A lot of misconceptions about a dancer’s diet come from the light figure that many have. When people see a lean, muscular figure, they might assume that it comes from dieting and numerous dietary restrictions. In actuality, a dancer’s diet involves more food than you might think! It’s easy to forget that a large part of a professional dancer’s skills are in the stamina and athleticism they possess in order to be able to go through an entire day of dancing. To account for all the energy needed, as well as all the calories that will be burnt during dance, dancers have to eat more than the average person! Here are three misconceptions many people have about a dancer’s diet:
Fats Are Always Bad
While many diets tend to focus on skipping out on fats completely, not all fats are bad news. In fact, fats are a great source of energy and are useful for a high-intensity dance day! Fats not only fill you up, but they also carry fat-soluble vitamins with them. These vitamins also help to release energy and regulate muscle function. That being said, getting your fats from deep frying your meals is not the best way. Unsaturated fats are best – fats that come from avocados, nuts and seeds.
Red Meat Is The Best Source Of Protein
While red meat might have high amounts of protein, it comes with high amounts of saturated fats that make red meat a less optimal source of protein and may cause a host of diseases. White meats and fish are better sources of protein because they have less fat. For vegetarians and those who are environmentally conscious, you can get protein from a plant-based diet too! Soybeans contain a high amount of protein, as well as most seeds, nuts, and lentils. You can, therefore, get your protein fix from foods like tofu, tempeh, chickpeas or almonds (just ask our teachers!).
Sugary Foods And Chocolate Are Great For Energy
While sugar provides immediate energy, this energy comes in spikes. Sugar provides short term energy with an immediate drop that then results in fatigue. Sugar and chocolate are therefore not great sources for energy. Better sources are complex carbohydrates like wholegrain foods or good fats. Fruits are also a superior source of sugars to candy or chocolate, and they come with the additional benefit of vitamins, too.
Dancers usually find the best diets for themselves through trial and error. It’s easy for your body to figure out what is giving it energy and what is leaving it fatigued during a day of dancing. In an article in Elle Magazine, ballerina Misty Copeland (principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre) shares her usual everyday diet. She goes through all the foods that give her energy and what helps her be at her best every day. Perhaps her diet can be inspirational for some!