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Ballerinas are required to be slim and muscular, which makes them effective performers. While the potential for eating disorders is high among ballerinas, Linda H. Hamilton, author of "The Dancer's Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition" suggests weight control practices that help ballerinas stay at a healthy weight without constant dieting.
Ballet dancing burns many calories, particularly for professional dancers who practice or perform all day. Restrictive dieting may not give you enough calories to maintain your demanding schedule. The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science recommends getting 45 to 55 calories per 2.2 pounds of body weight. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you need about 2,659 to 3,249 calories per day. This might not sound conducive to weight loss, but makes up for the large number of calories you burn doing ballet. If you need to trim down a little bit, cut 500 calories per day for a loss of 1 pound per week. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new diet program.
It is important to get adequate amounts of nutrients to support your ballet training. This is still possible if you are trying to lose weight, but takes careful planning. Safety and Health in Arts Production and Entertainment suggests combining protein and carbohydrates at each meal. This supports energy levels and builds lean muscle, both of which aid in weight loss. Whole-grain bread with peanut butter, oatmeal with nuts, chicken breast with brown rice, salmon with whole-wheat noodles and whole-grain cereal with milk are options that contain carbohydrates and protein, but aren't too high in fat and calories.
Exercise is a vital part of losing weight. However, as a ballerina, you already burn hundreds of calories each day. A 130-pound ballerina burns 350 calories per hour during practice and performances. A professional ballerina may burn several thousand calories each day. It isn't always safe to exercise more than this. Talk to your doctor about whether adding some additional exercise to your day is appropriate for weight loss.
When and how you eat is just as important for losing weight as is what you eat. Safety and Health in Arts Production and Entertainment recommends eating small meals throughout the day and making sure you eat every meal. This gives you consistent energy for your ballet practice and prevents hunger, which can lead to overeating. Don't avoid fat in your diet. Small amounts are necessary for energy and health. Choose healthy sources, such as nuts, avocados and olive oil. Eat a meal within 40 minutes of finishing ballet for the day. This promotes recovery and reduces muscle soreness.