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You Are What You Eat


Much is made of the health and fitness benefits of dance and hand in hand with this goes diet; healthy eating is vital for dancers who want to perform well and all dancers need a combination of healthy, wholesome food which also maximises energy.

So what should a dancer be eating?
Carbohydrates for energy
Carbohydrates (starches) should compose about 50 - 60% of a dancer's diet. Think cereal, pasta, bagels, breads and baked potatoes.
Protein for strength
Protein is important for building and repairing muscles. Protein should comprise about 15% of a dancer's diet and good sources include lean meats, poultry, beans and soya.
Fat is not the enemy
Many dancers worry about gaining weight, and therefore, strictly limit their fat intake. However, a diet too low in fat can impair performance and may cause serious health consequences for the dancer. A dancer's diet should be composed of about 20 - 30% fat. Aim to eat foods low in saturated fats, such as avocados, nuts and seafood.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and will determine your energy level for the rest of the day (hence we include a hearty breakfast on all of our dance holidays). A good sized breakfast high in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat will keep you feeling fuller longer and with plenty of energy. An example breakfast would be scrambled or poached eggs, wholemeal toast, low-fat yogurt and fruit.
For a dancer, lunch can be a difficult meal to plan. You will want this meal to be satisfying, yet not too filling to avoid after-lunch fatigue and/or stomach distress. Choose foods that are easy to digest, but high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein. For example, a chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread and some fruit, or pasta with vegetables followed by yoghurt. Don't forget to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. According to the joint position statement developed by the American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada, proper hydration significantly affects performance.
Dinner is a meal important for dancers in that it prepares their bodies for the next day's work. If you have a busy day of classes or performances ahead, what you eat the night before will supply your muscles with the energy they need. Again, choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, which provide energy; lean protein, which helps repair damaged muscle tissue; and healthy fats, which help your body function at an optimal level. Good dinner options are pasta with meat sauce, wholemeal bread, green veggies and eggs.
Snacks throughout the day are also an important part of a dancer's diet; small meals throughout the day will ensure your body is properly fuelled. Fruit, crackers, low-fat yoghurts and nuts are all good options to help maintain energy levels.
Of course, there is always time for indulgence. On a dance holiday you will inevitably want to sample the local cuisine and enjoy a few alcoholic drinks! But a healthy diet throughout the day and a little bit of everything in moderation should keep you fighting fit and ensure you're the last one to leave the dance floor.