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DANCER’S DIET: NUTRITION FOR A HEALTHY DANCER

Every dancer knows the importance of staying strong and energised, especially during rigorous training, whether it’s endless rehearsals or a full-on day of workshops at a dance camp… As an avid dancer myself, I understand effects of wrong food choices on the body and mind’s performance (been there, done it!). Today I’ve teamed up with Ben Bate, a fitness instructor to give you some useful tips on nutrition for a healthy dancer.

I don’t want to bore you with ‘just another’ healthy eating article. So let’s keep it short and simple! For you to be able to survive hours and hours of dance training, you need to eat (yes, EAT!) to keep your ENERGY, FOCUS and STRENGTH levels high.

Nutrition for a healthy dancer:

…FUEL. HYDRATE. RECOVER. AND REPEAT…

Make sure your everyday nutrition is balanced, rich in all three major macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fats. Ben says that a healthy dancer’s diet meal plan for training and exercise should contain plenty of starch rich foods, lots of fruit, vegetables, some dairy and also plenty of water.

ENERGY

CARBS are the main source of energy, and the most important form of fuel for any sports and activities.

Ben says, that if you’re training on average of 3-5 hours a week, you should consume roughly 4-5 grams of carbs per kg of body weight per day. Great news! It’s approx. 200-300 grams (for 50-60kg body weight) of your favourite home-made bolognese! Daily! If your weekly training is 5-7 hours, then your body needs more energy, about 5-6 grams per kg of body weight per day. That is approx. 250-360 grams (for 50-60kg) of baked potatoes, rice,  whole wheat bread and much more!

PROTEIN is another great energy source. “Its main role is for growth, repair, maintenance of body cells and tissue,” Ben says. With moderate physical activity you should consume 0.75 grams per kg of body weight, which is about 35-45g (for 50-60kg) of salmon or eggs. For a strength endurance programme, make sure your body gets 1.2- 1.7 grams per kg of body weight, or 60-100g (for 50-60kg) of lean chicken breast or a steak.

VEGGIES and FRUIT, especially when they are raw, are brimming with active micro elements. It’s like burning energy, as most of the foods lose a lot of their nutritional value when they are cooked. Get the full benefit of plant-based foods, eat them raw! Bonus point, you will need less food to feel satisfied, because raw food has perfect balance of water, nutrient, and fibre.

FOCUS

Have you ever noticed that sometimes coffee doesn’t do the magic it’s supposed to? The reason can be that your body is simply too used to it.
Although completely replacing caffeine for some people (like me!) can be very painful (withdrawal effects like headache, fatigue, irritability, etc), you can start with a little step at a time. Try switching your ‘morning joe’ with a glass of lemon water. Lemon is an antioxidant and a great source of vitamin C, which doesn’t keep you awake, but it prevents fatigue and makes you more alert. It will help you learn dance choreography faster and more efficiently.

STRENGHT

PROTEIN, protein! And again, protein! It is an essential element in nutrition for a healthy dancer meal plan. It’s responsible for repairing muscles, building tissue and cells and much more. It gives you the POWER to really HIT THAT BEAT. Like I mentioned earlier, take advantage of increased protein consumption in order to benefit from its muscle-building ability.

Nutrition for a healthy dancer Blog. Birmingham street dance photoshoot, dance photographer Birmingham
Dancers: (left) Sophie Woodall, (right) Megan Ingram

SNACKING

Endless rehearsals or back-to-back classes don’t give you much opportunity to eat. When it’s maximum a 5-min break, there’s simply not enough time to eat. However, it doesn’t mean you don’t bring  a snack. ALWAYS bring a few snacks with you! Always!

What’t the best snack? Nuts, fruit or dried fruit. And here’s why…

  • NUTS are a great on-the-go source of energy. They are packed with so many nutrients! But they can also be quite heavy, so don’t try to eat the whole pack in one go. A bit less than a handful will be just perfect.
  • FRUITs are full of vitamins and natural sugars, and as I mentioned earlier, they give you this burning energy you can use HERE and NOW.
  • DRIED FRUITS with NUTS would be a perfect snack! It’s only a tiny bag, but you can get so much out of it! Dried fruits tend to have some sugar added, but it’s good! ‘cause you will need these quick bursts of sugar to get the energy to keep you going.

Ben also recommends having a bigger lunch that would last. Have couple of mouthfuls every time you have a break.

And DON’T FORGET TO DRINK! Plenty!

This is all for this week’s post. I hope it was helpful! If you have any questions regarding nutrition for a healthy dancer, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

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Personal trainer Ben Bate

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