Event date: January 11, 2020 at Piedmont School of Music and Dance in Kannapolis

Presenter: Kaylee Helfrich, doctoral student in nutrition, Smith Lab, UNC Nutrition Research Institute

Why is good nutrition important for dancers?
•Gives you energy to get through tough classes, rehearsals, and performances
•Improves your ability to handle the rigors of training to be a dancer
•Helps you avoid injuries
•Promotes recovery after rigorous dancing (or recovery from any injuries)
•Helps you maintain a healthy weight
•Helps you feel better while dancing and not dancing!

Dancers are elite athletes who have different nutrition requirements than non-dancers

Carbohydrates are one of the most important nutrients to fuel a dancer, and foods that are a source of healthy carbohydrates should be something that dancers rely on heavily. Dancers need ~3-5 grams of carbohydrates per day, per kilogram of their body weight. This translates to 160-270g of carbohydrates for a 120-pound dancer, which is the equivalent of 9-16 pieces of bread. Good sources of healthy carbohydrates are fruits and vegetables, whole grains (ex. brown rice, oats, farro, quinoa, bulgur, barley), and legumes (ex. beans and lentils).

Proteins are also important for dancers, as these provide the building blocks for muscles, and help to repair muscles that are worn out from dancing. Dancers need ~1.2-1.7 g of protein per day, per kilogram of their body weight. This translates to 65-93g of protein for a 120-pound dancer, which is the equivalent of 10-15 eggs. Good sources of healthy proteins are found in both animal- and plant-based foods. Animal-based foods high in protein include fish, lean meats (chicken, turkey), eggs, cheese, milk, and yogurt. Plant-based foods high in protein include legumes, nuts and seeds, and plant-based protein powders.

Fats are important, as they provide energy and vitamins that can only be absorbed with fat (A, D, E, and K). Dancers need ~ 20-35% of their total calories for the day to come from healthy fats. This translates to 44-77g of fat daily for a 120-pound dancer, which is the equivalent of 3-6 tablespoons of olive oil. Eating less than 20% of your daily calories as fats can impair your ability to dance. Good sources of healthy fats include nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, avocados, olive oil, fish, and lean meats (chicken, turkey).

Water is important, and dancers can lose up to 2 liters of water during rehearsals. Dancers should make sure to drink at least 3 liters of water per day, and more on days when dancing. Losing more than 2% of your body weight in water will reduce your ability to think and dance. This is the equivalent of a 120-pound dancer losing 2 1/2 pounds.

Iron, calcium, and vitamin D are common deficiencies in dancers, and extra attention should be paid to making sure dancers get enough.

Good sources of iron include shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters), red or lean meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork), fish, beans, tofu, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and some enriched foods. It’s a good idea to eat these foods along with something that contains vitamin C, since the vitamin C helps improve the absorption of iron, so your body gets more of it. Some examples of this could include having fish with a fruit sauce, dark chocolate with raspberries, or tomatoes with broccoli.

Good sources of calcium include dairy, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and some fortified foods. For vegan or lactose-intolerant dancers who need to obtain calcium in foods besides dairy, a calcium supplement might be necessary, but talking to a doctor first is a good idea.

Good sources of vitamin D include spending time outside in the sun (with adequate sunscreen), fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods.

Dancers may get sore muscles often, and some foods can help! Bananas, tart cherry juice, cottage cheese, turmeric, salmon, and eggs can all help promote recovery, decrease soreness, and increase muscle building after exercise.

Good overall nutrition, and not just calorie intake, is essential for maximizing performance, recovering from training and performing, preventing or healing from injuries, and optimizing a healthy body composition. Food is fuel –eat what you need to be satisfied.

We each are individuals, and we have different nutrition needs.

Our genetics, lifestyles, dietary choices, ages, and many other things are different, and these mean that what foods we need might differ from one person to the next.

It’s important to listen to your body and what it is telling you. This can be easier for dancers than non-dancers, since dancers are taught from early on a lot of body awareness. Your body is often right about what it needs at any particular time and listening to it can be very helpful.

Good nutrition is important. Everyone knows this is true – but do we all know what good nutrition is? More importantly, does everyone know that what is good for one body isn’t always as good for another? One size does not fit all when it comes to dietary guidelines, because we are all different in our metabolism.

At the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis, we’re developing the science of Precision Nutrition by learning how our genes, environment and microbiome affect an individual’s requirements for and responses to nutrients. As the leader in this research, we seek to help people in our community understand the science we conduct and why it’s so important to each one of us.

We invite you to join us in our research to discover precision nutrition for every body. For more information, contact Suzanne Dane, director of community outreach and development, at suzanne_dane@unc.edu or (704) 250-5008.

Protein-Boosted Greek Yogurt

•   1 cup Greek yogurt               •    ½ cup mixed berries (your choice)
•   1 scoop protein powder      •    1 tbsp honey

  1. In a small bowl, mix Greek yogurt and protein powder together.
  2. Top with mixed berries and drizzle with honey to top.

