Tom Parry – Nutrition in Premier League Football – Injury Rehab Network Event

Tom Parry featured image

Sterosport and BASRaT were pleased to bring the May event of the Injury Rehab Network to sports rehabilitation professionals. The online event on the evening of 19th May featured a presentation from expert guest speaker Tom Parry from Manchester City FC.

Over 160 people joined the session online including practitioners from across the UK and around the world.



Tom Parry – Head of Performance Nutrition, Manchester City FC

Tom completed his Master’s Degree in sports physiology (with distinction) at John Moores University and went on to work in the research labs, looking at the effects of different nutritional supplements on football performance. In 2008 a position as sports science intern at Manchester City FC (MCFC) came up, which was converted to first-team sports scientist after 6 months.

Tom worked across many areas of sports science, from monitoring training demands (HR/GPS) and physiological stress (blood and saliva analysis) to strength and conditioning (gym and pitch), whilst all along managing the nutrition with the help of top consultants (including Matt Lovell and Nick Broad).

After completing his IOC diploma in sports nutrition Tom officially became Head of Nutrition with Manchester City’s first team and after a year in the position was also put in charge of first-team catering. Highlights from Tom’s 13-year career to date at MCFC include the development of a nutrition education app and the introduction of a chef specific nutrition course (with the help of Gatorade Sport Science Institute nutrition team) with lectures and practical sessions.

Nutrition in Premier League Football

Tom’s presentation Nutrition in Premier League football, discussed the evolution of nutrition in modern football.  From consultant to constant. The presentation was packed with information about Tom’s work at Manchester City FC (MCFC) and included lots of examples of the nutrition provided to the men’s first team players.

Tom started his presentation with an overview of performance nutrition including the use of diagnostics, fueling and recovery between matches and chef education.

Chef preparing food

Nutrition at Manchester City FC

Tom described how meals are compulsory for players at all training sessions and matches. A team of six chefs prepare meals and taste and presentation is key.  Most players have personal chefs who cook for the players and their families. Tom works with the personal chefs to help them to provide the correct nutrition for the players.

A chef swap project is in place and provides a two-way process for the Man City nutrition team to learn from the personal chefs of the players and for the personal chefs to take away ideas for performance nutrition and how this can be incorporated into healthy and nutritious meals for the players and their families.


Tom described the range of diagnostic tools used to assess players health in relation to nutrition with questionnaires used to assess injury history, health status, and diet. In addition, it is important for Tom and his team to have good working relationships with players to observe and influence their nutrition.

Tom explained how regular blood testing and analysis provides essential data to help inform the personal dietary requirements for each player. Tom analyses levels of iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, the Omega 6:3 ratio and levels of magnesium. Tom discussed the importance of each of these essential vitamins and minerals for health and sports performance:

  • Ferritin – Reflects the amount of iron stored in the body.
  • B12 – Plays a key role in brain and nervous system function and the production of blood.
  • Folate – Is a B vitamin essential for DNA repair and red blood cell formation.
  • Vitamin D – Keeps bones strong and supports normal immune function.
  • Omega 6:3 – Reflects the amount of Omega 6 in relation to Omega 3. A low number is better.
  • Magnesium – The amount of magnesium in your cells. Important for muscle function and optimal enzyme production.

Dexa Scans and Skinfolds

Scans and tests are used to measure and monitor players weight and body fat %. This then informs decisions around players nutrition to ensure players are in peak condition.  Daily weights are taken each day to keep the player’s focused and not allow players to slip up across the weeks in between tests.

Footballer sweating

Sweat analysis

Sweat analysis is completed to assess whether players are salty sweaters and to ensure the correct amount of electrolytes in sports drinks for good hydration.

Healthy meals and snacks for performance nutrition and recovery

Tom discussed how blood analysis together with data from questionnaires and body composition analysis informs personalised goals for each players nutrition. For example, players may aim to increase the intake of green leafy vegetables, snack on nuts and seeds, and take a magnesium shot to increase magnesium intake.

Education of players and chefs is vital to ensuring that Tom and his team have a positive influence on nutrition. Tasty meals and snacks are created with simple ways to maximise nutrition. For example, iron absorption can be increased by using a citrus marinade (high in vitamin C) when preparing meat and by using an iron pan for cooking. Foods high in magnesium include nuts and seeds, and leafy veg.  Foods rich in omega 3 are salmon, oily fish, and eggs, but also involves controlling omega 6 intake by avoiding cooking and dressing with sunflower oil.


