Nourish Your Body for Performance

"Eating every three hours or so can reduce energy slumps and food preoccupation."

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Fumi Somehara is surrounded by fruit and vegetables

What do you wish all performers knew?

Everyday Performance Nutrition

Eat regularly and adequately throughout the day​

This can help improve digestion, gut function, and metabolism, and reduce the risk of extreme types of eating (restriction / binge-eating). Eating every three hours or so can reduce energy slumps and food preoccupation. Eat from all food groups including grains, animal/plant proteins, dairy, fruits and vegetables to minimise nutritional deficiencies.

Hydrate well​

Sip water and a variety of fluids throughout the day, instead of gulping down in one go. Staying hydrated will help improve your performance, minimise fatigue, and prevent cramps. Your thirst and urine colour can be a helpful indicator of your hydration status: if urine colour is dark, it’s most likely that you need more fluids (note: some vitamin supplements can change your urine colour and hence make this inaccurate).

Build strong bones

First, you need to be eating enough for your bones to become strong. On top of that, having three servings of dairy a day (e.g. yoghurt, milk, cheese) can build and maintain strong bones. If you are allergic to dairy, then other alternatives such as soy and soy products, almonds, and fish with edible bones are good sources of calcium too.

And most importantly, don’t diet.

Some foods won’t have much nutritional value, but if they give you social, emotional, or cultural nourishment, there is no reason to ban or demonise those foods. When you have them, enjoy them, be intuitive and mindful, and then move on.

Nutrition on Performance Day


Eat breakfast – whether it’s a matinee or an evening performance, start your day with adequate breakfast.


Keep single serve snacks in your bag for easy refuelling throughout the day


Go for easily digested foodsand meals before performance (see examples below)


Have an adequate meal for recovery after the performance. (E.g. pasta; rice with stir-fried chicken and veg; sandwiches; hearty loaded soup with toast or noodles)

Helpful Snacks on Performance Day

Crumpets with butter and jam
Pork steam buns sit in a bamboo steamer
A selection of sushi: Nigiri, maki rolls with tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab and avocado.
Red apples
A mango lassi in a take away container with a straw sits on a bench.
Yogurt with berries and mint on top
two muesli bars
A grilled cheese sandwich

What are some myths about diet we can bust?

The reason why many diets end up with a rebound weight gain is because of the proper functioning of the body – If the body is malnourished, it will reduce metabolism and the functions of its organs and systems, so when you finally eat adequately it will renourish the weight it had lost (this is also known is weight cycling). Not-dieting is the best way to keep your most optimally performing self.

Carbohydrates are essential fuel for the body, just like fats and proteins. In fact, injury rates go us as carbohydrate intake goes down for dancers and aesthetic athletes.

Cell repair, growth, and development happens during your sleep. If you don’t have enough fuel in your body by eating an adequate meal post-performance or training in the evening, your body won’t be able to recover efficiently overnight. Try and go for easily digested foods. Very high-fibre or high-fat foods can take much longer time to digest hence negatively impact your quality of sleep.

There is no evidence to support that weight loss reduces joint injuries in dancers. In fact, the evidence shows that weight loss leads to greater overall injuries in dancers, and that developing appropriate muscles (or muscle groups) around the joint areas are the most helpful injury-prevention and management.

Fasted exercise has not been shown to translate to body fat changes in the long term. When you exercise in a fasted state, your body may burn a higher percentage of fat. But because your body is low in fuel, you can only exercise at a lower intensity. This means that your performance quality does not necessarily improve. There is much better evidence showing that exercising in an adequately fuelled state optimises muscle gains, endurance, and performance quality.

Body image as a performer

How do we navigate the idea of how we look isn’t who we are?

Body image is not just about how you look and what you think of how you look; it’s a complex mix of the experiences you have had in the body that you own. That includes racism, colourism, classism, sexism, sizeism, trauma… the list goes on.

How do we have a good relationship with body image when we are judged on our appearance?

Nourish your body with a regular and abundant supply of foods

Understand that your body is always doing its best to protect you

Dress for the body that you have now right in this moment, instead of choosing clothes ‘for when I lose weight’.

Curate your social media so that you can see diverse bodies. Here are some suggested Instagram accounts to get you started: