top of page

Nutrition Bulletin for Dancers and Body Composition

Time to introduce, for the second time, one of Science in Dance's contributing Coaches and Authors... Chris Taggart. Chris has featured a few times as a Strength and Nutrition Coach and is highly regarded by the Dancers he has come in contact with.

KS Dance

On a light note, Chris's enthusiasm and charisma is hard to match. His approach to coaching and care is completely centred around the Dancers and this is a key ingredient for making difference in the Dance World. Science in Dance is thrilled to have him on the platform.

Chris has some information and guidance regarding Protein and why it is necessary.

Protein as a Recovery Strategy

Consuming a source of protein after intensive exercise is essential to maximise muscle protein synthesis and net protein balance.

First, I want to dispel a few myths surrounding protein and the diet you may have come across:

  1. Renal problems – You may hear that too much protein in the diet has an adverse effect on the renal system and damages the kidneys. This is very overstated, and studies have shown there are no issues with diets less than 2g/kg of bodyweight per day.

  2. Women don’t need as much protein as men – This is true, however, a meta-analysis found that protein requirement in women is only about 10% lower than that of men.

  3. I need supplements to hit my protein requirements – If you are hitting your caloric needs through you diet, you will likely be consuming enough protein. However, if your diet is not very balanced, you may not be consuming a wide range of amino acids. Supplements have shown to rectify this; however, they must remain that. A supplementation to your diet.

Types of Protein


The main component of milk protein. Comes in various forms of powders. Main forms are whey powder and whey protein isolate. Isolate is a highly processed form that has substantially removed lactose and fat and therefore more acceptable for people with lactose intolerance. Most research is done on whey protein supplements and performance, so is very reliable supplement.


The other main component of milk protein. Forms a gel or clot in the stomach. This provides efficient nutrient supply; providing slow sustained release of amino acids into the blood stream for several hours. Also enhances nitrogen utilization and retention in the body (the main component of amino acids).


High quality with a PDCAAS score of 1.0 despite being a plant source. This basically means 100% of the amino acids available are digested. High antioxidants, specifically iso-flavones. These compounds have been shown to be preventative in muscle soreness. There is another common myth that soy products increase oestrogen levels; however, there is no conclusive evidence for this. Oestrogen, like testosterone is an anabolic hormone, so would not be detrimental to strength anyway if this is increased.

Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)

May have more benefit than intact protein. 8-10g of EAA may be optimal for young adults. Post exercise is preferred as muscle is easily stimulated in a lower dose and is therefore more calorically efficient i.e. there’s less risk of putting on weight for the same effect.

Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAAs)

Leucine is the most potent stimulator of cell signalling and is vital for protein synthesis. Studies have shown that a minimum of 45mg/kg body weight are best to optimise rates of whole body protein synthesis. BCAAs (3:1:1 ration of leucine: isoleucine: valine) before or during exercise may prevent net rate of protein degradation, improve mental and physical performance, and have a sparing effect on glycogen degradation and depletion of glycogen stores.

Protein intake

These recommended protein intakes can generally be met through diet alone, without the use of protein or amino acid supplements. Energy intake sufficient to maintain body weight is necessary for optimal protein use and performance.

Practical example

Casey is a dancer who weighs 55kg

55kg x 1.2-1.4g / kg = 66-77g protein per day, -10% because she is a female = 60-70g protein per day

Casey can divide her protein needs into 15g portions that can be spread over the day:

E.g. 60/15= 4 portions ; 70/15 = 4.5portions

Casey needs 4 - 4.5 portions spread over the day

15g Portions

• Red meat

50g lean cooked meat

75g lean cooked mince

1 thick slice ham

1 large sausage

2-3 slices roast beef/ pastrami

• Poultry / eggs

60g cooked skinned chicken / turkey

2 large eggs

• Fish

1 small baked fillet 50 g tuna / salmon

7 oysters

½ cup mussels

• Milk + Dairy

400ml milk

300ml yoghurt

60g hard cheese (3 thick slices)

100g cottage cheese

• Nuts + Seeds

½ cup almonds / cashews

3 teaspoon pumpkin seeds

8 teaspoon sunflower seeds

• Breads + Cereals

6 slices whole-wheat bread

3 cups cooked pasta / rice

1 cup muesli

• Beans + legumes

¾ cup lentils

1 cup kidney beans

1 cup chickpeas

¾ cup lentils


· Ingestion of free amino acids and protein alone or in combination with carbohydrate before resistance exercise can maximally stimulate protein synthesis.

· Studies, so far, have suggested that a protein intake of 15g after exercise and at regular intervals thereafter would be best (every 2-3h).

· There are many different types of protein, but whey protein seems to be a very effective protein source, which has been shown to be more effective than soy protein, which in turn has been shown to be more effective than casein.

· Ingesting carbohydrates alone or in combination with protein during resistance exercise increases muscle glycogen, offsets muscle damage, and facilitates greater training adaptations after either acute or prolonged periods of supplementation with resistance training.

· Post-exercise ingestion of amino acids, primarily essential amino acids, has been shown to stimulate robust increases in muscle protein synthesis.

· During consistent, prolonged resistance training, post-exercise consumption of carbohydrate and protein supplements have been shown to stimulate improvements in strength and body composition.

Protein Bar Recipe

·1 kg skim milk powder·7 tablespoons sugar·7 tablespoons flavour (Milo / Ovaltine) ·Mix together and add water to suit your taste ·You can also mix in some fruit rather than adding flavour.

Nutrition analysis per 100g: Protein 27g Carbohydrate 62g Fat 2g Calcium 980mg Kcal 368


Rand et al (2003) Meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies for estimating protein requirements in healthy adults, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 77, Issue 1, 1 January Pages 109–127,

Ferrando et al. (2010) Essential Amino Acids for Muscle Protein Accretion. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins), v. 32, n. 1, p. 87-92.

Phillips, S.M. (2014) A Brief Review of Critical Processes in Exercise-Induced Muscular Hypertrophy. Sports Medicine. 44 (Suppl 1):S71– S77.

Moore et al. (2014) Beyond muscle hypertrophy: why dietary protein is important for endurance athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 39(9):987-97

Journal International Society Sports Nutr. 2008 Oct 3;5:17


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page