Author: Annika Russo

Nutrition for Dancers

The dancer’s body is the tool and the machine that makes possible the beauty of the movement. Without proper fuel and hydration, the body machine cannot perform at its best. The potential rehearsed through so many hours in the studio cannot be realized, and injuries are more likely without the nutrients, energy, and fluids necessary to make the body work optimally. What food-fuel is required for each dancer is an individual regiment, but it requires careful planning to ensure that consideration is made for three meals, two to three snacks, and over 64 ounces of water each day. In addition, balanced amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats need to be consumed throughout a training day to ensure that the muscles have the fuel they need to perform in class, rehearsal, and performances. While the Food Guide Pyramid and the new My Plate guides are an excellent resource to start a dancer toward healthy eating, ensuring proper timing of the macronutrients becomes essential in fueling and hydrating the body before, during, and after exercise. Look up the PDF Building a Performance Plate (… ) to get more information on using food routines to boost your energy and performance levels.

Does this all sound complicated? We have support from the OSU Dance Medicine team! If you missed the lecture during Reparatory Company in February, or need to clarify your notes from Meghan’s talk, I’ve included here a lot of resources to help you on the journey to fueling your dancing machine! International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) wrote a nutrition resource paper for dancers to understand the role food and hydration play in training. It can be found at:

Many valuable services are available through OSU Sports Medicine at the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute. A Nutritional Consult, an individual meeting with a nutritionist, can develop meal plans, allergy/ dietary restrictions, schedules, and tips for dance nutrition and is $75 out of pocket (or can be billed through insurance at a higher rate). The iDXA scan, which provides the dancer with a complete breakdown of her body composition including body fat and bone health, is $50! This scan does require a doctor’s prescription and is not covered by insurance. The last service available measures RMR (resting metabolic rate) and that is $25. This particular service is only available in the morning and provides a patient with how many calories their body burns just to maintain normal bodily functions. All this can be very informative for an athlete to understand about her body in order to know how to best care for it.

Once you understand what your body needs to perform its best, OSU’s Sport Nutrition Pinterest board—OSU Sports Nutrition—gives many recipe ideas for your menu planning.

OSU’s Sports Nutrition has an Instagram account (OhioState_Sportsnut) which gives you a daily blog to help keep you motivated on your journey.

As always, Ms. Annika is available in the Wellness Studio to brainstorm with you, encourage you, and give you resources to best care for your body. Happy fueling!

100 Calorie Snack Ideas

This list gives ideas for what approximately 100 calories looks like. This list is ideas for snacks at the theater. Between shows, when there is a little more time, dancers might want to consume more than 100 calories (a meal) to ensure that they have sustained energy for a longer time period.

  • ½ plain whole-grain bagel
  • 2 small oatbites (oats, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, honey rolled together)
  • 2 fig type cookies
  • 20 mini-pretzels (quick burst energy)
  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread with 1 tsp nut butter (longer sustained energy)
  • 1 medium banana
  • ½ banana with 2 tsp of peanut butter spread on it
  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 1 large apple
  • 3 small peaches
  • 25 seedless grapes
  • ½ cantaloupe with ¼ cup granola topping
  • ½ cup sweetened applesauce with ¼ cup berries
  • ½ cup cottage cheese with ¼ cup fruit 6 oz low-fat yogurt (120 cal) Try Soy or Coconut yogurt
  • ½ cup (4oz) ice cream (110 cal) Watch portions, ½ cup isn’t very big
  • 4 squares of graham crackers
  • 20 yogurt raisins
  • 1 piece string cheese and 5 crackers
  • 1 cup soy or almond milk blended with ½ cup frozen peaches (120 cal)
  • 1 large orange (2 Clementines)
  • 5 dried apricots
  • 1.5 cups regular popcorn
  • 1 cup sweet red pepper slices with 3 tbs hummus
  • 1 cup baby carrots with 1.5 tbs of ranch dressing