Ballet Dancer Nutrition
(handy for everyone who exercises!)
Today’s topic is ballet dancer nutrition – vegan options! This is also handy information for general exercise and those of you seeking healthier options which provide great energy and nutrients for your body.
As us dancers know, eating the right food is really important. Especially if we want our bodies to be at their best and provide a great performance. Plus of course, ensuring we have great stamina and our muscles can recover quickly too.
I have teamed up with Deborah Spink who is a body builder and leads a very active lifestyle. Plus I have also done a lot of other research to provide you all with a helpful guide on what to eat for dance and fitness. Deborah Spink can be found at:
Let’s break this down into handy sections:
What’s vital for nutrition for exercise and for dancers?
Deborah tells us that a healthy balanced diet with good amounts of vegetables, proteins and good fats is key. It’s important to stay feeling full in order to not snack on high calorie unhealthy snacks. This is where I personally used to go wrong and end up pigging out on nasty stuff after a high impact class because I always feel super hungry after a class and in a rush to eat! I have fortunately learnt to listen to my body and eat what is best for the long run. So, with this in mind, preparing what you are going to eat in advance will be handy… This will stop you from going for the bad junk foods after class.
Stop relying on coffee and energy drinks… What’s best to drink?…
I asked Deborah what her opinion was on dancers who have a tendency to rely on coffee and energy drinks. I myself enjoy a coffee but I have cut down a lot on my caffeine intake. I also stay away from energy drinks now.
Deborah tells us that food should be the main source of energy. If you rely on energy drinks and coffee then you probably aren’t eating right. When eating the right foods you should feel energized and focused. Energy drinks often contain large amounts of sugar, sweeteners and caffeine which can leave you feeling a temporary buzz that is usually followed by a low. Deborah suggests eating foods that release energy slowly such as oats.
Should dancers banish the fizzy drinks if they are serious about good health and performance?
Deborah believes that fizzy drinks are certainly not good. They are gaseous and the non diet options are full of sugar plus of course the diet versions are full of sweeteners! If you absolutely must have a fizzy drink, Deborah recommends on special occasion or for a cheat meal once a week and don’t go overboard with them.
I myself used to be addicted to fizzy drinks when I was younger. I weened myself off them and the benefits were incredibly for my health and skin! I now drink mainly water, juices, smoothies and teas such as green tea.
This leads me onto the best slow release energy foods, here’s a handy list:
– Lentils, chickpeas, beans.
– Vegan snack bars such as Trek bars, etc.
– Complex carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, potatoes. Remember to opt for the brown versions in regards to rice and pasta.
So, it’s a no brainer that drinking plenty of water and keeping hydrated is key. Plus not going over board with fizzy drinks, energy drinks and caffeine.
Best start to the day… Breakfast options.
I myself am not a breakfast person but I do try to force myself to have at least a juice or smoothie and a piece of fruit. Deborah’s guide on a good breakfast is as follows:
Oaks soaked overnight in unsweetened soya milk and eaten with a bit of banana (bare you mind you could also replace soya milk for almond, rice, oat or other milks, whatever you fancy!) Plus, if you can have nuts then adding almonds is helpful too. She also recommends plan soya yoghurt with dates or a small amount of date nectar or agave nectar. Herbal tea with no sugar is also a great drink. I personally recommend green tea or warm water with lemon and ginger. Plus of course juices, smoothies and plenty of plain water too.
Best items to eat after class or at the end of a performance or rehearsal…. High protein snacks.
Deborah says that refueling after a rehearsal could be done with hemp protein blended with unsweetened soya milk, oats and a banana. She also recommends making some pre prepped protein bars or you could have a banana with peanut butter spread on wholegrain vegan crackers. I personally also enjoy a banana with lotus biscuit spread also known as biscoff spread 🙂
Vegan energy and protein bars
I asked Deborah’s opinion on energy and protein bars and asked her if she had any recommendations which were vegan. She recommended trying to make some and there are plenty of good recipes, here are a few:
– No-Bake Almond Joy Granola Bars: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/05/23/no-bake-almond-joy-granola-bars/
– Feel Good Hearty Granola Bars: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/05/20/feel-good-hearty-granola-bars/
– Soft + Chewy Baked Granola Bars: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/08/soft-chewy-sugar-free-baked-granola-bars/
– Quick ’n Easy No-Bake Protein Bars: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/08/29/quick-n-easy-no-bake-protein-bars/
– Chia Energy Bars: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/chia-energy-bars/
Top 10 list of snacks for on the go dancers who need an energy lift:
Deborah’s top 10 list of snacks suitable for vegans.
1. Quinoa, mange tout, celery, sweet potato and seeds (cold).
2. Peanut or Almond butter with rye bread.
3. Kale chips.
5. Beans or bean humous with veg.
6. Mashed sweet potato.
9. Soya yoghurt with a few dates.
10. Protein bars.
Foods that help with aiding recovery from injury.
As we know, dancers are super prone to injury. Especially more so during show season what with all the rehearsals and pushing their bodies to the max. Deborah suggests good fats such as Udo’s omega 3-6-9 you can see the benefits here:
Should dancers who are performing everyday up their protein intake?
Dancing everyday and performing takes up a lot of energy and you are required to have excellent stamina. Deborah says that increased protein intake will help muscle repair so it’s indeed a good idea to increase your intake with an active lifestyle.
Recommended juices and smoothies for dancers and those you do regular exercise. Plus info regarding chia seeds, flax seeds and wheat grass, etc.
Deborah recommends wheat grass, ginger and apple is a refreshing boost to energise as a juice. Vita coco coconut water is also great because it contains high potassium levels which will rehydrate you faster than water. It’s the best quality and purest coconut water that she knows on the entire market).
I personally recommend chia seeds as they are very high in protein and just 2 tablespoons a day incorporated into smoothies, juices, on salads, fruit, etc provide an excellent protein source and high in omega 3.
Here’s some smoothie recipes:
– The Perfect Smoothie Formula: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/the-perfect-smoothie-formula/
– Raw Pineapple Papaya Smoothie: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/pineapple-papaya-smoothie/
– Thrive Raw Energy Gel: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/thrive-energy-gel-recipe/