How to eat like a dancer
Ballerina Diet - Professional Ballerinas Diet and Exercise Plan
Curious how ballerinas maintain their famously svelte figures? We asked three to share their grueling daily dance routines, as well as what they eat to keep their energy up (without bulking up) throughout each long day. These athletes work hard and eat super healthy (no surprise there). See what a day in the life of a pro ballerina is like... Keenan McLaren, 28, company dancer with Nashville Ballet 7:30 A.M. I always start the day with a large glass of water and my vitamins (including fish oil, turmeric, and vitamin D). Breakfast is a bowl of Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and topped with organic berries and homemade granola. I also love starting the day with a warm beverage—usually an almond milk matcha tea latte or a cappuccino. 8:15 A.M. I arrive at the studio about an hour before company class begins to roll out my back and legs, stretch, do some light Pilates, and Theraband my feet. Just spending some quiet time in the morning helps prepare me optimally for a good day of rehearsal. 9:15 to 10:45 A.M. Our hour-and-a-half company class warms our bodies up for the day, but it also gives me a chance to technically
By Katy Lindenmuth
Curious how ballerinas maintain their famously svelte figures? We asked three to share their grueling daily dance routines, as well as what they eat to keep their energy up (without bulking up) throughout each long day. These athletes work hard and eat super healthy (no surprise there). See what a day in the life of a pro ballerina is like...
Keenan McLaren, 28, company dancer with Nashville Ballet
I always start the day with a large glass of water and my vitamins (including fish oil, turmeric, and vitamin D). Breakfast is a bowl of Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and topped with organic berries and homemade granola. I also love starting the day with a warm beverage—usually an almond milk matcha tea latte or a cappuccino.
I arrive at the studio about an hour before company class begins to roll out my back and legs, stretch, do some light Pilates, and Theraband my feet. Just spending some quiet time in the morning helps prepare me optimally for a good day of rehearsal.
9:15 to 10:45 A.M.
Our hour-and-a-half company class warms our bodies up for the day, but it also gives me a chance to technically keep improving outside of choreography.
After class, I always eat a kiwi (for potassium and vitamin C), and if I have a long morning ahead of me, I'll also nosh on some trail mix or a Kind bar. Company class is followed by three hours of rehearsal to prepare for the upcoming show.
Lunch! Typically, it's a prepared-ahead quinoa, veggie, and tofu stir-fry or a mozzarella and tomato salad dressed with this killer Super Greens and pistachio pesto recipe. I've been a vegetarian for about five years and eat super clean—no processed sugars or flours.
Three more hours of rehearsal—this is why I keep lunch so light.
My dancing day is done, and I am always in need of a snack. During the week, I am often either teaching yoga or going to school at night, so I'll pack raw nuts to munch on or—if I'm organized enough—a delicious raw vegan power snack of some sort. On a night that I am free, I love to swim laps and hit the steam room afterward. Swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise that is easy on the joints and very meditative for me.
Dinner during the week is usually simple: a salad loaded with veggies and two fried eggs over easy, accompanied by either hearty whole-grain bread and cheese or Nut Thins and hummus. Then I'll unwind by watching TV, rolling out on my foam roller, and stretching so I don't tighten up while I sleep.
I know people always tell you not to eat late, but if I don't eat before bed I will wake up at 2 A. M. hungry! It's all about making the right choice. So every night before I go to bed I mix up kefir (which is like liquid yogurt and really good for your belly) with cinnamon and stevia. It's delicious and helps me fall right to sleep.
Lauren Fadeley, 29, principal dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet
I wake up and have water and coffee, but I actually don't eat breakfast! Because I'm being active so early, I can't have anything in my stomach. (On performance days, I will have some nuts or a Larabar.)
I'll head in and do a slow warm-up before class. I always do sit-ups and pushups, plus stretches to warm up my hips and my calves.
9:30 to 11 A.M.
Class! We don't get our schedule until two days beforehand and it changes daily, so it's hard to have a regimented routine. It's exciting in a way because your day is never the same!
I usually have a bag full of veggies—carrots and peppers and cucumbers—on hand to snack on before the next block of class or rehearsal, which lasts a few hours.
Lunchtime! I follow a modified paleo diet—when we're in season, I find it's the best thing for my body, strength, and stamina. The gluten- and dairy-free aspects are the most beneficial for me, although I do have cheese on occasion.
3 to 6 P.M.
