Thank you to one of our followers for this great question about intermittent fasting (IF) and dancers!
My short answer is no.
Research on IF shows potential health benefits for some individuals with some potential weight management benefits, but the majority of these studies have not specified fasting time windows consistently and weight management benefits are no better if not less beneficial for individuals than a balanced, healthy eating lifestyle.
In addition, for active individuals such as dancers, if you restrict eating hours, this can result in inadequate fuel to help promote energy and efficiency with dancers.
It is recommended for teaching or shorter training days that eating approximately every 3 hours (3-5 hours for students or less intensive days) and eating balanced snack with protein/carb choices and light feeling meals (eg chicken, rice and veggie/ wraps, etc) can help maintain energy throughout the day.
At competitions, I recommend eating more snacks throughout the competition day (balanced every 2 hours) and then including meals before and after dancing. As tolerated.
If, as a dancer you don’t feel comfortable eating late, try to eat either a snack at the end of the day or a meal 2-3 hours before going to bed which should help limit feeling uncomfortable when waking up in the morning.
Packing meals and snacks and planning breaks in your dancing day (even 10-15 minutes) that allow you to fuel are crucial to keep you healthy and minimize burn out.
*Bonus note not in the video- a downside to intermittent fasting is that it can lead to binge eating in a short period of time and can result in more health and weight management concerns so must moderated.*
While diets come to fruition because of benefits some individuals achieve, as a general recommendation, I do not recommend intermittent fasting for dancers.
Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have or if you would like to schedule a session to learn more!!
All the best,
Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN, LD
A Taste of Health
“The Dancesport Dietitian”