Dance Nutrition

This is quite a big topic and is a topic you should do further research on to find what best suits you and your needs. We will still discuss the basic nutrition facts and must-haves for dancers.   

If you’ve ever uttered the phrases “I want to stay healthy, and I want to be in shape for dance”, or “I have so many cravings and no willpower around food!” “ How do I eat a healthy and balanced diet?” you’re not alone, we have these thoughts from time to time, and remember it comes with doing research and trial and error.  

When it comes to dance nutrition, many dancers don’t realize how important it is to fuel their bodies with the right foods and nutrients. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables, grains and healthy fats will help dancers stay energized for long rehearsals and performances. But there are also specific nutritional needs for different types of dancing: ballet, hip-hop, jazz or tap. Knowing what your body needs can make all the difference in your performance – both on stage and off! In this blog post we’ll discuss some key tips for keeping up a good dance nutrition plan so you can be at your best every day.  

 

First and foremost, stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help keep you from becoming dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue and even muscle cramps. You should aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. If you’re dancing for a long period of time, you may need to drink even more. 

 

Second, eat healthy foods before and after your practice sessions or performances. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains will provide you with the energy you need to get through a rigorous dance practice. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks before you dance, as they can lead to a crash in energy levels once the sugar wears off. Eating a meal or snack with healthy carbohydrates before you dance can help provide sustained energy throughout your performance or practice session.  

 

Finally, pay special attention to your nutritional needs after a long rehearsal or performance. It’s important to replenish the energy you have lost so that your body can recover and perform at its peak again. Eating a meal or snack that includes both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your performance is key to recovery. Don’t forget to rehydrate as well! 

 

What nutrients do dancers need? 

Question 1: What types of food should dancers eat? 

To discuss the types of foods recommended in a dancer’s diet, it’s important to address a dancer’s calorie needs. Calories provide the energy needed to not only perform but also to sustain basic metabolic functioning. Though calories are often feared in our diet-obsessed culture, calories are essential to a dancer’s active lifestyle. Eating too few calories risks injury and nutrient deficiencies.  

Carbohydrates: 

A dancer’s best friend for his/her energy needs! Should take up 55-60% of your diet as they are a main source of energy for any athlete. A lack of carbs in your diet promotes fatigue in your muscles.  

  •        Whole Wheat or Whole Grain Avocado toast 
  •        Beans
  •        Whole-grain pasta 
  •        Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes

Protein (goal: 12-15% of a dancer’s diet)  

Protein options: Important for building muscles  

  •        Chicken (grilled)
  •        Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Cod, etc
  •        Turkey
  •        Eggs 
  •        Yogurt 
  •        Quinoa or Rice

Fats: (goal: 30% of a dancer’s diet) 

Provides structure to our cell membranes, creates an insulating layer around nerves and some even form the base for our hormones. 

Fats are an essential nutrient for a dancer’s active body. Our society’s overwhelming fear of fat however often overshadows the vast health benefits surrounding this macronutrient. Adding fat to a meal promotes satisfaction, which keeps us full throughout the day and some can offer anti-inflammatory benefits that reduce inflammation and promote muscular repair. 

  •        Oils
  •        Avocado 

 

 

On-the-Go Snacks: 

  •        Hummus and Pita Chips/Pita Bread
  •        Green Grapes 
  •        Trail Mix (not just the M&Ms)
  •        Apples
  •        Bananas and/or Banana Chips 
  •        Strawberries 

 

 

The micronutrients: 

These are also essential and include vitamins and minerals like calcium, Vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc.  

Question 2: How much water should a dancer drink during the day? 

Our body is made of 60% water and therefore, it’s critical to replenish and hydrate! I encourage dancers to aim for at least 3 liters of water daily. Daily needs may be higher if dancing for longer than 60 minutes and/or in hot and humid environments.  

Added note- our thirst mechanism doesn’t activate until the body is already approaching dehydration. Instead of relying on thirst to dictate your water intake, plan ahead and remain diligent. Drink water at water breaks even if you think you don’t need it.  

By following these tips for good dance nutrition, you can ensure that your body is getting the energy and nutrients it needs to keep you performing your best. Fueling yourself with healthy foods before, during, and after practice sessions and performances can make a world of difference in your dance performance. So don’t forget to take care of yourself and fuel up!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:  

Dance Spirit: https://www.dancespirit.com/how-much-protein-do-dancers-need-2606279674.html 

 

VeryWell Fit: https://www.verywellfit.com/the-importance-of-nutrition-for-dancers-617328 

 

To the Pointe Nutrition: https://pointenutrition.com/the-importance-of-nutrition-for-dancers/ 

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