What Dancers Eat

The Worst Nutrition Advice This Dance Dietitian Has Ever Heard

Don't just trust what others say you should—or shouldn't—be eating. Photo by Toa Haftiba/Unsplash

When it comes to what you should be eating, rumors often catch on like wildfire. Dietitian Rachel Fine, who works with dancers in New York City, shares the most misguided nutrition strategies she's recently encountered.


Rumor: Drink Bulletproof Coffee Every Morning.

Give your body carbs when it wakes up. Photo by Mikesh Kaos/Unsplash

Reality: The trendy recipe, which mixes butter and oil into coffee, isn't really what your body needs when you wake up. "When you sleep, your body's using most of its glycogen stores," says Fine. "The best thing when you wake up is not drinking caffeine and fat, but replenishing your carb stores."

Rumor: Only Eat Organic.

Don't let a focus on organic products keep you from eating healthy. Photo by Megan Hodges/Unsplash

Reality: Fine supports buying organic when it comes to any fruit or vegetable where you eat the skin, and any dairy products, meat or fish. But she sees dancers get overly obsessive. "It turns into a fear of eating out if they don't have access to organic food," she says.

Rumor: Eat a Tablespoon of Coconut Oil Per Day.

Coconut oil is great for moisturizing, but doesn't need to be part of your daily diet. Photo by Jonas Ducker/Unsplash

Reality: "Coconut oil is actually high in saturated fats, not healthy fat," she says. You're better off incorporating olive oil or avocado oil into your diet instead.

Rumor: Completely Cut Out Carbs.

Carbs give you energy to dance. Photo by Sarah Boyle/Unsplash

Reality: "Each macronutrient has its own job," says Fine. "Carbs give us energy, protein helps repair muscle, fat is critical for healing." If you're not giving your body enough carbs for energy, it's going to use protein instead, which will break down your muscles.

Rumor: MCT Oils Give You Better Energy.

Medium-chain fatty acids break down faster than long-chain fats, but you're unlikely to see real benefits. Photo by Katherine Hanlon/Unsplash.

Reality: It's true that your body can break down this medium-chain fatty acid (found in certain foods with saturated fats) more quickly than long-chain fats. "But you don't really see those energy benefits unless you're a super-intense, Michael Phelps kind of athlete," says Fine. Even then, the science behind it is pretty preliminary.

Rumor: Swap Out Sugar for Stevia.

Sugar (in moderation) is likely safer than substitutes. Photo by Joanna Kosinska/Unsplash

Reality: Unless a client is being treated for diabetes, Fine recommends regular table sugar in moderation: "It's been around forever, and there are no chemicals in it." You're better off with one teaspoon of the real stuff than multiple packets of something that has little research behind it.

The Conversation
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Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

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Advice for Dancers
Photo by Ali Müftüoğulları, Courtesy Unsplash

Whenever I'm cast in a solo role, I'm consumed with thoughts of everything that could go wrong. Please help.

—Isabella, Philadelphia, PA

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