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The Importance of Nutrition in Dance

Fueling A Dancer

Dancers are very physical and it’s crucial that they have the proper nutrition to perform at their best. When thinking about food, try thinking of it as fuel for the body. What can you put in your body that is going to optimize your performance? What kind of fuel does a dancer’s body need?

At Nan’s School of Dance of Raleigh, we understand the importance of nutrition, so we put together a guide to help our dancers understand the proper fuel that their dancing body needs!


Dancers need calories! As we have already mentioned, dancing is a very physical activity. Dancers exert a lot of energy during their practices, rehearsals, and performances. A common mistake that dancers can make is not ingesting enough food to meet their energy demands. Dancers need the right amount of calories to refuel and recharge. An easy way to estimate how many calories a professional dancer requires during heavy training:

  • Females: 45–50 calories per kilogram of body weight
  • Males: 50–55 calories per kilogram of body weight.


Dancers need carbohydrates. In fact, they should be a dancer’s best friend! Carbohydrates are important because they break down into glucose which quickly fuels muscles. Of all food energy sources, carbohydrates are the fastest deliverer of energy.

Approximately 55% to 60% of a dancer’s diet should be carbs. Additionally, it should be rich in whole grains and complex carbohydrates. On top of meals, a dancer should also ingest moderate amounts of carbs before, during, and after class or performances to maintain good energy levels.


Fats are also important for dancers. Muscles and adipose (fat) tissue store fats called triglycerides. During exercise, triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids and produce energy for muscles to contract. It is estimated that people need 1.2 grams of fat per kilogram of body weight each day. Examples of healthy fats to include are nuts, nut butters, canola oil, olive oil, and avocado.

Fats help:

  • Provide structure for cell membranes
  • Form an insulating layer around nerves
  • Provide the base for many hormones
  • Facilitate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Fuel muscles


Protein is extremely important for young dancers! With constant use of muscles during competition and practices, protein is needed for building and repairing muscle tissue. The estimated need for protein is 1.4 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight each day. Healthy sources of protein include animal meats like chicken, fish, turkey, lean pork, or beef. Vegetarian sources of protein include beans, quinoa, rice, and tofu.


Dancers frequently forget about obtaining key micronutrients, otherwise known as vitamins and minerals.


  • B Vitamins: are a part of energy production. They are used in the body to make energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They are also helpful for making red blood cells.
  • Vitamins A, C, and E: play a role in cleaning up damaged muscles that are overstressed and overused.
  • Vitamins D and K: play a role in healthy bone metabolism.


  • Calcium: is a mineral used for bone growth. Did you know the most important years of bone development are the first 30 years of life? This also happens to be the prime years for dancing. Low bone density can result in an increased chance of bone stress fractures.
  • Iron: is also a highly important mineral for dancers, since iron is what our bodies use to carry oxygen in our blood via red blood cells. Of course, oxygen is what we use to help our bodies produce energy.

Want to Read More About Dance?

Take a look at some of our other articles about dance.

So why Nan’s school of dance?

At Nan’s School of Dance, our goal is to provide top-quality instruction at a competitive price. We encourage our students to reach technical proficiency in their favorite dance form and build self-discipline, poise, and self-esteem. We offer instruction in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Acro, and Pre-Dance, at all levels.

We love having new members in our dance classes and will help get your child acclimated to our dance school to make them feel right at home. When your child attends Nan’s School of Dance, they will become a part of our dance family and share in our love for dance!

Don’t forget to register!

From ballet to hip hop, we offer dance classes for ALL ages and skill levels in a variety of styles. We place students in classes that will challenge them while offering a fun atmosphere for learning and growth. We also offer Mommy & Me classes, (18 months – 2.5 years). Register online or give us a call at 919-803-6044 to hold your spot!

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