Monday, May 16, 2011

"The Diet That Shook Up Tennis"

"Novak Djokovic's Gluten-Free Ascendancy"

"...Djokovic's serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal's famously high-bouncing forehand. And then there's the gluten.

"Last year, Djokovic's nutritionist discovered that Djokovic is allergic to the protein, which is found in common flours. Djokovic banished it from his diet and lost a few pounds. He says he now feels much better on court.

"A gluten-free diet can have implications far beyond the physical, especially in tennis, which taxes the mind like few other sports. The season is 11 months long, matches are grueling and can last for hours, and the slightest dip in a player's confidence can derail months of hard work. There's never anyone else to blame for a match gone awry.

"'It's mostly mental energy you're talking about, not energy supplied to muscle tissues,' said David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, when asked about the effects of giving up gluten if one has an allergy. (An allergy differs from celiac disease, whose sufferers, Levitsky said, can incur far-reaching health effects from eating gluten, including the inability to absorb nutrients.)

"Levitsky said a gluten-free diet might have benefits for those with mild allergies, or even no allergy at all. 'The other part of the story is, if you believe in a cause of your disorder, it becomes the cause,' he said. 'We see this in many different studies. If you believe it, you change your behavior in the direction of being cured.'..."

Wheat-free has been a huge plus for me in terms of physical performance.  There's been no downside whatsoever.  Of course the Professor of Nutrition and Psychology has to blame it on the guy's mind, implying that there's no real cause, but of course we know better.

Thanks to The Healthy Skeptic.