Nutrition for Dancers: Focus on Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat

Dancers shouldn't skip meals, but should eat a well-balanced diet.

Dancers should eat a healthy diet in order to perform their best.

I’m often asked nutrition questions by teenage dancers or parents. Since I am not a registered dietician, providing a meal plan would not be appropriate. However, the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) has published several position papers with guidelines to answer these questions.

Question: How much should a dancer eat?
Answer: 45-50 calories/kg body weight for females and 50-55 calories/kg body weight for males on days of intense training.

Question: How many carbohydrates should a dancer eat?
Answer: 6-10 grams/kg body weight

Question: Is a low fat diet safe for dancers?
Answer: IADMS recommends a diet of 55-65% carbohydrate, 12-15% protein, and 20-30% fat. If these macronutrients are not in balance, the dancer may have difficulty maintaining enough energy to meet the demands of performing and recovering from their activity. Therefore having a diet low in any macronutrient is not recommended.

The answers provided in this post are quoted/paraphrased from “Fueling the Dancer,” a position paper created for the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.