Looking to get a leg up at your next big audition? Eat well! Dietary decisions can make the difference between an energized performance and a sluggish one, but knowing exactly what to choose can be tricky. We gathered expert recommendations on what to eat the night before and morning of, as well as what to snack on throughout your next audition day.
The Night Before
"Don't diet your way to an audition day," says dietitian Heidi Skolnik. "The pound you lose from not eating the day before won't help you dance any better." Skipping a meal can cause fatigue, reducing reaction time and ultimately increasing your risk of injury.
Dietitian Sarah Krieger recommends eating a balance of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fat. This combination will take longer to get to your muscles and bloodstream or turn into glucose. "Chicken tenders and fries won't get your blood flowing the way you want it to for the next day," says Krieger.
As for Broadway veteran and upcoming West Side Story movie cast member Eloise Kropp, her pre-audition dinners include roasted vegetables, potatoes, and protein from beans, eggs, nuts or seeds. But remember that the same nutritional choices aren't right for everyone. "Maybe you find that vegetables bloat you," says Skolnik. "If that's the case, it's okay to skip veggies for one night."
Finally, be sure to stay hydrated all day long. "A good benchmark is to be sure you need to release your bladder every few hours," says Skolnik, "and that your urine looks like lemonade rather than apple juice."
• Brown rice or quinoa with lean steak, and peppers and onions cooked in avocado oil or olive oil
• Salmon with asparagus and sweet potatoes
• Penne pasta with chicken breast, zucchini, tomatoes and basil pesto
The Morning Of
Make your breakfast decisions based on the day's tentative schedule and intensity. "If you are up at 8 am and your audition isn't until 11 am, you will have some time to digest and should eat something that will stay with you," says Skolnik. Kropp's go-to breakfast is yogurt with fruit and granola. "I know the probiotics will get me moving, and they don't bloat me," she says. "Some people don't like to have dairy before an audition, but it doesn't affect my voice at all."
Avoid any ingredients that tend to upset your stomach. "Don't eat things that are high in fiber or aren't easily digested," says Krieger, noting that foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds and, for some people, certain fruits may cause gas. "Anything fried or super-high in fat will stay in the stomach longer than you'd like."
• Cereal with milk and an apple
• Oatmeal with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
• Whole-wheat toast with nut butter and a mango
Since you don't always know how long an audition will last—or how long you may be stuck waiting to dance—be prepared with a few snacks that will keep you going. "You don't realize how much energy you exert when learning the combo and then doing it in groups," Kropp says. "Sometimes I will take a quick bite of a banana or a KIND bar because I need some oomph."
Skolnik recommends bringing snacks you can eat one bite at a time while sitting in a holding area. "Take things that can be easily broken up and divided, so that you can snack based on how much time you have before dancing again." Choose foods that are easy to digest, reminds Krieger.
• Peanut butter sandwiches cut into quarters
• Small container of pasta (regular, rather than whole-grain, is best for quick digestion)
• Cup of yogurt with a banana
• Cottage cheese with peach slices
• Energy bar that's high in protein but low in sugar
1. Don't feel pressure to copy what another dancer eats. "There are no magical foods," Skolnik says. "Just because something works for your friends doesn't mean it will work for you."
2. Don't try any new foods before an audition. "Test out what makes you feel best for classes and rehearsals months ahead of time," Krieger says.
3. Be smart about your caffeine intake. "Pay attention to how it stimulates your body," Skolnik says. "Does it make you nervous? Does it make you go to the bathroom?" If caffeine is part of a routine that works for you, great. If not, don't add it.
4. Drink plenty of water. "Don't overdo it," says Kropp, "but don't avoid drinking because you are concerned about needing to go to the bathroom during an audition." Asking to use the restroom is a far better alternative to looking depleted because you're dehydrated.