Library Dissertation Showcase

Powered by plants: can a plant-based diet optimise the performance capabilities of a contemporary dancer?

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

With dance being an increasingly competitive industry, individuals pursuing a career in this field are often in search of methods to aid the progression of their training and performance ability. In review of pre-existing literature, this thesis sets out to identify whether a plant-based diet may be optimal for contemporary dancers in terms of technical progression and career longevity. As a result, the focus of this research is on nutritional methodology, taking an interdisciplinary approach by analysing and interpreting data published in the fields of sports, exercise, and dance science.

Although the fields of dance and sport hold comparable similarities, difficulties arise in comparing data due to the divergent and intermittent nature of dance in contrast to other athletic activities. Despite nutrition contributing vastly to an individual’s ability to dance, this knowledge is often lesser accredited, with most articles prioritising supplementary training and injury rehabilitation (American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2019; Kenny et al., 2018; Mehta and Choi, 2017; Russel, 2013). Previous studies predominantly examine injury in relation to career inhibition, which most often appears to be non-genre specific or tailored to ballet dancers, which poses further complications in reviewing and analysing data (Koutedakis and Jamurtas, 2004; Sousa et al., 2013).

Questions arise as to what the nutritional needs of contemporary dancers are, and how a dancer may meet these requirements sufficiently when consuming a plant-based diet. Recent studies support the consumption of vegan diets over omnivorous diets regarding optimal performance and career longevity, by decreasing the risk of developing chronic disease which may inhibit performance ability (Greger, 2018; The Game Changers, 2018). Yet major discrepancies amongst researchers still arise, with no clear distinctions between changes in dietary lifestyle (omnivorous to vegan) and increased performance abilities. However, there appears to be a positive correlation in research results examining the effects of switching from processed products to whole foods, on the body – with whole foods mostly being of plant origin (Greger, 2018).

In addition to discussing the benefits of specific plant-based products, the heightened risk of deficiency is also addressed, advising dancers on how to combat the prevalent issue of negative energy imbalances and poor nutrition within the dance industry. Consequently, this leads a line of inquiry into the potential injuries dancers are most vulnerable to, and how, in proper construction, the vegan diet may decrease these risks and reduce periods in which a dancer may have to withdraw from dance activities. Therefore, this study presents strong reason to believe that a plant-based diet may hold great benefits for contemporary dancers in search of enhancing their performance ability.

PLEASE NOTE: You must be a member of the University of Lincoln to be able to view this dissertation. Please log in here.