Diet that made Novak Djokovic World No. 1

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Novak Djokovic has nailed it again at the Wimbledon 2015 by winning Men’s singles title. The 28-year-old looks invincible – in his prime of health, and an epitome of stamina. One ESPN article goes on to say that he is perhaps the fittest athlete ever!

Novak’s journey to the top is a fascinating story of hard work, mental conditioning, and most crucially, strict dietary discipline. And Novak tells it all in his 2013 book, Serve To Win.

Until a few years back, Novak was struggling during his matches. He suffered mid-match collapses, looked listless, and vomited often during breaks.

But everything changed in the summer of 2010 when Novak met nutritionist Dr. Igor Cetojevic. Igor diagnosed Novak with gluten intolerance and put him on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley and rye. In some people, gluten may not digest properly and the body may react in various ways like unexplained aches, fatigue, headache, joint pain, bloating, and other digestion problems. Approximately 5% of the population shows some form of gluten intolerance.

The results of Novak’s diet change were immediate. He felt stronger and healthier than before and his stamina improved remarkably. He went on to become the World No. 1 within a year of this change, and has stayed on top for the most part ever since.

Here is a glimpse of the diet that transformed Novak’s life:

  • Diet based on vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, chickpeas, lentils and healthy oils.
  • Does not eat wheat and dairy products and has cut down on sugar to the lowest.
  • Drinks water first thing out of bed with honey and muesli which is rolled gluten free oats with dry fruits, nuts and seeds.
  • Takes some gluten-free crackers with avocado and Tuna as mid-morning snack or hummus with gluten-free bread.
  • Lunch consists of rice pasta with veggies and optional Vegan cheese.
  • Melon or apple with cashew nut butter as post-lunch snack.
  • Consumes salads like Kale Caesar salad plus anchovies dressing, Minestrone soup, salmon fillet with roasted tomatoes and marinade or poultry such as chicken.

He made certain lifestyle changes too that helped him reach the pinnacle:

  • Regular meditation and yoga or Tai- Chi that helps in reducing stress.
  • Followed by gluten-free healthy breakfast.
  • With his training partner does stretching or sports massage.
  • Does one hour work-out post lunch using weights/resistance bands and takes a protein drink after that.
  • Another 90 minutes training session followed by stretching and a sports massage.

It has taken immense discipline on part of Novak to stick with this diet and lifestyle, and we wish that he soon claims that elusive French Open title as well! Meanwile, you can read more about the athlete’s amazing story in these articles: The Independent; The Wall Street Journal

The best breakfast foods

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In our last blog, we saw how a hearty breakfast makes for a healthy and happy you. In this blog, we look at what makes for a hearty breakfast!

Nutritionists say that a good breakfast combines good amount of carbs and fiber with some protein. Following are some great breakfast foods:

  • Oats: Contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that helps lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Also rich in omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fats), folate, and potassium. Health tip: Avoid flavored oats. Instead, sweeten your bowl with milk and a bit of honey, and top with fruit and nuts.
  • Greek yogurt: Loaded with calcium and protein. Health tip: Choose a plain, non-fat variety, and add some fruit.
  • Bananas: One of the best sources of resistant starch, a healthy carbohydrate that keeps you feeling fuller longer. Also rich in potassium, an electrolyte that helps lower blood pressure naturally.
  • Eggs: Healthy source of protein and vitamin D. Health tip: Avoid the yolk!
  • Almond butter, Peanut butter: Great alternate sources of protein if you don’t eat eggs or dairy products. Contain about 100 Calories per tablespoon and are filled with monounsaturated fat (one of the good fats).
  • Watermelon: Excellent way to hydrate in the morning. Also one of the best sources of lycopene – a nutrient found in red fruits and vegetables that’s important for vision, heart health, and cancer prevention.
  • Flax seeds: Gold mine of omega-3 fatty acids; just two tablespoons contains more than 100% of your recommended daily intake! Also rich in fiber and lignan, an antioxidant. Health tip: Whole flaxseeds can pass through your body without being digested, so consume after grinding.
  • Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries): Berries are high in antioxidants (anthocyanins, ellagitannins), without being high in calories. Also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, and fiber.
  • Coffee, Tea: Source of antioxidants (catechins), especially green tea. (A 2005 study found that coffee is the number-one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet!) Health tip: Avoid cream and sugar; stick with skimmed milk.

 

A more detailed account of 20 great breakfast foods is presented in this Health magazine article >> Link

Breakfast like a king!

Breakfast

An intriguing study was published in July 2013 in the health journal Obesity. 74 overweight women were selected and divided into two groups. The first group was put on a heavy-breakfast, light-dinner diet, and the second group, the opposite. The total daily calories for both groups were kept the same. The diet continued for 3 months.

The results were fascinating. After 3 months, the heavy-breakfast ladies had lost about 5 kilos more than their heavy-dinner counterparts, despite consuming the same amount of daily calories!

This study is a great illustration of the importance of timing in meals. Breakfast is widely considered to be the most important meal of the day, and yet, unfortunately, a good 20% of the urban population ends up skipping breakfast thanks to their early morning dash to work.

But why is breakfast so important?

First, breakfast is the human body and mind’s wake-up call. The body needs a dose of energy to get going after the 8-9 hour gap since dinner, otherwise its functions remain sluggish and the person feels tired and sleepy all morning.

Second, the aftermath: By skipping breakfast we tend to eat more at lunch, and all those extra lunch calories do us no good. After all, how many calories can you burn on lazy office afternoons! So in a way, skipping breakfast could actually make you fat!

We clearly stand a better chance of burning more calories in the earlier part of the day, so it is wiser to stock-up on calories at breakfast. As is rightly said, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”!

In our next blog we will look at some great breakfast foods. Till then, make enough space on your breakfast table!

Understanding Calories (and calories)

caloriesSimply put, “calorie” is a unit of energy. There are two types of calories:

  • Small calorie (symbol: cal), aka the Scientific calorie; and,
  • Large calorie (symbol: Cal, kcal), aka the Nutritional calorie

Mathematically, 1 large calorie (1 Cal, or 1 kcal) = 1,000 small calories (1,000 cal).

When talking about food, you will always encounter the large Calorie, i.e., Cal. An average adult requires around 2,000 Cal per day to fuel all body functions. (By comparison, running one mile burns just about 100 Cal.)

Everything you consume has Calories. A gram of fat has 9 Cal. A gram of carbs has 4 Cal, same as a gram of protein. So it is quite easy to calculate which food has how many Calories, and how much of that stuff you should be eating. A regular pizza slice has 270 Cal. A 350ml can of Coke Classic has 140 Cal. An apple has 80 Cal. Ingesting too few Calories can make you lethargic, and ingesting more than you require can fatten you up.

So, how much actual energy does 1 Cal represent, in tangible terms? It’s really simple:

1 Cal is the amount of energy that can heat up one liter of water by one degree Celsius.

So, 50 Cal can heat up one liter of water by 50 degrees Celsius.

And, 100 Cal would be enough to boil a liter of ice water!

Wait, does that mean you could actually burn Calories by drinking ice water? Absolutely yes! Let’s see how many:

Ice water is at zero degrees Celsius. Suppose you drink up a liter of it. Your body heats it up to your body temperature, i.e., 37 degrees Celsius. Congratulations, you just burned 37 Cal in this process!

Here’s a nice video on the same: