What to eat (and avoid) if you’re a musician preparing for a performance

If you’re a musician then you’ll be used to the pressure of being in stage, and the sacrifices that come with a perfect performance.

However, few people in the industry realize the importance of a healthy diet. With endless hours of rehearsals, months spent inside the studio, tours, and live performances, musicians often have little time to eat and rest. And over the years, this unhealthy lifestyle can take its toll on their health and overall performance. 

If you want to boost your energy levels and give 100% on the stage, here are some of the foods you should try to eat, and foods you should try to avoid as a musician before an important gig. 

What NOT to eat before a gig

Here are three foods you should try to avoid before a gig.

1) Dairy products

We know, cheese is life, and you cannot see yourself living in a world where there isn’t enough ranch or melted cheese for your nachos. However, dairy products are difficult to break down by your body, meaning digestion will take longer, and you might feel ‘heavier’. 

If you also deal with stress and anxiety before performing in front of a big crowd, dairy products can also cause acid reflux that can burn your vocal cords or mess up with your stomach. 

So, unless you want to visit the bathroom more often or feel the need to drink water constantly, try to avoid all dairy products (including cheese, milk, and yogurt) at least three hours before your big gig. 

2) Processed sugar

A sweet tooth may be your body’s mechanism to cope with stress, anxiety, and nervousness associated with appearing in front of a large public. However, sugar isn’t easily processed by your body either and can end up hanging around in your mouth and throat, causing difficulties singing or symptoms like choking and extreme thirst.

If processed sugar isn’t balanced with a similar amount of fibers or proteins, it can give you an energy drop once the sugar rush is gone. As a result you can experience a lack of focus and slower hand-eye coordination, which is extremely important if you are playing an instrument. 

3) Caffeine

Similar to sugar, caffeine will give you an energy boost for a couple of hours, which could prove beneficial on stage. Unfortunately, it is also a diuretic, meaning it will make you urinate more often.

So, unless you want to miss your big performance because you’re stuck in the bathroom, waiting for your turn, refrain from coffee and all caffeine-based beverages (including soda and energy drinks) at least three to four hours before the show. 

Keep in mind that caffeine will also cause your body to dehydrate quicker, so you should drink enough water and warm beverages (not hot though) to keep you in perfect shape. 

What to eat before a performance

So now you know what to avoid before a performance. But what SHOULD you try to eat? Here are two suggestions.

1) Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit is perfect before a show because it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants, boosting your energy levels without causing any side effects.

You can eat fruit raw, juiced or combined with a source of fibers for a healthy snack before the show.

2) Fish

Baked, broiled, fried or grilled, fish can be served alone or with a generous side of steamed or grilled veggies for a healthy and delicious meal. 

Fish is a lean source of proteins but it’s also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for your muscles and help you recover better. This food is perfect for those who play an instrument because it can prevent muscle cramps and sores. 

This means you won’t need to worry about numb thumbs, carpal tunnel problems or sore muscles. Instead, you can focus on how to choose a good piece of affordable equipment so that you can perfectly play the violin.

Photo by Jan Střecha