No-Bake Energy Bites

•    1 cup Rolled Oats                                           •    ½ cup Ground Flax Seed
•    ½ cup Crunchy Peanut Butter                      •    1/3 cup Honey
•    ½ cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip     •    1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Form into balls using your hands. Arrange energy bites on a baking sheet. Freeze until set, about 1 hour.
Source: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/239969/no-bake-energy-bites/

5-Minute Healthy Tuna Salad Recipe

•    1 can tuna in water                  •    Juice from 2 lemon wedges
•    2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt       •    Salt and pepper to taste
•    1 tbsp chives, finely diced       •    For serving: crackers or toast, carrots, sliced cucumber

Place all ingredients into a small bowl and mix. Enjoy with crackers, toast, veggies, or as a lettuce wrap!  Will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Source: https://fitfoodiefinds.com/sea-possibilities-challenge-5-minute-healthy-tuna-salad/

Turkey Fajita Egg Cups

•    ½ lb. ground turkey     •    1 large green pepper, finely diced
•    ½ tbsp olive oil             •    1 large red pepper, finely diced
•    1 tbsp chili power        •    ½ medium onion, finely diced
•    1/8 tsp paprika             •    8 large eggs
•    ½ tsp garlic powder     •    ¼ cup milk (any kind)
•    1 tsp ground cumin     •    1/3 cup cheddar cheese
•    1/8 tsp salt                    •    Option: ¼ cup fresh cilantro

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a 12-cup, nonstick muffin tin with cooking spray
  2. Add ½ tbsp of olive oil to a nonstick skillet and heat over medium/high heat. Add ground turkey and spices and sauté until turkey is fully cooked.
  3. Transfer browned meat into muffin cups. Then prep vegetables by finely dicing green pepper, red pepper, and onion. Evenly spread out among muffin cups.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Mix in spices and whisk. Pour egg mixture evenly on top of veggies to fill each muffin cup about ¾ of the way. Use a fork or knife to mix in order to make sure the veggies are evenly distributed.
  5. Season the top of each egg cup with salt and pepper, to taste, and then sprinkle on cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 18-22 minutes.
    Source: https://fitfoodiefinds.com/turkey-fajita-egg-cup-recipe/

Lentil Soup

•    ½ large onion, diced            •    ¼ cup chopped carrots
•    ½ tbsp oil                               •    ¼ cup uncooked pearl barley or rice
•    ¼ cup chopped celery         •    1 tsp salt
•    14 oz chopped tomatoes    •    ½ tsp dried rosemary
•    14 oz vegetable broth         •    Salt/Pepper to taste
•    1 ½ cups cooked or canned lentils

  1. Combine onion, celery, tomatoes, and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Remove from heat, pulverize.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, lower to a simmer, and cover. Simmer 25 minutes or until carrots and barley are tender.
  4. Taste, and add additional seasonings as desired.
    Source: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2019/01/10/lentil-soup-recipe-best/

Sweet Potato Hummus

•   1 ½ cups garbanzo beans (chickpeas), cooked     •   1/8 tsp sea salt
•   ½ cup sweet potato puree                                        •   1/8 tsp paprika
•   1 tbsp tahini                                                                •   ½ tsp garlic powder
•   2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)                          •   2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
•   2 tbsp sriracha                                                            •   2 tbsp fresh goat cheese (topping)

  1. Place garbanzo beans, sweet potato puree, tahini, EVOO, and sriracha in a high-speed food processor and process for about a minute, or until everything is smooth. You may need to stop a few times to scrape the side with a spatula. If mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon or two more of EVOO.
  2. Next, add in spices and blend one more time to mix everything together.
  3. Top with goat cheese and serve with fresh veggies and rice crackers.
    Source: https://fitfoodiefinds.com/sweet-potato-hummus/

Oven-Baked Eggs

•   Large eggs (as many as you’d like to make)           •   Salt and pepper, to taste
•   Nonstick cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray a nonstick muffin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Crack eggs into the tin. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Bake eggs at 350 F for 14-18 minutes or until the yolks have reached the desired texture.

Simple Snack Ideas:
High-fiber crackers with cheese or almond butter, avocado toast, hard boiled eggs (for an easy option, see our baked eggs recipe above!)

Protein and Veggie Rolls

•   Thin-sliced deli meat of your choice     •   Avocado (sliced)
•   Cheese of your choice                             •    Cucumber (sliced)

Take a slice of your deli meat and lay flat. Place a piece of cheese in the center. Add a slice of avocado and a slice of cucumber, then roll up to create an on-the-go protein boost.
Source: https://www.danceadvantage.net/healthy-snacks/

Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream

   4 cups frozen sliced bananas                      •    ¼ cup peanut butter
   ½ to ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk      •   1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Place frozen banana slices, peanut butter, and ½ cup almond milk into a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend on high until a smooth consistency has formed. If mixture is too thick, add a little bit more almond milk.
  2. Add in mini chocolate chips and pulse to combine.
  3. Option to eat immediately for a “soft-serve-like” consistency or to transfer into a parchment lined pan to freeze for a more “ice-cream-like” consistency. Freeze for about 2 hours. If you freeze for longer, it will become solid and hard to scoop, so you will need to thaw!
  4. Serve with more chocolate chips and a drizzle of peanut butter.
    Source: https://fitfoodiefinds.com/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-banana-soft-serve/

Posted: January 22, 2020