16th June 2021
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Why Dancers Require Personalised Nutrition

Why Dancers Require Personalised Nutrition
By Crystal Nicholls

Personalised nutrition is a targeted approach to an individual’s nutritional needs, based on their genetics, health history, lifestyle, gender, age, and many other factors that may affect an individual. As dancers, we are under constant pressure from choreographers, teachers, peers and casting directors to maintain an “ideal” body weight, perform our best, and maintain energy levels.

But how many of us focus on how we feel? How many of us focus on why we feel the way we feel? We cannot punish ourselves into achieving a “better” body. Many of us practise disordered eating in a misguided attempt to beat ourselves into an “ideal” bodyweight.

We think “if I just eat less I will lose weight.”

This is simply not true. The truth is, calorie-restricting slows your metabolism, resulting in muscle loss. It also lowers your immunity, weakens your bones, and causes fatigue and nutrient deficiencies.

We need to perform our best and more importantly–feel our best!

One problem is that disordered eating is not diagnosable – unlike eating disorders. So many dancers aren’t even aware that their eating patterns are a problem. Furthermore, disordered eating, perfectionism and unhealthy body image are so engrained in dance culture that these issues are often seen as normal.

So how can we reach our ideal body goals and feel great while doing it?

Incorporating Personalised Nutrition

There are several elements that contribute to why dancers may benefit from personalised nutrition.

The Microbiome

We each have a unique microbiome which is the community of microbes (fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc) living in our gut. Research shows that the gut microbiome modifies the effect of diet and exercise on our bodies.

The truth is, no two microbiomes are the same, which means no two dietary needs are the same.

There is no universal diet!

The key is to focus on nourishing your body, rather than depriving it. Some of the most important questions we focus on in personalised nutrition are: What foods make you feel good? Which foods help you feel and perform your best?

Basal Metabolic Rate

Your basal metabolic rate rate is the number of calories your body needs to perform its most basic, life-sustaining functions. It is determined by your sex, weight, age, height, and other factors.

Although knowing your basal metabolic rate can be important in determining the number of calories needed, as dancers, we also need to be aware of the fact that we are more active than the average population.

This means that we need more calories than estimated for our basal metabolic rates. In fact, we often underestimate the number of calories we need, which can lead to muscle loss, weakness and malnutrition.

Feeling Our Best

Remember that dance is supposed to be fun! We started dancing because we enjoyed it, not because we wanted to fit into a certain ideal body image.

Personalised nutrition allows us to figure out what makes us feel good, so we can perform our best and achieve our goals holistically.

To find out more about how I can help you create a personalised nutrition plan that works for you, apply to work with me here.

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