, Novak Djokovic prefers vegetables, nuts, beans, chickpeas, seeds, lentils, lean meats, and healthy oils. He cooks for himself whenever possible and will often refuse to stay in a hotel if the staff won’t let him use their kitchens.
When Novak Djokovic eats, he does so slowly and methodically. He will not use the phone, computer, or even watch television during meals in order to better focus and devote himself to his diet.
That Whole Banana Thing
You may have noticed that there is a lack of fruits in Djokovic’s main diet plan, so why would he start munching on bananas? The answer lies with Novak Djokovic’s coach, Boris Becker. Becker is a former tennis pro himself and in 1985 he became the youngest ever winner of the Wimbledon tournament at age 17.
While Becker was far from the first tennis player to include bananas in his diet, he became known for the sheer volume he appeared to consume. It was quite common, for instance, to see Becker chomp down a banana in between sets. Between his prolific consumption and at least one incidence where he actually brandished one in anger (I prefer to think he held it like a sword at the time), the association between Becker and bananas was easily cemented.
The yellow marvel is a highly energy-dense fruit, with about 111 calories in the average 126 g banana. It also contains a high concentration of potassium, which is useful for helping to avoid muscle cramps.
As Novak Djokovic’s coach, Becker is in the perfect position to try and pass on his habit to the next generation of tennis stars. Finding out whether he tries, and if he succeeds, will require keeping a careful watch as the US Open plays out.
Misra, R., “How diet fuels Novak Djokovic’s insatiable appetite for victory,” The Roar web site, February 15, 2016; http://www.theroar.com.au/2016/02/15/diet-fuels-novak-djokovics-insatiable-appetite-victory/, last accessed August 26, 2016.
“How Boris ‘Boom-Boom’ Becker Inspired The Banana Bunch,” Itineraries of Taste web site; https://itinerariesoftaste.sanpellegrino.com/how-we-were/how-boris-%E2%80%98boom-boom%E2%80%99-becker-inspired-banana-bunch, last accessed August 26, 2016.