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the essential role of fats in performance nutrition

Fat - a word that often raises eyebrows and concerns when it comes to nutrition. But let’s set the record straight: eating fat does not make you fat! In fact, fats play a crucial role in our daily diet. Beyond their presence on our plates, it's the fatty acids within fats that provide structure to our cells, aid in the absorption of micronutrients, support inflammation reduction, and contribute to overall health. For dancers and performance athletes, incorporating fats from a variety of sources is vital for optimal performance and well-being. In this blog post, we'll dive into the why, how, and when of fats, debunking myths and shedding light on their importance in your dance nutrition.

Why Fats Matter:

While carbohydrates take the spotlight as the primary energy source, fats are an additional source of energy for your body. Surprisingly, many dancers and fitness enthusiasts tend towards low fat intake. However, fat is crucial to regulate inflammation, facilitate nutrient absorption and utilization, and provide energy on lighter activity days. Insufficient fat consumption can result in increased hunger, unsatisfying meals, brittle nails, dry skin, and slow wound healing. It’s important to find a balance of fat for yourself and scheduling a strategy session with me could be your first step!

How to Include Fats:

Incorporating fats into your diet may seem intimidating, but it's easier than you think. I recommend thinking about the balance of both saturated and unsaturated fats. You read that correctly: saturated AND unsaturated fats. Afterall, we need this balance for homeostasis. Thinking about it this way, including animal options like beef, pork, and fish as well as plant options like olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts is a great starting place. Don't shy away from full-fat dairy products either, as they can provide valuable nutrients and satiety. By including a variety of fat sources, you ensure that you're reaping the benefits of adequate fat content in your daily diet.

The Right Amount:

Determining the ideal amount of fat for dancers and performance athletes can vary based on individual needs and metabolic composition. It's essential to personalize your fat intake to match your energy requirements. Remember, balance is key, and incorporating a rainbow of foods from both animal and plant sources will help you achieve a well-rounded fat intake.

When to Include Fats:

To maximize the benefits of fats, distribute their consumption throughout your day in meals and snacks. For snacks, pairing a fat-rich food with a carbohydrate-rich option can slow down the digestion of simple carbohydrates, providing sustained energy for your dance classes and rehearsals. Snack ideas might look like avocado toast, full-fat yogurt with berries, or cheese with crackers. Experiment with timing to find what works best for your body, keeping in mind that eating a combo snack at least 30 minutes before dancing can help avoid discomfort.

Fats play a crucial role in your performance nutrition. They provide energy, aid in nutrient absorption, regulate inflammation, and contribute to overall health. Remember that fats are not something to be feared but embraced in a balanced and mindful way. By incorporating a variety of fats from different sources into your diet, you support your body's needs and optimize your performance as a dancer. Stay tuned for the next blog post where we'll explore the power of protein in your dance nutrition journey.

Schedule your free strategy session today to further personalize your performance nutrition!

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I'm a Nutrition Educator & Wellness Coach based in and serving Washington, DC and the DMV region. My lifestyle-focused method has successfully helped clients achieve personal results and enhance athletic ability, eMpowering performance in class, rehearsals, and on-stage. As professional dancer myself, I have gained nutritional balance and improved my own relationship with food through many years of practice and a Masters of Science in Nutrition from University of Bridgeport. I bring this depth of personal and academic experience to a variety of clients, particularly performance athletes and fitness enthusiasts. In my spare time, I teach yoga and manage Ballet Embody, a professional contemporary ballet company.
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