Ask a Dance Dietitian: Caffeine for Dancers

September 26, 2023

With a new company contract underway, I’ve found myself a bit too reliant on caffeine to get me through. Is there a maximum caffeine limit for dancers? —Abby

Thanks for this great question! Caffeine is a tricky topic, especially considering the realities of a hectic schedule. In my work with dancers, I find it common for them to become overly reliant on caffeinated drinks to push through a strenuous day. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of caffeine can help you make informed decisions about your intake.

Caffeine is a stimulant that enhances alertness and temporarily increases energy levels. In fact, caffeine helps you save energy, which reduces your perceived level of effort and allows you to work harder for longer. This effect can be helpful for dancers during long hours of rehearsals and performances, but excessive consumption can lead to adverse effects like jitteriness and anxiousness. Also, if your coffee habit is replacing opportunities to get in a balanced meal, snack, or hydrating drink, then you’ll risk missing the calories, nutrients, and hydration you need to support performance.

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While moderate amounts of caffeine are generally considered safe, there are currently no guidelines set specifically for dancers. The recommended caffeine intake for teens is about 100 milligrams per day, and no more than one standard cup (8 fluid ounces) of coffee per day. You’ll also want to be mindful about other sources of caffeine in your diet, like teas, energy drinks, and even dark chocolate, as those amounts can add up. Drinking a moderate amount of caffeinated beverages won’t dehydrate you, but if you’re relying too heavily on these drinks without getting in other hydrating beverages, like water and milk, then you may be overdoing it.

For dancers, I recommend an individualized approach based on your body’s unique response to caffeine. If you’re experiencing jitters beyond normal stage nerves or struggling to get a good night of sleep, then reconsider the amount of caffeine in your diet.

Have a question? Send it to registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Fine at [email protected]. She’ll be answering questions on Pointe+ each month. Ask a Dance Dietitian responses are for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for individual medical or mental health advice.