More rehearsals. During the week, I usually don't get in as much cross-training as I'd like. My favorite Vinyasa yoga class is in the middle of the day; if my schedule permits, I try to go. And on weekends, I'll play catch-up with FlyWheel classes for cardio and a special strength-training program called MaxOut.
Once I'm home, it's time for dinner. My husband is a cook (and fellow dancer at the company), so he usually does his thing during the week. We always have some kind of protein and a vegetable—last night, we had a big salad with salmon on it and plantain chips. I love doing modified versions of non-paleo foods, like spaghetti squash. I've even made paleo calzones!
I ice my ankles every night, no matter what, and sometimes I'll walk around in YogaToes. I also just try to relax.
Lesley Rausch, 32, principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet
In the morning, I'll have a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon to take with supplements, plus a cup of green tea. (Sometimes I'll have an almond-milk latte in my new espresso machine.) And I make a smoothie with greens, strawberries, blueberries, a half banana, a scoop of protein powder, 1 teaspoon of macha powder, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts. I drink half in morning and half after class.
I'll do an hour of PT exercises to warm up for class—mostly with a strength-training, alignment, and biomechanics focus.
10:15 a.m. to 11:45 A.M.
Company class…and I get to finish my smoothie!
Noon to 3 P.M.
Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal. And usually a snack—parts of a Kind bar (like the dark-chocolate cinnamon pecan) or trail mix. I always carry food with me.
Lunch is almost always a lean protein, like tuna or chicken, string cheese, and something like vegetables left over from dinner. We have to keep it light because we usually go right back to rehearsal.
4 to 7 P.M.
If we're not rehearsing, I'll do Pilates at PNBConditioning or take a yoga class at Haute Yoga Queen Anne.
Dinner is a sizable serving of fish, chicken, beef, or pork plus a similar-size serving of a green vegetable and a sweet potato or quinoa. Or I'll have a big salad with some sort of protein on it.
For a sweet treat before bed, I'll whip up a smoothie in my NutriBullet: a frozen banana, cacao, peanut butter, almond milk, cinnamon and a half scoop of protein powder.
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10 ways to eat like a ballet dancer
by The Classical Girl
Revised for 2019
Over at Q&A, someone asked about what ballet dancers eat. It’s a common enough question; people are thinking if they could get a hold of that diet, that mentality, well, they’d be set for life. Or they have this image of anorexia and lifelong self-denial. I told the reader to dispel the notion of carrot sticks and granola, black coffee, Diet Coke, that might be going through their heads. When I was young, during the late Balanchine era, that was the image circling around about ballet dancers. Happily, there is more of a focus on nutrition and healthy living these days. Maybe some dancers will eat those aforementioned items as a personal choice. But the main point is this: professional ballet dancers are athletes at the top of their game. They work hard, they require high octane fuel. Granted, their bodies also function best when not laden with excess poundage, so they can’t over-fuel. It’s an eat-to-live philosophy versus a live-to-eat one. You eat what you need. In truth, this is the world’s greatest dieting secret/tip. You know those commercials they run on websites, this “try this one crazy secret for weight loss that have doctors baffled!”? Can’t stand those stupid things, never mind that I always want to click on the link to see “the secret.” Here’s the secret. Eat what you need, not what you want. And if you want more, well, friggin’ go burn it off and then you can have more.
First, a point that can’t be overlooked: body type. Professional ballet dancers are indeed slender, usually long-legged, short waisted, perfect for the work they do, much like runners. I will hazard a guess that one’s body type is what helped each one get this far in their chosen vocation. Look at those Olympic runners. You don’t see short, stocky ones. It’s not discrimination, it’s the right body type gravitating to the right sport. You don’t see short, stocky professional ballet dancers for the same reason. The reality of their body means they probably diverted to gymnastics, acrobatics (Cirque du Soleil – my fave!), where they excelled in a way they couldn’t have in ballet.
But back to the main point. Food. Which dancers need plenty of, just like any top-level athlete. They are not fashion models who can subsist on 500 calories a day. They have to fuel the engine that drives them through rehearsals all day long and performing in the evening. So. Quality food, as much as is needed (note: needed and not craved). No wasted calories. Protein is crucial. (Eggs! Nuts! Chicken!) Fruit and veggies for grazing. Bananas are a great choice, as they also provide the potassium that keeps muscles from cramping. Peanut butter on banana, yogurt and a fistful of nuts before the evening’s performance? Perfect. Carbs, sure, but the purer and coarser the grain, the better for the body. Here, however, what I seem to find from reading interviews about what certain dancers eat, is that dancers aren’t nutrition purists. Some of them, in fact, like their junky food. A daily croissant sandwich (granted, with egg)? Face it, croissants aren’t power food. With their refined white flour and high fat, they’re crap. (And oh, I love them as a special treat.) Ice cream? It’s on more than one dancer’s list. Likewise, burger and fries. But hey, why not, from time to time? Dancers have a high metabolism because they’re working, working, working those bodies. And if it’s a quality lean hamburger (grass-fed beef!) with cheese and avocado and sautéed mushrooms, not a bad choice at all.
