Sample Ballerina Diet

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
dancer

If you're an aspiring ballerina (or simply want to eat like one), knowing what ballerinas eat in a day comes in handy. Grueling workout sessions mean elite ballerinas probably eat more than you think. Whether you're a professional dancer or just getting started, having sample ballerina menus will get you headed in the right direction.

Ballerina Calorie Needs

Many elite ballerinas don't worry about counting calories; rather, they'll listen to their bodies to determine what and how much to eat. As a general rule, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 say active women (women who work out the equivalent of walking more than three miles daily) need 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, but elite athletes often require more than this due to demands of intense physical training. Moderately active adult women often require 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day to maintain their weight.

What Ballerinas Eat

To ensure the calories they take in are loaded with essential nutrients, many ballerinas (especially professional dancers) eat fairly cleanly. Some follow vegetarian or vegan diets. Many avoid red meat, processed meat, fried foods, chips, and other junk food. Many professional ballerinas drink coffee in the morning or throughout the day to boost energy and eat three healthy meals plus two to three energizing snacks in between. Typical ballerina diets consist of:

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Low-fat dairy foods like Greek yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese
  • Lean protein foods such as eggs, grilled chicken, salmon and shrimp
  • Healthy fats (avocadoes and oils)

1,800-Calorie Menu (Casual Ballerinas)

A casual ballerina may only dance a few times per week and is probably classified as moderately active.

Breakfast: A medium-sized oat bran muffin, plus 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of coffee

Snack: 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 ounce of cashews

Lunch: 1 medium-sized banana with 2 ounces of turkey, 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and sliced tomatoes on a small whole-grain tortilla

Snack: 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 1 cup of carrot slices

Dinner: 2 ounces of grilled white fish, 1 cup of cooked asparagus, and 3/4 cup of whole-grain pasta with 1 tablespoon of olive oil

2,000-Calorie Menu (Moderately Active Ballerinas)

Moderately active ballerinas may work out 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week, often require about 2,000 calories per day. A sample menu at this calorie allotment includes:

Breakfast: A small whole-grain bagel with 2 tablespoons of plain cream cheese and 1 cup of coffee

Snack: 1/4 cup of pineapple, 1 cup of grapes, and 1 ounce of macadamia nuts

Lunch: 2 cups spinach greens with 1/4 cup of goat cheese, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 1/2 ounce of pecans, 1/4th of an avocado, 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, and 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing

Snack: 1 cup of blueberries with 1 1/2 cups of soy milk

Dinner: 3 ounces of grilled salmon, 1 cup cooked broccoli, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 cup of roasted onions, and 1 cup cooked quinoa

Snack: 1 medium-sized peanut butter cookie

Sample 2,200-Calorie Menu (Moderately Active to Active Ballerinas)

The following sample ballerina menu contains about 2,200 calories, wich might encompass ballerinas who dance about 60 minutes daily.

Hummus and Chips

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 ounce of almonds, and 1/2 cup of blueberries with 1 cup of coffee

Snack: 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 banana

Lunch: 2 cups of leafy greens topped with 1 ounce of pistachios, 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing, 1/2 cup of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of cucumbers, 1/2 avocado, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast, and 1/2 cup of cooked whole-grain pasta

Snack: 1 cup of cottage cheese with 1 kiwi fruit

Dinner: 3 ounces of grilled salmon, 1 cup of cooked quinoa, and 1 cup of asparagus

Snack: 16 wheat thin crackers with 2 tablespoons of hummus

2,400-Calorie Menu (Serious Ballerinas)

Follow a 2,400-calorie meal plan if you're serious about becoming a ballerina and train at least 60 minutes (often more) most days of the week:

Breakfast: 1 whole-grain English muffin with 1/4-cup of goat cheese, 1/2 cup of spinach, two scrambled eggs, a medium-sized banana, and black coffee (with 1 tablespoon of low-fat milk)

Snack: 1 Power bar, 1 cup of melon, and 1 cup Greek yogurt

Lunch: Black bean burger on a whole-grain bun plus 1 cup of celery sticks with 1 tablespoon ranch dressing

Snack: 14 whole grain crackers with 2 tablespoons of hummus

Dinner: 3 ounces of shrimp, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1 cup of green beans with 1 cup of greens, 1/2 cup of artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup of feta cheese, 1/4 cup of olives, 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing

Snack: One dark chocolate bar

2,600-Calorie Menu (Elite Ballerinas)

Follow this meal plan if you're training several hours per day as a ballerina. You may require additional calories, depending on your size and specific training regimen.

Breakfast: 1 cup of Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 cup of granola, 2 teaspoons of honey, and 1 cup of raspberries

Snack: 1 cup of sliced kiwi fruit, 1 medium-sized energy bar, and 2 cups of an almond milk matcha tea latte

Lunch: 2 cups of leafy greens, 1 cup of raw veggies, 1 ounce of fresh mozzarella, 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing, 1 cup of cooked quinoa, and 3 ounces of grilled tofu

Snack: 1 ounce of almonds with 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese

Dinner: 3 scrambled eggs with two slices of whole grain toast, 1 slice of Swiss cheese, and 1 cup of sauteed mushrooms with 1 tablespoon olive oil

Snack: 2 cups of plain kefir with cinnamon and stevia to taste

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Super Tracker

Eating Like a Ballerina

Eating like a ballerina can be beneficial for your health as most professional dancers eat a variety of healthy foods. Just be sure you're getting plenty of calories to offset potential vigorous training regimens and use sample ballerina menus as a guide to create your own nutritious meal plans (based on individualized calorie needs and food preferences).

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Sample Ballerina Diet