Ballet is a contemporary art form that originated in Italy and later spread to other parts of the world to become the highly technical and widely recognized dance form we know today. Ballet dance involves the learning of choreography and accompanying music for a ballet production.
Like any other top sport, it requires dedication, extensive and intensive training, and most importantly, a healthy diet. Most ballet dancers tend to have lean bodies with strong muscles that help them execute performances gracefully and with the dynamic agility of an athlete. Even though their bodies are great, but you don’t have to starve yourself to achieve it. You can still have your meals just like you would on regular days because it’s all about how, what and when you eat as opposed to whether you eat or not.
Here is all you need to know when to choose when preparing a ballet dancer diet:
1. Eating (and Avoiding) Specific Foods
The most important thing to note is that any foods taken should have low-calorie levels and be extremely rich in proteins. Different individuals require different calorie levels depending on their training program (especially for sports persons), age and size. If you are a female dancer involved in intensive training, you can try the recommended daily dose of 20 to 23 calories per pound of bodyweight, which burns around 3,000 calories per day.
Let’s now talk about why proteins should be part and parcel of your diet. In addition to building and repairing muscles, the amino acids found in protein-rich foods such as eggs, fish, poultry and meat are also essential in the formation of healthy red blood cells. Carbohydrates are another group of foods that should be part of your diet because you need energy.
However, be wary of dense carbohydrates such as refined grains and sugar, which can cause energy crashes. Other foods/drinks you can take include black coffee, soy milk, yogurt, golden linseed, porridge oats, nuts, strawberries and whole grains such as quinoa, pasta, rice and bread.
2. Healthy Fats
Seems ironic that you would need to have fats as part of your ballet dancer diet, right? It turns out they act as a backup energy source when the carbohydrate reserves are low, meaning they cannot be avoided. The key to making sure your body fat level stays within the standard 18-20% is getting your fat from low-fat foods such as nuts and nut butter, olive oil, tuna and salmon, or any other fatty cold-water fish. Healthy fats also go a long way in lowering unhealthy cholesterol levels in your blood.
3. Eating with Portions
Dancers and generally all human beings need to eat for many reasons. Not only does food boost energy levels, but it also ensures your mental capacity to think and process information is working at its best. Whichever the case, one should eat food in moderate amounts, paying keen attention to having a proper breakfast and lunch.
The golden rule for a ballet dancer diet is that the amount of food you eat should be relative to your size, as well as the energy you expend. Besides, eat appropriate amounts of food from each of the different food groups. Daily, fruits and vegetables should account for 30%, carbohydrates 30%, proteins 20%, milk and dairy products such as cheese 15%, fats and sugar 5%.
4. Plan Your Meal Times
Instead of taking large portions of food three times a day, how about you break down your feeding habits into 5 or 6 meals per day? This puts you in a better position to maintain your blood sugar numbers at an ideal level and reduce the chances of experiencing inconsistencies in your body metabolic rhythm, appetite attacks, or weakness, which come as a result of fasting for an extended period.
While going for a training session, make sure you carry some snacks in your bag to munch away at least every 3-5 hours during the day.
5. Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables
Make sure you have at least five servings of fruits such as cherries, berries, oranges and kiwis by the end of the day, accompanied by salads with a myriad of fresh chunky vegetables. What’s more, you could choose to have your salad with grilled chicken or fish, depending on your preference.
Fruits and vegetables provide the body with vitamins while also making the bones and muscles a lot healthier, hence averting any possibilities of muscle cramping while training or performing on stage.
6. Take Enough Water
Although we tend to forget to take water regularly, a balanced dancer’s diet is incomplete without water. To evade dehydration, drink enough water (about eight glasses per day) before, during, and after your dance rehearsals.
Keep in mind stage performances are also about aesthetics. How appealing you look in terms of your physique determines whether or not you get attention in the first few minutes. If you are a professional dancer, make sure you adjust your diet accordingly, and if you are seeking to eat healthily, feel free also to adopt these tips.