Rafael Nadal has no intention of eliminating gluten from his diet like rival Novak Djokovic, saying the current gluten-free diet craze is nothing more than a passing fad.
"Now it seems like the gluten-free diet is great," Nadal told reporters Aug. 26 (via AFP) at the 2013 U.S. Open in New York. "After three years or four years, we will find another thing that will be great, too. Then the gluten-free diet will not work anymore."
Rafa, 27, echoed sentiments made days earlier by reigning Wimbledon champ Andy Murray, who said trying a gluten-free diet for a few months left him weak and lethargic.
Djokovic, 26, has been playing the best tennis of his life since switching to a gluten-free diet three years ago, climbing to No. 1 in the ATP World Rankings and scoring a sizzling 43-game winning streak. In 2011 (a year after eliminating gluten from his diet), Djokovic defeated Nadal at all six of their encounters, including two Grand-Slam finals.
The Serbian sensation is so enthusiastic about being gluten-free he recently released a book, "Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence," where he details his diet and training secrets.
While Novak, 27, has credited the dietary overhaul for radically improving his tennis game and overall health, Rafa says the key to winning is to be happy, which is hard when you feel deprived.
"I always had the theory that the most important thing is be happy, enjoy what are you doing, and be fresh mentally," said the Spaniard, who's currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
"If you have the gluten-free diet or the 'perfect' diet which are supposed to change you or be a big sacrifice, but it means you are not happy the rest of the day, not fresh mentally because that's a lot of effort for you, better don't do it."
Nadal attributes his success to consistent training and enjoying a balanced life. While the media will continue to exalt one fad diet after another, he's going to keep doing what has worked for him.
"All these kind of things that are news, I am not doing," he said. "I am happy with my normal diet. Everybody's free to do what he wants."
Grand-Slam wins to date:
- Rafael Nadal: 12
- Novak Djokovic: 6 (five were won after going gluten-free)
- Andy Murray: 2