Ever crave a piece of chocolate late at night and worry about going off your diet? Grigor Dimitrov says, “nothing will happen if you have a piece of chocolate”!
Before the Bulgarian plays top seed Daniil Medvedev or Filip Krajinovic in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, ATPTour.com caught up with the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion about cooking, his diet, where he goes for his cheat meals and more.
Let’s say Grigor Dimitrov is cooking tonight, whether for yourself or friends. What would you cook?
I like the vibe of cooking together. We’ve actually been cooking nearly every night with my friends and everyone around. We’ve been doing a lot of barbecues and I’ve actually been trying to stick to doing very nice steaks and enjoying all that part of it.
I just like the vibes of when everybody comes together and we do things together. I am a very big fan of that. We are making different salads and trying to maybe experiment here and there with different things. I eat pasta nearly every day at the tournament, so I think I’ve mastered that part of it. I’m a big fan of gnocchi and found a very nice recipe. Little by little when I get the chance, I like to enjoy that.
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Talking about cooking, how much fun is it to try to improve it?
Baking is a good example. I’ve been trying to improve my baking a little bit and trying to find new things. The only problem with that is I always try to find myself time to do it, because I don’t feel like I have enough time to do it. I think this is where it all comes very hard for me. But I hope when I get more time, this is where I can improvise a bit more and try to perfect it.
I’m pretty good at making chocolate chip cookies to be honest. I’m trying to work on some more things, but I’m not there yet.
Although you’re a professional athlete, I’m sure at the end of the season you can let go diet-wise for at least a short time. What do you think about that?
I think it’s very important to let go, even if you have a couple of days. I think it’s good to have what I like to call a cheat day. I think it’s very good for yourself not to be obsessed and think too much of what you have to eat and when to eat and all that.
I think I usually eat very healthy, but I’m not that big on junk food or anything like that. Yes, I occasionally like to enjoy a nice snack or gummy bears, whatever it is. But for example, I’m in California now and In-N-Out Burger, of course that’s my cheat day, that would absolutely be it for me.
What’s your In-N-Out order?
Two double-doubles, one cheeseburger, big fries on the side, chocolate milkshake.
When you were younger I’m sure it took longer to be disciplined with your diet until you got used to it. For the juniors going through that now or even the fans who are looking for advice on how to deal with overcoming temptation, what would you say?
We’re surrounded by temptation on a daily basis on so many different levels. I’ve always kept things very simple. Back in Bulgaria, I grew up with very simple food. We had a farm where we got all the fresh vegetables and so on. Chicken, fish, whatever, I don’t shy away from food.
I think it’s very important — especially if you’re a professional athlete or you try to get yourself into some sort of a rhythm or a diet — to really try to focus on [what you can eat]. Let’s say you do a blood test and you know what food you’re intolerant [of], what food you digest well and what you don’t.
That gives you a ballpark of what you can eat and how you can do it and then you make yourself a menu throughout the whole week. Then you kind of follow it and alter a few things here and there and then throw things in you’d enjoy so it doesn’t get too rigorous. Simple as that, I would say.
During a tournament I’m sure it’s more strict, but are you able to throw in a cookie or something like that here or there?
Yeah, of course. But not to a point where I’m like I need to have it. Of course you’re so strict with yourself throughout the whole day for four, five weeks in a row, I think at night if you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I’m craving a piece of chocolate’, yeah, have that piece of chocolate. Nothing will happen if you have a piece of chocolate.
It can get very mental and very exhausting to try to battle these things, so why battle it? You’re already doing such an amazing job, give yourself some margin to feel good as well.
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What’s the best meal you’ve had or the best restaurant you’ve gone to?
A bunch of places, I enjoy restaurants a lot. Of course my mom’s cooking is probably the best for me, because every time, even if I’m not hungry, whatever she makes makes me become hungry. That’s the leading [food] for me that has always been like a guideline for me.
Of course everywhere you go, you want to experience different restaurants, so I always try to do it prior to the tournament. I give myself enough time to enjoy it and then get back to my routines.
Is there something you don’t like seeing on the plate and if so, why?
I cannot eat bananas. I just cannot stand bananas. That’s the one fruit I just completely can’t. I’m a very good eater, but this is something that I don’t deal too well with.
A lot of players eat bananas on court, so what do you do to replace that?
Energy gels and energy bars, apples, whatever, something like that. But never a banana.