The following is a brief description of the most important facts regarding nutrition for dancers. A more detailed, comprehensive discussion can be found in the book Nutrition for Dancers – Basics, Performance Enhancement, Practical Tips.
- Dancers are top-performance athletes on stage.
- A balanced diet is essential to maintaining a dancer’s high level of performance and health. At some point, every dancer faces the questions of what, when, and how to eat in order to stay fit and healthy: Which foods have a lot of nutrients, are filling and satisfying, but also allow dancers to maintain the well-proportioned, slim figure that is generally expected of them? When is the best time to eat: before, during, or after training? How can dancers ensure that they always have access to high-quality foods that are prepared gently?
- As a result of their training, dancers require more of the following:
- Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fluids.
- Dancers need approximately one extra portion of food a day!
- Due to a dancer’s often irregular and tightly packed schedule, it is particularly important to focus on eating a sufficient amount and consuming foods that are of high quality in order to ensure the intake of the necessary amount of nutrients.
- Main meals and snacks
- A healthy day for a dancer should begin with a breakfast rich in carbohydrates that provides enough energy for training. The day should then continue with two main meals and healthy snacks in between. These should also be rich in carbohydrates at times when energy will be needed for dancing and rich in protein towards the end of training in order to encourage regeneration.
- When to eat and in what size portions
- The times that meals take place throughout the day and the size of these meals depend on a dancer’s individual training situation as well as personal preferences. However, it is important not to leave out any meals or macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, or fats).
- Dancers must find a balance between an increased intake of food, the amount of energy spent training, and the common need to maintain a slim figure.
- This difficult balancing act often results in phases of imbalanced nutrition amongst dancers, which can lead to weight changes. Diets and eating disorders are also not uncommon. This is an area that requires special attention because decreased dietary intake, along with the resulting nutritional deficiencies and/or low levels of body fat, can quickly lead to injuries of the bones (stress fractures), tendons, ligaments, and muscles, or to irregular menstruation.
- Intense dancing can lead to unhealthy eating habits
- It is therefore essential that dancers focus at an early stage on achieving a balanced, regular, and enjoyable diet!
The Book: Nutrition for Dancers – Basics, Performance Enhancement, Practical Tips