Ballerina Skylar Brandt Basically Snacks All Day And I'm Here For It

When you hear the word “ballerina,” you don’t typically think “big eater.” (I watched Black Swan!)

But for Skylar Brandt, soloist at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City, nourishing herself with food is key to her performance as a ballerina. “As ballet dancers we’re just burning calories all day long,” she says. “We have to be able to replenish ourselves, especially during high rehearsal and performance periods.”

After all, she has to have enough energy to do crazy sh*t like this on the regular:

Skylar Brandt in Le Corsaire.
Rosalie O’Connor

Skylar’s nutrition philosophy is actually pretty simple. “I do my best to eat things that will fuel my body and set me up best for what I have to do, because my job is entirely physical and pretty mental as well,” she says. That means protein to fuel her muscle, and oils and fats to power her brain. “But I eat everything,” she says—even cookies at night after rehearsal.

Here’s what Skylar noshes on in an average day:

Breakfast: Just a little something

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“I’m not a big morning person in general,” Skylar says (same, tbh). But even though she doesn’t have a big appetite in the morning, she knows it’s important to eat something—especially when she’s gearing up for a long day of rehearsals. “I’ll have a smoothie,” she says, “or scrambled eggs and toast.”

Lunch: Snacks on snacks on snacks

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Rehearsals are grueling, Skylar says, and often breaks are only about five minutes long—not really enough time to eat a full meal (much less pee or have some water). So she compensates by eating lots of little snacks for lunch throughout the day, whenever she has a spare minute.

“I’ll typically pack a snack from my fridge: take nuts in a Ziploc, slice up an apple, or take an energy bar,” she says. “I can still pop something in my mouth to keep my blood sugar levels up because once you start crashing, everything feels sluggish. It’s the last thing you need as a ballet dancer.”

Even harder, she says, is getting enough water. “We have to drink gallons of water just to make up for what we’re losing in sweat,” she says.

Dinner: A big-ass plate of pasta

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Notice how all of Skylar’s meals during the day are kind of small? Yeah, that changes at dinner. “The end of the day is my time to really enjoy a very big meal,” she says. “That’s my time to relax and I find food relaxing.” Her go-tos are pasta (yes, really), a big salad with berries and nuts, and fish.

But it’s not like she’s coming home from long days of dancing to then whip up a three-course meal à la Ina Garten. “I also pre-make my food on Sunday or on days off,” she says, “so that when I come home at night and it’s 10:30 and I’m exhausted, I can just take something out of the fridge and heat it up rather than eat all the cookies in the cupboard.”

Enjoying a big dinner is especially clutch when she has an evening performance—she’ll eat as early as 5 p.m. on those days to make sure she’s properly fueled up for the evening ahead. “All we have are some intermissions and usually you’re changing costumes,” she says, making it hard to grab a snack during the show. “I want to have a lot to last me. The worst feeling is being hungry on stage and thinking about it.”

Dessert: Treat yo’ self

“I have a huge sweet tooth,” Skylar says. “I don’t drink alcohol really or smoke, but sugar is like my vice.” She always rewards herself at the end of a long day with a small treat, like mint Milanos (her fav) or ice cream.

“It works for me to have a full, well-rounded eating plan and also include dessert,” Skylar says. Hear, hear.

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