Are you feeling less energetic in the studio lately? Are you having a hard time staying well during competition season? Do you seem to be suffering injury after injury? Your diet could be the culprit. If you're not fueling your body with the proper foods, your dancing as well as your health may begin to suffer.
Every dancer should follow a healthy diet. The body performs at its best when filled with the the proper foods. Dancing requires lots of energy, so dancers must consume enough calories to keep up with physical demands. A dancer's diet should consist of a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, and adequate fluids.
Carbohydrates (starches) should compose about 50-65% of a dancer's diet. Carbs are found in foods such as cereal, pasta, bagels, breads and baked potatoes.
Proteins are important for building and repairing muscles. Proteins should comprise about 12-15% of a dancer's diet. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, beans, legumes and tofu.
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 avocadoes, nuts and seafood.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Vitamins and minerals play important roles in the body, such as energy production and cell formation. To obtain all important vitamins and minerals, dancers should eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day and choose whole grain breads and cereals. A multivitamin is suggested for those who do not consume an adequate variety of nutritious foods.
Water is required to regulate body temperature, maintain circulation, maintain salt and electrolyte balance, and remove wastes. Fluids are lost through sweat created by the body's unique cooling system. Because it is possible to lose large amounts of water before becoming thirsty, dancers should remember to drink small amounts of fluids before, during and after workouts.
Source: Nutrition Fact Sheet: Fueling the Dancer. International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS), 2003.