Another facet of ballet dancers’ eating regimes that helps to keep their weight down: they graze. They do not sit down to three meals a day. Lunch is often a quick 3pm affair, food that can be consumed between rehearsals, nothing too heavy, yet nothing too insubstantial. Think the ubiquitous banana, half a turkey and avocado sandwich, or a deli Mediterranean salad with feta and olives and pine nuts tossed on top. That kind of thing. Pre-performance, there needs to be a meal-but-not to get them through the evening’s performance, but certainly not a full dinner. That will come at 11pm. Late, sure. But do they have a choice, when the stage calls? Besides, it’s their one chance to eat like a real person, sitting down, a plate of pasta or a slab of grilled salmon. A well-deserved glass of wine.
All right, here are Classical Girl’s suggestions on 10 ways to eat like a ballet dancer, or an athlete, or simply like a smart person on a healthy (but tasty!) diet.
- Make every calorie count. Eat tasty things that also happen to have good nutrition, like coarse breads or nutty breads, salads with chunks of fresh veggies.
- Exercise. Lots. It makes meals taste so much better.
- Enjoy everything you eat. If it’s caloric and you love it, enjoy! If it’s caloric and you’re not enjoying it, dump it in the trash.
- Graze on nuts between meals, especially ones you have to shell, like pistachios and peanuts. You won’t eat too many that way. And toss out the Doritos and Fritos (but save the potato chips for a luxurious one-ounce portion the next time you need, really need them to go with your sandwich).
- Be bad from time to time. Weirdly, this preserves a long-term diet better than anything. Measure out the bad stuff, eat a small serving of it. Enjoy the hell out of it. But don’t go back for seconds. And never be bad more than two days in a row – the scale will be cruel.
- Eat lots of fruit. Always have a stock of dried fruit on hand – easy with its nice, long shelf life.
- Pre-cut those servings of fruit in the morning. A sliced apple will be eaten when a whole one can be easily deferred. Ditto an orange that’s already been peeled. And how many of you have kept a cantaloupe in the fridge for two weeks because you just can’t get around to cutting it open and slicing it up? I’ve had them go bad on me in that way.
- Keep lots of healthy foods in your refrigerator, your pantry and don’t buy the indulgent stuff in family-sized quantities. Harder to reach for something bad when it’s not in stock.
- Be good to yourself when things get tough. Recognize when you’re eating for the joy of it, versus eating out of boredom, nervousness or even self-hate. In the latter two, be compassionate, observe it, and walk away from the kitchen.
- Celebrate a good life through good food.
Check out my latest blog, entitled “Food, food, food.” Now THAT’S a blog I couldn’t go wrong on! More deliciousness for you here… http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/food-food-food/
Like reading about ballet dancers and their lives behind the scenes? Check out my novels, OFF BALANCE and OUTSIDE THE LIMELIGHT, at http://amzn.com/B00WB224IQ and https://amzn.com/B01M0NIIX0 respectively.
© 2017 Terez Rose
Nutrition for dancers
Author - Alexander Bor isov, World Cup finalist, Vice-Champion of the Russian Dance Union in the European program, coach, Pro-Am coach.
Many people have a passion, one way or another connected with an active life. Recently, more and more often dance sports are preferred as such a hobby. And even amateurs who dance just for fun and to keep the body in good shape should be aware that any athlete needs to eat right. If we are talking about professional dancers, then Proper nutrition is a fairly important component of success. Because dancing uses up a lot of energy, so dancers need to consume enough calories to keep up with physical activity. The dancer's diet should be balanced in terms of the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and the required amount of liquid.
The main function of carbohydrates is energy. All the muscle work that an athlete performs while dancing is due to the breakdown of glycogen. This connection is reserved in the muscles. During physical exertion, it breaks down and releases the energy needed by the muscles.
Carbohydrates should make up more than half of a dancer's diet. Sources of important carbohydrates are fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits, bran bread, brown rice, peas, oatmeal, buckwheat porridge, fresh fruit juice without sugar, wholemeal pasta, red beans, lentils, dark chocolate.
