The Novak Djokovic diet – GOAT nutrition explained

Many tennis fans are aware of the legendary Novak Djokovic diet. The Serbian is absolutely meticulous about what he puts in his body. And evidently – the results of following such a strict diet have been outstanding. 

However, at the beginning of Novak Djokovic’s career, ironically, it was his diet that caused many of his physical ailments. Of course, one could argue that these ailments prevented him from growing into the player that he is today. 

Novak Djokovic Diet
Photo by Icon Sport

Then again, the days of Djokovic looking fatigued and struggling on the court are long gone. In fact, well over a decade has passed since Djokovic experienced issues resulting from his diet. And today, he stands alone as the greatest tennis player of all time. 

With 24 Grand Slam titles, $170+ million in prize money earned (not to mention Djokovic’s net worth), and many other accolades, Djokovic really is an icon of the game. Yet if the famous ‘Novak Djokovic diet’ never adjusted to what it is today, one has to wonder whether he would have achieved such incredible things in tennis.

Of course, it’s Djokovic’s diet that I will be discussing with you today. So let’s now get into the key information.

Novak Djokovic diet – the turning point in his career

As referenced above, Novak Djokovic wasn’t always the physical specimen that we all know today. In fact, things used to be very different. 

Rewind the clock close to 15 years – Djokovic retired from plenty of competitive matches with injuries, respiratory problems, fatigue, and other issues. However, even then, he was a top-level tennis player who followed a strict fitness and strength regime. So of course, it was perplexing for the Serbian and his team that he was experiencing so many issues with his health.

This all changed when Djokovic connected with Dr Igor Cetojevic – a Serbian nutritionist who just happened to be watching Djokovic during an on-court struggle. Through mutual connections, Dr Igor Cetojevic was able to meet with and assess Djokovic for several potential dietary concerns that could be fueling his issues.

As it turned out, Cetojevic discovered that the Serbian suffered from gluten and dairy intolerances – also referred to as ‘gluten and dairy sensitivities’. From here, as they say, the rest is history.

The Novak Djokovic diet was then born, although it would take a number of years to finetune his nutrition to create the beast that we see today.

Principles of the Novak Djokovic diet

Now it’s time to discuss the meat on the bones, so to speak. After all, you’ve come here seeking answers as to what the Novak Djokovic diet consists of. So now, allow me to give you a full breakdown of his diet.

Plant-based nutrition

There are many studies out there about the benefits of following a plant-based diet. And arguably, Novak Djokovic is the number one ambassador in following a plant based nutrition plan – at least in the sphere of professional athletes. 

This means that meat-based protein is out of the window, and of course, his food options are subsequently limited compared to most people. Specifically, because of his plant-based approach, the Novak Djokovic diet consists largely of legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based options. 

Dairy and gluten-free only

Although many of us would struggle when sticking to a plant-based diet, Djokovic has taken things a step further. As mentioned earlier, due to his gluten and dairy intolerances, Novak Djokovic has gone ‘cold turkey’ in these areas too.

This means that he avoids any and all products that have gluten or dairy in them. To further explain – he avoids gluten to reduce the chances of inflammation in his body, which is a common reaction in those sensitive to gluten. 

Secondly, he avoids dairy, which can often cause bloating, nausea, and other unwanted side effects in those who struggle with lactose intolerance. 

Hydration strategies

I’ve covered the fundamentals of the Novak Djokovic diet in terms of what he tends to eat above. However, I’ve yet to touch on one of the more interesting elements of the Serbian’s diet – dubbed as ‘hydration strategies’ in his own words.

So, what exactly does this mean? Well, it simply means he follows an approach to maintain optimum hydration levels. For example, Djokovic drinks primarily water to hydrate, although it is also highly likely that he uses some form of electrolyte supplement to replenish liquids lost during training and competition. 

He even drinks ‘room temperature’ water so that his body can absorb the water in the most efficient way possible.

Complex carbohydrates and nutrient-rich foods

Finally, as a top-level athlete, Novak Djokovic obviously requires greater energy reserves compared with the rest of us. But as the Novak Djokovic diet confirms – this doesn’t mean that he can just shovel the calories in to keep his energy levels high. It’s far more complex than that.

Take his approach to complex carbohydrates as an example – Djokovic only consumes ‘slow release’ carbohydrates that come from sources like sweet potatoes. This enables him to maintain optimal energy levels while eliminating the risks of ‘crashes’. 

Additionally, Djokovic focuses on foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, protein, as well as vitamins C and B12. 

Primary benefits of Novak Djokovic’s diet

In order to put the cherry on top of this assessment of the Novak Djokovic diet, I have to highlight the primary benefits. After all, each decision that Djokovic has made concerning his dietary changes has been made for a reason. 

This final section truly emphasizes how serious, professional, and dedicated Djokovic is with regard to his diet. So – what are these benefits that Djokovic is hunting by following such a diet? 

Let me highlight the main benefits now:

  • Improved recovery rates
  • Optimized energy levels
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Optimized body composition

Note that this list isn’t extensive – these are simply the key benefits of Novak Djokovic’s diet that have a direct impact on what he can do on a tennis court. 

Of course, such benefits roll over into his life in general too, but these benefits certainly give us a glimpse of how Djokovic can do such ‘superhuman’ things in tennis.

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