Micronutrient supplementation is logged to enable tracking of supplements (type and brand) used and adherence to individual supplement program.  Tracking the adherence allows them to truly monitor the effectiveness of the program.  It’s also a great tool to motivate players to keep doing the right thing.

Banana pancakes

Carbohydrate cycling

Tom described how carbohydrate cycling is used to control body fat and ensure that carbohydrate intake matches energy expenditure of training. Carb loading is done the day before a match and on match day followed by recovery on days following match days. Carbohydrates are reduced on days off.

Tom provided some examples of high carb and low carb meals as follows:

  • High carb breakfast – Oat, protein powder and banana pancakes. High carb shakshuka. Overnight oats. Bruschetta. Oat and date energy balls.
  • Low carb breakfast – Courgette frittata. Mushroom and spinach baked eggs. Crushed avocado. Smoked fish platters. Chia pudding.
  • High carb cold counter – Sushi. Panzanella salad. Roasted root veg. Summer rolls with noodles.
  • Low carb cold counter – Kale and spinach. Caesar salad. Tuna tartar. Tomato salad.

Refuelling and recovery – supplementation strategy

Tom explained the refueling and supplementation strategy for players following a match. Phase one is at final whistle with a 2:1 carb:protein shake + creatine, and phase two is a tart cherry shot (4g tart cherry powder) and 1,000mg curcumin. Next is the food… Grab and go, high carb, low-fiber, lean protein.  Chicken goujons, sushi, pizza/panini, arancini, Lean beef sliders.

The performance nutrition team at MCFC

Tom described the structure of the team of staff in the nutrition team, chefs and front of house who are responsible to providing meals, snacks and supplements to players and staff. On matchday four chefs will prepare food prior to the game and the nutritionist will ensure supplements and hydration are available to players.

A chef education programme is in place to ensure the team have the knowledge and skills in relation to performance nutrition including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and novel ingredients.

Tom and the team invite local independent restaurants to come in and create healthy themed meals as part of restaurant takeovers.


The presentation stimulated several questions from the attendees, which Tom kindly answered as follows:

Q1. How do you manage the specific dietary requirements of players?
A1. For players with specific dietary requirements, meals are prepared fresh, taking into account their needs. Checks are made with suppliers to ensure that all products and supplements are suitable for all players.

Q2. How is REDS managed in professional football?
A2. Dexa analysis can assess tissue loss and energy deficit. Carb phobia can be an issue in the women’s team, where this is addressed through constant contact with players.

Q3. How can the menstrual cycle be incorporated into performance nutrition?
A3. The women’s team have specialists, and there is a lot of research going on into the menstrual cycle and sports performance.

Q4. Which brands would you recommend for supplements?
A4. Kinetica for protein powder. SiS for energy gels. Healthspan Elite for micronutrients. Smartfish fish oil/ omega 3 drinks.

Q5. How do you manage European matches and the logistics for away games?
A5. European fixtures require the team to plan ahead with a lot of packing. Items are packed in skips for each setting where the food will be required. Good communication is required with hotels to ensure the facilities, equipment and ingredients required are available.

Q6. How do you manage possible eating disorders?
A6. Messaging about healthy eating is provided to players slowly in a non-critical way.

Q7. What are your thoughts on collagen supplements?
A7. The evidence around the benefits of collagen for sports performance is emerging. Collagen is available to players in a variety of formats, including gels, shots, and gummies and included in food such as sausages.

Q8. Does poor diet = poor performance?
A8. A good diet improves recovery. At MCFC, all the players are very professional, and there is a good culture where everyone is committed to nutrition and performance.

Q9. Do players use personal apps and wearables to track their health and nutrition?
A9. Most players wear smart watches and track their health data. In addition, some players track their nutrition using apps, and some wear wearables for health tracking too. It’s a personal choice, and the data can be useful to support our work in performance nutrition.

The next event in the Injury Rehab Network

For details of the next Injury Rehab Network events with BASRaT please see our Injury Rehab Network event listings or view the blog for details of the events in 2022. 

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