Diet & Nutrition for Dancers

A pair of dancers doing the tango in a ballroom.
A pair of dancers doing the tango in a ballroom. (Image: muratsenel/iStock/Getty Images)

Moving, jumping and spinning requires energy. Following a healthy diet gives dancers the energy they need to effectively perform these moves. When your body has a ready supply of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, it can perform at its peak and will have the energy it needs to repair itself.


Dancers require a greater number of daily calories than a more sedentary person, due to all of the working out that they must do. Rough estimates are that female dancers need 45 to 50 calories per kilogram of body weight and male dancers need 50 to 55 calories per kilogram of body weight. If your body doesn't have enough calories, you won't have the energy you need to dance even if all the vitamins and nutrients are in balance.


Carbohydrates are your body's energy source, and as a dancer your diet should be made up of 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, according to the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. During periods of heavy training or strenuous performances you can increase carbohydrate intake to 65 percent. Avoid simple carbohydrates like sugar and include complex carbohydrate sources like cereal, pasta, breads and potatoes. One to three hours before working out or performing, dancers should have a meal that primarily consists of complex carbohydrates. During long rehearsals, dancers should take a break and consume a sports drink that will provide a proper balance of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should also be consumed after a workout to replace the carbohydrates that have been used up.


Your body uses protein to repair muscle tissue and build new tissue, and it helps strengthen dancing muscles so they can perform complicated dance moves. Protein should make up 12 to 15 percent of a dancer's diet. Get protein from lean meats, poultry, and beans and other legumes.


Fat is necessary to help your organs function properly, help your body absorb vitamins and act as a secondary energy source. Fats should make up 20 to 30 percent of a dancer's diet. Consume unsaturated fats rather than saturated. Avocados, nuts and seafood -- such as salmon or mackerel -- provide the healthy fats you want in your diet, notes

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals help your body function properly and help you use the energy from carbohydrates. Dancers should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to provide a variety of the vitamins and minerals a body needs. Vitamins A, C and E are particularly useful in helping a dancer recover from a workout. For those vitamins and minerals that you might not get enough of in your regular diet, take a multivitamin daily.


Though it doesn't have vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates or anything else, water is necessary for a dancer. Water helps regulate body temperature, maintain circulation, keep salts and electrolytes in balance and remove wastes. During times of physical activity you will lose a lot of water through perspiration so consuming water on a regular basis is beneficial, according to "Lifetime Fitness for Lifetime Activities" by Virginia Politino and Mickie R. McCormick.

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