If you’ve been following the on-court excitement of the first round of the Fed Cup (Feb 8-11), you’ll know GB’s women have smashed their way through to tomorrow’s play off, earning themselves a chance to qualify for World Group II play-offs in April. Amazing!
The Fed Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition in women’s sport – the equivalent of the Davis Cup, a team-based tournament.
This year’s talented Aegon GB Fed Cup team consists of Johanna Konta (British No.1 and World No.10), Heather Watson (British No.2), Laura Robson and doubles player, Joss Rae, overseen by captain and former British No.1 Anne Keothavong.
So how do the team stay fuelled for such formidable action? We caught up with Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, in between play, to talk about the diets that keep them on form.
Johanna Konta, British No.1
‘My diet changes daily – the timing of my matches dictates how much I eat and when. For me, the biggest part is hydration. I need to ensure I get both water and electrolytes so that I’m fully prepared to play a three-hour match if need be.
I work with a nutritionist and have a team around me who help me get the right intake of foods. Do I enjoy cooking? Well I really enjoy eating! Most of my food is cooked for me at the National Tennis Centre but I think, with time, I’ll slowly get better at the cooking too.
Fortunately, I don’t need to be too regimented about my calorie intake but I do need to make good choices. I’m lucky to have grown up in a household where my Dad’s motto was ‘everything in moderation’. And I picked up good habits from my Mum too. I was the kid who went to school with a tin of tuna, rye bread, carrot and celery sticks not a packet of crisps! That’s helped me nowadays.’
Breakfast: ‘I always enjoy starting the day with fruit and waiting a bit before eating breakfast. I’m a massive fan of eggs. I usually have two poached eggs – my new discovery – and avocado with roasted tomatoes and mushrooms. Then I like to finish off with porridge made with almond milk.’
Lunch: ‘It varies but I always look to have a bit of protein, carbohydrates and plenty of veg. I usually have chicken or fish but don’t go to heavy on meat at lunch as I’m usually training after.’
Dinner: ‘This is a similar meal with a good combination of all the things I need to be getting. I love eating an early dinner and digesting well as it really improves my sleep. I try to stick to local food wherever I am as it’s always the best. For instance, in Australia, there’s a great variety of fresh seafood so I overdosed on lots of fish, rice and salad.’
Fuelling up: ‘Post warm-up, I might have a tiny bit of protein shake, just to get something in, and possibly graze on some food if there’s time, plus electrolyte drink and water.’
Recovery: ‘Straight after I come off court, I drink a protein recovery shake with water. I look to drink it within the first 15-20 minutes.’
Supplements: ‘Because my body is under more strain than normal, it’s important to replace nutrients. I take an array of vitamins, omegas, glutamine (an amino acid) and zinc.’
Treats: ‘Everyone knows I love gelato and pizza! I actually see gelato more as a necessity for mental wellbeing and that, in turn, comes through in my physical wellbeing. Pizza is more of a treat.’
Heather Watson, British No.2
‘My main nutrition strategy is to be healthy and have as much energy as possible on the court. That means lots of fruit and vegetables, lots of carbs for energy and, after I finish training, lots of protein.
I feel a massive difference if I don’t eat healthily. If I ate a Chinese takeaway the night before training, I’d feel a lot more tired and have less energy. I never look at calories. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat. Obviously, you don’t want to overeat and be full – the worst thing is training and feeling like you want to throw up or being superbloated! It’s better to eat often and little.
A nutritionist at the LTA called Glen helps me out with my diet but I don’t follow a strict programme. It’s a very simple approach: everything in moderation. When I’m hungry, I eat and when I’m not, I don’t eat – that’s so I don’t get fat! I like to listen to how I feel and my nutritionist has a similar outlook so it works really well. I don’t believe in following diets or cutting things out, I just believe in eating healthily.’
Breakfast: ‘Today I had toasted bread with salmon and poached eggs. I probably should have had some fruit but I was full! If I’m doing a run first thing (out of season), I don’t want to eat as I’ll get a stitch so I have a few sips water and maybe one bite of something.’
Lunch: ‘This is probably my favourite meal of the day. I can’t eat a lot in the morning so I’m always starving! Today it’s chicken with pumpkin risotto.’
Dinner: ‘Tonight, I’m having grilled salmon with garlic spinach. I won’t need much carbohydrate I’ll have had lunch late after training. It all depends how my body feels. I try anything and everything! Today I had some herring at breakfast; I’ve tried alligator and shark, and what I really love is eel and sea urchin. I’m very adventurous!’
Fuelling up: ‘If I have lots of time before a match, I’ll have pasta. If not I’ll have something lighter like rice – all very plain. I drink loads of electrolyte drink to make sure I’m hydrated.’
Refuelling: ‘After a match, I’m never hungry but it’s important to have something to help your muscles repair in those first 20 minutes. What works for me is chocolate milk.’
Supplements: ‘I’m not big on supplements, I prefer a more natural approach.’
Treats: ‘I love my treats! The important thing is not to go over the top as I don’t have a limit! The day before I left (for the Fed Cup), I had a chocolate éclair. The thing I crave most is crisps because they’re salty. But I wouldn’t eat them during a tournament because, mentally, I wouldn’t want to know I’d had them.’
The Aegon GB Fed Cup team play the first round of the Fed Cup in Estonia, February 8-11. For updates, visit www.lta.org.uk/FedCup