Nutrition for Musical Theatre Students

The majority of the musical theatre students at Trinity Laban are involved in 25-30 hours of practical sessions per week. On top of this, students will be participating in extra rehearsals, supplementary training, theory sessions and written work and spending additional time learning lines and working on several voice techniques. All of this will put their bodies under an amount of stress, meaning their nutritional intake is vital to ensuring they are healthy enough to keep up with a busy schedule! It is important for musical theatre students whom wish to have a long and successful career to treat their bodies as if they were instruments and understanding how to achieve a sustainable, healthy and balanced lifestyle is vital to ensuring the body can perform optimally.

musical theatre pic 3

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Our diets are made up of micronutrients and macronutrients. We need to have all of these nutrients in our diets to help maintain a stable and balanced diet:

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are needed by the body in small amounts and are vital to help the body to function correctly. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals and can be found naturally in fruits and vegetables. The best way to get all the vitamins and minerals you need is to try to make your meal as colourful as possible with your fruits and veg – eat the rainbow!

Macronutrients

Macronutrients make up the majority of the food that what we eat. Macronutrients are fats, carbohydrates and protein.

  • Fats: Healthy fats are needed to fuel the body and assist hormonal balances. You can find healthy fats in nuts, dairy products and certain meats.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are needed for energy and fuel the body. You can find them in starches which are found in foods containing grains, pasta, rice and potatoes.
  • Protein: Protein is needed to help repair and build muscle. You can find it in meat, fish, eggs and quorn. When it comes to meat: the less legs, means more protein i.e. chicken or turkey has more protein than beef.

It is vital to ensure your daily intake of micro and macronutrients is suitable to the activity level of that day. If you are using more calories than you consume your body will experience an energy deficit which can lead to poor performance, illness and injury. The amount of calories an individual should have per day is dependent on height, weight, activity schedule and their gender. It will also change depending on their goals… if the aim is to gain weight or muscle an individual will require a diet that allows a higher intake of calories; in comparison, if the goal is to lower body fat percentage or lose weight less calories will be consumed. In any of these cases the caloric intake will still be based on the individual’s genetics and amount of activity performed.

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As performers who sing, dance and act, illness and injury can hinder a musical theatre student’s development and could potentially lose them a professional contract. It is vital to get enough sleep; muscles repair and process any information whilst we are asleep. It is recommended to get around eight hours sleep per night. When the immune systems begins to shut down, increasing the chances of illness and the body starts to feel run down, sufficient rest, adequate hydration and an increased intake of fruits and vegetables can help boost the immune system due to the consumption of extra vitamins and minerals.

The tables below shows a variety of scenarios and the recommended nutrition information to achieve optimal performance.

table1.1

Performer 1 has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 21, and is considered to be of a healthy stature. Using a calorie calculator (the formula for this can be found at the bottom of this post), it can be suggested that this performer should consume around 2000 calories to maintain this weight and should aim for 2500 calories to gain 0.5kg per week. This performer wished to increase muscle and not fat and so her intake of protein would need to be greater than the intake of fat. As she is quite active, she would also need to have a significant amount of carbohydrate. The general percentage of carbohydrate, protein, and fat for a performer who is aiming to build muscle is 40%, 40%, and 20% respectively.

Remember this differs for each individual so the ratio of each macronutrient may change to suit different bodies.

table2

Performer 2 has a BMI of 24; he is considered to have a healthy weight but is close to being classes as overweight. The calorie calculator suggests that this performer should consume around 2900 calories to remain at the same weight. This performer is very active and so would need a high intake of carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle repair with healthy fats to fuel the body. It is recommended for this performer’s macronutrients to break down as 40% carbohydrates, 35% Protein, 25% fats.

Remember this differs for each individual so the ratio of each macronutrient may change to suit different bodies.

table3

Performer 3 has a BMI of 29 and is considered to be overweight. Using the calorie calculator suggests this performer should be consuming around 1980 calories per day to lose 0.5kg per week. This performer is physically active but is in the low-moderate range and aims to lower their percentage of body fat. The breakdown of their macronutrients would be 30% protein, 50% carbohydrates and 20% fats.

Remember this differs for each individual so the ratio of each macronutrient may change to suit different bodies.

The calorie calculator calculates the Basal Metabolic Rate – the formula for this is:

BMR = 10 * weight(kg) + 6.25 * height(cm) – 5 * age(y) + 5         (man)
BMR = 10 * weight(kg) + 6.25 * height(cm) – 5 * age(y) – 161     (woman)

The breakdown of each of these circumstances are based on the individual’s height, weight, age, gender, activity level and goal. However, we do not know the true intensity of physical activity which may affect the individual’s caloric intake. Each person’s metabolism and body type may also have some affect, therefore it is vital to ensure there is a full understanding of the needs and desires of each individual before implementing a chance in diet. For more information please speak to a registered physician or nutritionist.

References and additional information

http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html?ctype=metric&cage=22&csex=f&cheightfeet=5&cheightinch=10&cpound=160&cheightmeter=168&ckg=82&cactivity=1.55&printit=0&x=87&y=16

http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Healthyweightcalculator.aspx

Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2008). Building muscle: nutrition to maximize bulk and strength adaptations to resistance exercise training. European journal of sport science, 8(2), 67-76.

Dixon, M. (2001). Eating… and dancing-Nutritional advice for dancers from Jasmine Challis. BALLETT INTERNATIONAL-TANZ AKTUELL, (5), 72-73.

Montoye, H. J. (2015). Energy costs of exercise and sport. Nutrition in sport, 53.

Kenney, W. L., Wilmore, J., & Costill, D. (2015). Physiology of Sport and Exercise 6th Edition. Human kinetics.

Jessica Hobson: Graduate Intern, Dance Science

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