Proteins (proteins, polypeptides) are the main building material of our body, necessary for the restoration of damaged tissues in all organs, the formation of new tissues and muscle fibers as well.
Also, protein serves as a reserve source of energy for us when the main source of carbohydrates is not enough.
Sources of protein are vegetable (lentils, beans, nuts, corn, wheat, rice) and animal products (milk, cottage cheese, meat, eggs, fish), but the former, unlike the latter, bring us exceptional benefits. They do not overwhelm our body with fats, cholesterol and extra calories. With their help, you can get the optimal portion of essential amino acids.
Many dancers are very worried about gaining weight and therefore limit their dietary fat intake very much. However, a diet too low in fat can cause performance degradation and, most importantly, such a diet can lead to serious health consequences for the dancer. The share of fats in the athlete's diet should contain 20% of the total amount of nutrients.
Fats are vegetable (fish oil, olive and sesame oil, fish, nuts) and natural ( meat, eggs, dairy products, chocolate).
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals play an important role in the body, especially in energy production and cell formation. To get important vitamins and minerals, dancers should eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day and choose whole grain breads and cereals. For those who do not consume enough of these products, a multivitamin can be advised.
Water is needed to regulate body temperature, maintain blood circulation, balance salts. Water also maintains the electrolyte balance in the body and removes waste. Fluid is lost through sweat through the body's natural cooling system. And importantly, before a person feels thirsty, his body can lose a very large amount of water. Therefore, dancers should remember to constantly drink water in small portions both before, during and after training.
Estimated power regime can be presented like this:
Breakfast for athlete
Lunch for the athlete
Proper dinner for the athletes should include the following products: 9000 9000 9000
- boiled chicken, beef, rabbit and other dietary meats;
- marine fish;
- hard cheese;
- milk, cottage cheese, kefir or yoghurt.
Important nuances of dancer's nutrition
If you feel hungry between meals, have snacks. Apple or pear, banana, grapes, broccoli will support you in tone. A great way to replenish your energy is to eat yogurt with nuts.
Important : try to avoid sweets and fast food, sugary carbonated drinks. Sometimes it's worth pampering yourself with chocolate or juices. These goodies will give you energy. But don't get carried away.
There is no doubt that nutrition affects the physical activity and endurance of dancers. For the necessary recovery of muscles and ligaments, it is recommended to consume carbohydrates with the calculation of 10 g per 1 kg of body weight.
Do not eat or drink water an hour before training. After the end of classes for half an hour, do not eat anything.
Attention to your nutrition is the success of dance training. Do not limit yourself in food, but eat right and tasty.
Dance to your heart's content. Be healthy and beautiful.
How to eat healthy for dancers | Useful articles and tips from the 🕺dance studio - Under Stand (Anderstend)💃 in Voronezh.
For people who are actively involved in dancing, the issue of proper nutrition sooner or later becomes quite important. For health, any person needs to develop a diet for himself that would provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals. After all, what we eat affects the functioning of almost all systems and organs in our body.
On the other hand, dancers have to keep themselves in shape - to be slim and fit, so foods that are too high in calories disappear by themselves. But, at the same time, with high energy costs, many dancers choose food rich in glucose, which quickly gives strength for a fruitful workout. Let's try to figure out what, in this case, should be included in the dancer's diet.
There is still a difference
While we are young, we rarely think about the fact that nutrition can harm. The body is still working properly, and the prospect of “planting” the liver or “earning” gastritis seems mythical. Moreover, from the school curriculum we know that the body needs both proteins and fats and carbohydrates, therefore, it is foolish to refuse anything from the list. But, not many people know that carbohydrates and fats are different. So, for example, there are so-called "fast" and "slow" carbohydrates. Fast ones are just our favorite chocolate bars and other sweets that supposedly charge you with the energy you need before training. But, the problem is that the mechanism of work of these carbohydrates does not really saturate the body, very little time passes and you want to eat again. Thus, a vicious circle is obtained - the more you eat this “good”, the more you want, the more the sides grow, and the strength does not increase at all.
Among fats there are also, so to speak, useful (unsaturated) and harmful (saturated). Therefore, it is better to avoid the latter in food: avoid fatty meats, butter, coconut and palm oil, which are found in most store-bought products (read labels carefully!). Of course, you should not completely exclude fats - and it won’t work, just try to eat more foods with healthy fats that lower blood cholesterol levels: these are vegetable oil, bran, nuts, avocado oil and peanut butter, and of course, sea fish and seafood.