An Actor’s Guide to Nutrition

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Actors have an incredible life. Erratic schedules, multiple jobs, rerouting an entire schedule for one audition and constantly being faced with rejection. It’s odd and wonderful all at the same time. We’re built tough. Sometimes it feels like we don’t really have a lot of control and in many cases, this is true. Especially when it comes to casting. One thing we do have control over is what we put into our bodies and our ability to make smart choices that will fuel us and allow us to thrive when the pressure is on.

Nutrition is a vital part of every actor’s kit. It affects your energy, your mental state, your line-memorizing brain, your skin, everything. So treat it as an awesome tool and use it to your advantage. 

Here are some basics when it comes to nutrition, tailored to the actor. 

Bring snacks.
If you’re running from day job to day job, keep raw nuts and seeds (raw meaning no other added oils on the ingredients list) handy to snack on. Walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds are my top picks. Not only will these fuel the brain and provide healthy fats, but being snack-prepared will prevent those impulse trips to fast-food chains.

Choose healthy options at the craft services table.
If you’re on set, choose things like veggies, nuts, boiled eggs, and dark chocolate to snack on at the craft table. You can pocket the pastries for after your performance since having them before can affect your energy and make you more tired than you already are waiting around all day. 

READ: The Actor’s Comprehensive Guide to Self-Care

If you like breakfast, choose the right foods.
If you are a breakfast-type person, make sure your breakfast is loaded with nutrient-dense foods to kick start the day, not something like cereal which will just spike your blood sugar levels and drain you later. My favorite go-to is a smoothie that includes a vanilla vegan protein powder, almond butter, MCT oil, spinach, and one cup frozen blueberries with a pinch of cinnamon.

If you don’t like breakfast, you can try fasting.
If you’re not a breakfast person, maybe intermittent fasting is right for you. This is where you limit your eating window to a 6-8 hour period in the day. There are few restrictions aside from abiding with the fasting and nonfasting times. 

Avoid heavy carbs at lunch.
Your lunch choice on set should also avoid heavy carbs like pasta and bread. Instead, opt for a clean protein (i.e. not fried) like meat, chicken, or tofu, and add as many nonstarchy veggies as you want with a big salad which is normally an available option. If they have berries as a dessert option, go for it. The polyphenols in them will help boost your energy! 

Try supplements.
Because we have to memorize a ton, I recommend all actors take a fish or algae oil daily as a source of rich Omega 3’s, which help support your awesome brain. Probiotics are also a staple for me and my clients. They reduce bloat and help support the immune system so you don’t have a cold for the entire pilot season! 

Drink tea daily.
Finally, I always recommend actors find their favorite calming tea to drink daily to support the body’s stress response. We actors have a rollercoaster emotional life! Some of my favorites are green tea, holy basil tea (which is super calming), lemon balm, chamomile, or peppermint (which is amazing right before an audition to combat those nerves).

These are only some of the ways to use nutrition to your advantage. It’s an incredible tool. Use it and take good care of yourself!

Looking to get cast? Apply to casting calls on Backstage.

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Kyle Buchanan
Kyle Buchanan is one of the acting industry’s top health and nutrition experts. Being an actor himself, he works one-on-one with actors and performers across North America. Through nutrition, health-hacking and personal development coaching, his clients are able to look their best, feel their best and subsequently perform their best, booking more along the way.
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