As a dancer, it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One of the most important aspects of health for a dancer is diet. Proper fuel for the body is extremely important in order to maintain proper energy levels, avoid injury, and stay well during competition season so that personal performance will not suffer. Successful dancers should intake nutritious snacks and also maintain a balanced diet consisting of adequate fluids, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Proper hydration is essential for everyone, but dancers are especially prone to problems should adequate fluid intake be compromised. Dancers workout on a daily basis, sometimes with extremely strenuous routines. Essential fluids are burned out of the body, as a natural cooling mechanism, through sweat. Because water is required by the body to not only keep thirst at bay, but to preserve necessary salt and electrolyte levels and support proper circulation, continuous fluid intake is extremely important. Dancers must remember to hydrate throughout the day by consuming small amounts of water continuously, not just at the point of thirst. It's possible, if not probable, to become dehydrated long before the feeling of thirst begins. Therefore, dancers must drink small amounts of water at all times - before, during, and after workouts, as well as on rest days.
Carbohydrates, also known as carbs or starches, should comprise a majority of a dancers food intake, about 50% to 65%. One of the great things about carbs is that they tend to stick with you for longer amounts of time than sugary snacks. A high carb diet will not move through a dancer's system so quickly which means these foods will continue to feed the body and produce more energy for longer periods of time. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods such as bagels, brown rice, cereals, breads, potatoes, and pastas.
All too often, dancers will concern themselves with becoming overweight and begin to limit their overall consumption of fatty foods. However, there are foods that are considered to be "good" fats. Foods such as avocados, nuts, fish, and some seafood, all contain high levels of fat, but these are low in saturated fats, or "bad" fats, and are quite essential to healthy eating. For a dancer, restricting intake of good fats can be detrimental to overall health and significantly impair performance levels. Therefore, maintaining a healthy level of fat of around 20% to 30% of the general diet is crucial.
Studies show that protein is an important component with regard to maintaining, producing, and repairing essential lean muscles in the body. Without adequate protein levels to fuel muscles, a dancers body would not have the strength to perform at such great levels that are required for success. As much as 12% to 15% of a dancer's overall diet should consist of lean proteins found in meat and poultry, beans, tofu, legumes, and certain types of fish.
One of the most essential elements to overall good health is an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. Also called micronutrients. They are responsible for red blood cell formation and maintenance, as well as sufficient energy production. Vitamins and minerals also aid in repairing over-worked muscles helping to recover from performances or workouts. In addition, certain vitamins support bone health and formation which is essential for dancers. As a general rule, dancers should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day consisting of fresh, whole grains and breads, dairy products, and lean red meat. In order to prevent an overload of any one type of vitamin or mineral, which could be harmful, it's imperative that dancers eat a variety of nutrient-rich food. For those that are unable to consume sufficient nutrients, a multivitamin is strongly encouraged to maintain acceptable levels.