Djokovic, known typically for hogging the newswaves with his phenomenal tennis skills and achievements, has also come into the media spotlight for something linked to such achievements - his diet. 'Gluten-free' has been a buzzword bandied around tennis circles (particularly the amateur ones where a higher percentage of players tend to be gratuitously health-obsessed, compared to the more professional ones) ever since Djokovic took the world by storm in 2011 with one of tennis history's most remarkable seasons. It is as if the one reason behind his success is his diet. Although we think this health factor is massively played up, we still think it deserves attention given our slavish attachment to the adage that you are what you eat. So here is a quite comprehensive list of food recommended by the champion himself, for optimal tennis performance, and also health.
I eat fruit, but in a controlled way so I don’t overload myself with sugar. Still, if you’re going to have sugar, the natural fructose in fruit is the better kind. Plus, fruit delivers nutrients. I especially love berries of all kinds, but in small servings. - Novak Djokovic
The champion said it.
Seeds and Nuts
The main reason Djokovic recommended seeds and nuts is its minerals. Contained in them are minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus needed for bone development, efficient energy production and immune system maintenance and repair. Such attachment to seeds and nuts for their health benefits is backed up by science, as several studies undertaken have found that subjects who consumed a higher amount of magnesium had significantly less inflammation than those with the lower intake levels! Inflammation is linked to nearly every disease, such as the all too common heart disease and Type II diabetes.
Legumes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber, and a highly satiating food. This means that for a rather low amount of calories legumes make you feel fuller longer and, therefore, help prevent the hunger that can lead to unhealthy snacking and unwanted pounds. For around 115 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked lentils provides about 9 grams of protein, 20 grams of mostly complex carbohydrates and less than half a gram of fat. It also provides nearly 8 grams of fiber, or 31 percent of the recommended daily value. Typical legumes contain significant amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber. Eating legumes a couple of times a week promotes bowel regularity and helps keep blood sugar levels in check.
By healthy oils here we are referring mainly to olive oil. Regular consumption of them would make you healthier on two fronts - the heart and immune systems. Research has shown that the phytochemicals in olive oil can fight cholesterol and prevent heart disease. The blood is "thinned" in by certain chemical reactions caused by such phytochemicals. Inflammation - in spite of the nefarious-sounding name - is the immune system's first line of defense against injury and infection. It's a natural process the purpose of which is to heal. However too much of such a good thing harmful to the body, even going so far as causing organ damage and diabetes. Olive oil could help here as it contains a compound called oleocanthal which controls inflammation!
Meat foods have the highest concentrations of protein. It is no surprise that Djokovic has such food type on his routine to-eat list. However, there is a catch, the meat has to be sourced from healthy and clean animals. What does this mean, you may wonder? It means that you should only be eating grass-fed beef, non-farmed fish, free range poultry, game meats and free range eggs to ensure your protein in our meat has a healthy balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Organic food, basically! According to a study, while Omega 3 decreases the production of inflammatory agents that feed the pro-inflammatory pathways of your body, resulting in decreased Chronic Systemic Inflammation, Omega 6 typically promotes more pro-inflammatory pathways throughout your body. Do not fret if your food contains some Omega 6 though, as Omega 6 when present in food in small amounts gives off no harm. In fact a lot of healthy foods contain Omega 6’s such as poultry, eggs, avocado, nuts and seeds!
Given that the knowledge that the eating of vegetables is quite universal, its benefits should not be recycled here. Instead, we will drop a list of some of Djokovic's picks:
Baby Bok Choy
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