Interview | Caroline Weir
We hopped on the train to Liverpool, to Coffee & Fandisha, to chat with Scotland international and new Man City signing Caroline Weir. Caroline, who was named the Scottish Player of the Year in 2016, came through the ranks at Arsenal, Bristol and Liverpool, so we grabbed our chance to quiz her on how she fuels her performances as an elite athlete...
So Caroline, on the morning of a game, what sorts of foods are you going for & when? Is it a case of smashing through a bowl of pasta at 11am, or...? "It depends, I'll usually wake up quite early so that I can get two meals in [ahead of kick off], so maybe about half 8 or 9 o'clock I'll have a bowl of porridge, a bit of fruit, maybe a yoghurt plus a little bit of cereal. Then three hours before kick off, I'll have a bigger meal. At the moment I've been going for beans on toast, sometimes I'll have pasta.. it depends how I'm feeling but it'll always be a bowl of carbs and vegetables, never anything too exciting."
You mentioned earlier (off camera) that you'll have something to eat when you arrive at the stadium? "Yeah, so when I get to the stadiums and before the warm-ups I'll take a shot of caffeine, then, as we come to the warms up I'll have half a banana and an energy gel. At half time I'll have a the other half of the banana and another gel, so by the end of the game I'm usually buzzing about as its all gone to my head! I really notice when I don't have these things [during the game], I don't have nearly as much energy. Really, it's all about fueling on the day and the day before, so I'll have a lot of carbs and protein."
So is there anything you actively avoid at the moment? "Actually, in the last month I've become vegetarian. I know that a lot of people disagree with it because I'm an athlete, but after speaking with a lot of other athletes I've decided to try and cut down on the amount of meat I eat. I have noticed a difference since cutting it out. People ask 'where do you get your protein from' but there are so many other ways to get it now.
I've got a very sweet tooth, pastries are my thing; I try to avoid those except for after a game. Other than that I eat pretty healthy."
A number of athletes we've spoke to are vegetarian or vegan.., "yeah I'll see how it goes, but I don't miss it at all. I've had it a few times [in the past month] but I don't cook it for myself any more. I'm just eating a lot more vegetables, lentils and chickpeas."
So what sort of meals are you relying on the most at home? "Right now I just get loads of different vegetables and throw them into the pan, lentils, chickpeas, rice, kind of like a stir fry but without chicken or meat. Then I'll put it all in a wrap... not the most exciting meal though!.
After a game: pizza or ice cream. I'm a big ice cream fan. After a game, we're told you can eat what you want because you've burned off so much energy, so really pizza isn't such a bad thing."
So even though you're still only in your early twenties, you've been a pro footballer for quite a while. Have you noticed much of a change in your diet in the past few years? "Oh yeah, I'm much more aware of what to eat and when to eat it. Coming through the youth levels, we were quite well educated on nutrition - it's always been quite a big thing. When you're younger you don't think it'll affect you too much, but as you grow you begin to realise just how much it impacts your performance. I am much more conscious of what I eat now than when I was younger.
You can train as much as you want but eating well is just as important."
During the off season, can you go wild and eat whatever you like? "Well... no, not really. We don't really get loads of time off, so you can't go too crazy. We get about 4 weeks off, for two weeks you can take that completely off, but for two weeks you'll be expected to do some [fitness or workout].
I'm not gonna lie, I will enjoy myself a bit, but it's always at the back of your mind that you can't go too crazy!"
You're only 22, is it tricky going out with all your friends of a similar age as, presumably, you won't be able to drink as much? "I think... because I'm usually surrounded by other athletes, you learn when you can let your hair down a bit, but during the season your focus is on the games, and that's your number one priority."
Is there a big difference in approach to your pre-game prep and nutrition between club and international games? "Internationals are quite different because you're in a hotel or camp for up to ten days, and what you can eat is in front of you every meal time, you can't go out and buy snacks or anything. Outside of camp you just have to be disciplined and make the right choices".
So stepping away from nutrition, do you have any pre-game rituals? "Not really, aside from making sure I have half a banana and making sure my make-up is done... but nothing weird! I'd never forget my make-up... after the game we do quite a lot with the fans, plus a bit of media."