What Does a Ballerina Eat? Here's the Average Ballet Dancer Diet

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ballerina Diet

One ballet performance can take up to 5,000 hours of practice. As they practice, ballerinas have to make sure their bodies are fueled with the right vitamins and minerals. After all, ballerinas are athletes.

A balanced diet can help them remain lean and strong. At the same time, eating the right food can give them the energy they need to get through rehearsals. 

What does a ballerina eat, exactly? Keep reading to find out. In this guide, we'll review an average ballet dancer diet.

It's a misconception that ballerinas don't eat. Instead, read on to discover the healthy diet ballerinas need to keep on their toes!

Nutritional Balance

It's important for ballerinas to start their days off right! A healthy breakfast can give them the fuel they need to make it through the day.

Ballerinas dance anywhere between four to 10 hours each day. A busy dance card means they're burning as much as 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day. In order to keep their bodies fueled, ballerinas need to eat between 1,600 and 2,200 daily.

How many calories they burn and how much they need to eat varies based on their practice schedule. Their roles and other activities throughout the day can have an impact, too. 

Professional dancers know that eating a healthy diet is essential. Otherwise, they'll lack the energy they need to survive their hectic schedule. 

Ballerinas prioritize eating balanced meals. Each meal needs to contain saturated fat, protein, and carbohydrates. These three components work together to help ballerinas maintain their endurance.

The proper balance can also help them maintain their muscular strength and energy levels. Starving, on the other hand, can impact their joint and bone health. Ballerinas need to stay strong to get through their practices and performances. 

Ballet dancers might balance their diet with:

 

    • 55% complex carbohydrates (pasta, whole grains, fruit)
    • 20% lean protein (turkey breast, tofu, fish)
    • 25% unsaturated fats (olive oil, nuts)

 

That's right: ballerinas do eat carbs. Eating a variety of foods can help ballerinas remain limber and improve their flexibility. It can also help them avoid injuries.

Starvation tactics could deprive a ballerina of the fuel and nutrients she needs.

Breakfast

Ballet dancers might eat all day long to maintain their energy levels. It's also important that they remain hydrated, especially if they have a busy schedule. Water can help flush out any toxins in the ballerina's body.

It can also benefit their muscle strength. 

In addition to drinking water, dancers can also eat fruits as an additional water source.

Many ballerinas start with a high-protein breakfast. Protein ensures they can maintain their energy levels and push themselves during practice. 

Breakfast might include eggs or a protein smoothie. A healthy, balanced smoothie can include almond milk, nuts, spinach, protein powder, and a banana.

Ballerinas skip sugary cereals full of simple carbs. A sugar-filled breakfast can spike a ballerina's blood sugar levels. As a result, they might feel sluggish and hungry again, even after eating.

Instead, a balance of protein and fiber is essential. Protein sparks the body's metabolism and stimulates brain cells. It also helps ballerinas remain satisfied until lunchtime.

Snack

Skipping a meal can cause ballerinas to lose their coordination. It can also leave them feeling dizzy and hungry between meals. An ideal ballet dancer diet includes snacks to help ballerinas stay energized. 

For example, a ballerina might eat almond butter on oat crackers and a banana between breakfast and lunch. This snack balances fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Ballerinas can use the carbohydrates' glucose for energy, which is essential for high-intensity exercise. The fat helps with long-running, low-intensity training. 

Boiled eggs are also a great snack. Eggs contain a mix of nutrients, including:

  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A
  • B2
  • B5
  • B12

B12 helps the body produce red blood cells. It also improves the nervous system function, helping a ballerina's body fight off disease and illness.

Other snacks can include vegetables and hummus, string cheese, or a mix of dried nuts and fruit.

Lunch

ballerina diet lunch

A healthy ballerina diet includes whole foods (rather than processed foods). Whole foods can include legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, fruits, and vegetables. In order to keep their diet balanced, ballerinas need to remain wary of their serving sizes.

A healthy, balanced lunch can include roasted chicken, mixed vegetables, quinoa, and raspberries. 

Foods that contain turmeric and ginger can also provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation is the body's response to injury. Reducing inflammation levels can help ballerinas avoid fatigue.

Good anti-inflammatory foods include tomatoes, leafy greens, olive oil, and fatty fish.

Salads are great lunches for professional dancers, too. Some dancers prefer lighter meals before practices. A light, nutrient-filled lunch might include a veggie-packed salad with lean protein on top.

Good protein sources can include grilled chicken or fish. Tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and black beans contain phytonutrients and antioxidants, too. These proteins can help energize ballerinas before their next practice. 

Dinner

After a long day of dancing, it's important for a ballerina to replenish their glycogen levels. The body mobilizes glycogen when it needs fuel. 

Most dancers eat light meals to avoid bloating during rehearsals. To make up for lighter meals during the day, they might eat a heavy dinner. Balanced meals can include lean protein, antioxidant-rich vegetables, and whole grains.

Lean protein helps with muscle recovery. Vegetables, on the other hand, relieve sore muscles. Whole grains can help replenish stored fuel, allowing ballerinas to take on a new day.

A balanced ballerina diet might also include lentils. Lentils can help a ballerina replenish their glycogen levels. Lentils also help repair muscle tissue while keeping protein and carbohydrate levels balanced. 

To end the day, professional dancers can enjoy a dessert of fresh fruits, which can aid muscle recovery. Another delicious dessert includes dark chocolate-covered bananas topped with nuts (to replace an ice cream sundae).

Eating Right Between Pirouettes: The Average Ballet Dancer Diet

Ballerinas need to maintain their energy levels between pirouettes and performances. The ideal ballet dancer diet includes the right balance of vitamins and minerals. With balanced meals, ballerinas can remain on their toes before dancing the day away.

Your little dancer can develop their own healthy diet to remain fit and in tip-top shape, even during quarantine!

Ready to buy your little dancer their first pair of ballet shoes? Use this comprehensive ballet shoe buying guide to size it right!

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