When we hear about ‘superfoods,’ there’s been a major focus on kale lately, but is that the best option for dancers and athletes like us?
We connected with Rachel Fine, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition, who broke down some of the best super foods—specifically for dancers. She chose ingredients to keep dancers strong and sharp throughout class, rehearsals, and performances. Rachel even topped it off with some delicious recipes to try at home!
Complex carbohydrates provide a steady source of energy for longer periods of time.
Oats contain a specific type of fiber, beta-glucan, which helps rid the body of unwanted fats and cholesterol. Bonus: Oats are great for heart health!
Chia Seeds are rich in fiber and essential omega-3 fats, promoting healthy digestion, high energy levels, and a feeling of fullness throughout the day. Bonus: These seeds promote bone health – great for preventing stress fractures!
Protein contains essential amino acids, the building blocks for muscle growth.
Greek yogurt is very high in protein – more than twice the amount as regular yogurt – leaving you fuller longer. Bonus: It is a wonderful source of calcium to support healthy bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis!
Eggs (yolk and all!), previously thought to be problematic for health heart, are rich in B12, choline, biotin, and folic acid, keeping you energized. Also abundant in iron & zinc, eggs can help active dancers combat fatigue and anemia.
Quinoa is a great choice for vegan or vegetarian dishes because just like animal proteins, this grain is abundant in the amino acid lysine, making it a complete protein.
Vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants are chock-full of anti-inflammatory components to control the body’s natural response to wear and tear.
Blueberries’ phytonutrient content boosts immunity and improves memory – great for long rehearsals and memorizing choreography.
Flax Seeds are high in fiber, which slows digestion and promotes nutrient absorption, and high in healthy fats, which work to repair the body and reduce inflammation after a long day of rehearsals.
Nuts are a great source of fiber, protein, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants! Bonus: Almonds/Almond butter is especially high in iron, helping to prevent anemia – a chronic disorder that causes fatigue.
Providing your body with the tools needed to refuel, rebuild, and repair!
Toasty Oats: Cook a handful of rolled oats in a dry nonstick skillet over medium-high heat on your stovetop, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown (5-7 minutes). Add to a homemade trail mix (try dark chocolate chips, almonds, & walnuts) for an extra shot of energy between classes.
Oats, Nuts n’ Berries: 1/3 cup rolled oats (cooked with low fat milk), topped with cinnamon, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, and 1/4 cup fresh or frozen berries. Add a dollop of Greek Yogurt for an added boost of protein.
Chia Seeds: Whether ground or whole, these tiny seeds plump in liquid, making them a great addition to oatmeal, dry cereal, and smoothies.
Honeyed Yogurt: Mix 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt with a dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries.
Egg Salad 2.0: Mix 1 hard-boiled egg with 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt, and 1/4 cup chopped onions and celery.
Salmon in 20: Poach, bake, or grill salmon with a homemade rub of onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon juice. In just 10-15 minutes, enjoy with a side of sautéed spinach and 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.
Sweet Quinoa & Kale: Top sautéed kale and sweet potatoes with 1 cup cooked quinoa mixed with 1/4 cup dried raisins for a tasty Meatless Monday. Drizzle honey for an added boost of antioxidants!
Flax Seeds: With a versatile nutty flavor, add ground flaxseeds to anything from oatmeal and smoothies, to salads and even baked chicken. Tip: always use ground flaxseeds, as whole flaxseeds will simply pass through the digestive tract intact and unused.
AB & B Sandwich: Spread natural unsalted almond butter onto whole grain bread. Add sliced bananas for a boost of potassium to prevent cramping.
Rachel Fine, MS, RD, CDN is a New York City-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition. As a dancer and performing artist, Rachel intertwines her passion for ballet and nutrition to deliver the most attainable, yet scientifically sound, information to today’s top dancers. Aside from counseling dancers about nutrition, Rachel continues to train and perform across New York City and Long Island.
Additionally, Rachel is currently a Clinical Adjunct Instructor at New York University and an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND); the AND’s Dietitians Nutrition Support Practice Group; the Medical Nutrition Practice Group; the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition Community Group (SCAN); and the New York State Dietetic Association (NYSDA).