By now I am sure you’ve seen Manchester City’s Harlem Shake Video. Ever wonder who the guy is behind the Man City mascot mask? Wonder no more. We caught up with the mystery man – Manchester City First team nutritionist Tom Parry – for an interview in which he gives advice to aspiring nutritionists and shares secrets of some of the top players in the world.
To see him dance without the mask GO HERE then come back for the below interview which starts … now:
What is your official job title at Manchester City?
First team and EDS Sports Scientist/Strength Coach. My specialist area is nutrition. I have an Undergraduate degree (BSc) in sports and exercise science and a Masters (MSc) in sports physiology.
Talk about what your job entails?
Analysis of saliva to monitor the health of players and help dictate specific nutrition. Analysis of heart rate and GPS during training; analysis of key markers in blood, implementing supplementation and diet strategies. Delivery of gym and (onfield) conditioning sessions.
That’s it in black and white but there is a lot of stuff thrown at you that can’t be planned for or predicted. To be honest the biggest part of the job doesn’t come from the knowledge and theory. It is about being creative and getting the player’s to buy into it. There is a lot of compromise and a lot of hard work before you get a squad who understands the importance of good nutrition.
What is your daily schedule before game day?
Day before a game is about preparing the players nutritionally for me. Their conditioning is done earlier in the week and the training intensity is tapered. We have to ensure that the guys fuel up from supplementation and food. We monitor saliva to make sure the players have responded well to training/recovered from a midweek game and this dictates certain nutritional strategies. We also have the players in a hotel the night before so we can control what they have for the last few key meals leading into the game (rather than just one pre-match meal).
What is your daily schedule on game day?
Get to the stadium, mix 9,000 drinks (laughs), get nervous, take the necessary pre-activation/warm up session, prepare all recovery aspects during the game, celebrate/commiserate (smiles).
What would you tell aspiring nutritionists to do or study if they want to be involved on the football side of nutrition?
I think that I have benefitted from a general sports physiology background so I’d say do your early work in generic sports science and then specify. I wouldn’t have got to where I am in football with a nutrition background alone.
What are some of the supplements you make sure each player has?
Omega 3 is very important as modern day diets are loaded with omega 6 (vegetable oil, frozen foods, junk food). Unless you only eat fish, steamed vegetables and olive oil then you’ll need to supplement Omega 3. I really like creatine because it boosts muscle glycogen levels and recovery. But in general we screen the players and analyze their blood and give them supplements to meet their needs.
Do you use hair gel? (It is an inside joke that I ask everyone).
I use a medium to firm putty and a hair dryer.
Hear Parry’s opinion of Balotelli after the jump.
What is your least favorite part of your job?
When new players arrive from foreign countries (I have to figure out) are there eating habits and nutrition habits much different? Often, they are. Mediterranean players eat very late at night 9-10 pm, which is very different, but this is part of their culture and they are adapted to that so we don’t try and change it.
Did Balotelli cooperate with the coaching staff any more off the pitch than on?
He was a good guy to be fair. He listened to Mancini. I honestly think he was just very home sick.
What is your favorite moment at Manchester City so far?
Winning the league.
What is the best type of food to have after training and/or a lift?
I would recommend a protein/high GI carb shake (fast releasing protein and carb to get protein/muscle glycogen synthesis going). Followed by a good balanced plate of food after training ( ¼ protein, ¼ mixed veg, ½ carbohydrate). We suggest a mix of colors form the veg point of view as the colour pigment holds the key behind each foods benefits. Whole grain carbs where possible too as the husk holds all the fiber, which aids digestion.