Protein: The Foundation Of StrengthPublished December 7, 2017 by Eva Tanenbaum in All Things Dance, Teachers Tip, Wishful Thinking
Are You Getting Enough Protein?
The most essential nutrients for dancers come from whole foods. Whole foods aren’t packaged, have not been processed, and have very few artificial ingredients. Most of these foods can be found while shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and can be categorized as: healthy fats, whole grains, produce, and protein. All are important for dancers to consume on a regular basis but the one that is going to create the strongest dancers is protein.
Protein builds a dancer’s body, balances hormones, and keeps you satisfied after a meal. Which leads to healthy choices all day long.
Other benefits include:
- Building muscle
- Increased energy
- Stronger bones
- Healthier body tissues
- Longer and stronger hair and nails
Essentially, like a house has a foundation, protein builds the foundation of every athlete’s body. With all of that muscle-building power, dancers can plan to kick harder, jump higher, and have more power and endurance for demanding routines.
Where can you find the healthiest sources of protein?
Some of the most beneficial and convenient sources of protein come from animals.
- Fish and Seafood
Not a meat eater?
Vegetarians can enjoy the benefits of protein with these foods:
- Peanut Butter
- Green peas
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
What is the right amount of protein?
The appropriate amount of protein varies for every person depending on their body, their goals, and the rest of their diet. I recommend having a protein source in each meal. When creating meals keep portions in mind, which for protein is the size of your palm, or about 3 ounces.
For example, a day of eating may look like the following:
- Breakfast: 2 eggs, toast with peanut butter
- Snack 1: Yogurt with honey and crushed nuts
- Lunch: Deli turkey wrapped in lettuce with mustard and tomato
- Snack 2 : Cheese stick and an apple
- Dinner: Steamed broccoli, rice, and a turkey burger patty
- Dessert: Fruit and almond butter
What about protein shakes and protein bars?
Dancers are always on the run between rehearsals and performances so it’s not always ideal to eat the way outlined above. It is important however, to find healthy and convenient sources of protein for those moments when you’re in a rush.
If you’re going to purchase a protein bar or protein shake, follow these two rules:
- The grams of protein must be 20 or higher.
- The grams of sugar must be less than 10.
Review the back of the package and check the nutrition label to find this information.
Some of my favorite “to go” protein options are:
- Kind bars
- Tuna packets
- Justin’s Almond Butter (sold in individual packets)
- Trail mix
- Beef or turkey jerky
- Cheese sticks
- Hard boiled eggs
- Deli meat
Take some time before your next rehearsal or performance to scan the grocery store for protein options that you can easily put in a cooler. This is going to save time, money, and your health.
Written by contributor Katie Peyton
Katie is a Holistic Health Coach, Personal Trainer and world champion dancer. She has combined her 25 years of dance and her expertise in nutrition and fitness to create conditioning classes and nutrition lectures designed just for dancers. Katie empowers dancers to view themselves as athletes and gives them the tools to increase their strength, endurance, injury prevention and overall performance.