What to Eat on Set for Sustained Energy + Optimal Performance

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Photo Source: Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Being on set is a thrilling experience. The audition is done, the thrill of the “you booked it!” call from your agent is behind you, and you are finally here, ready to work and shine!

After you wait for three-to-five hours in the trailer, of course.

Yeah, set is amazing, but for actors, it can be a lot of hurry-up and wait. But when the time comes to be “on,” you have to be on.

So how do you strategically eat throughout your working day so that you have consistent energy without any crashes that could impede your performance? Here’s how.

The morning of your shoot...
...avoid having a ton of carbohydrates by themselves. Things like cereal, toast, or even a fruit salad are no-nos. When you have all this sugar, you send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster that will increase your appetite and lead to a mid-morning crash.

Instead of those excess carbs, include some good fats in your breakfast. Add coconut oil in your tea or coffee. Have soft boiled eggs with sauteed veggies. Make a shake that includes fat (coconut oil, MCT oil, nut butters), a protein (protein powders), and some veggies and berries.

When you get to set...
...opt for green tea over coffee. Green tea has less caffeine so you won’t get jittery and nervous, but also has the calming amino acid L-Theanine which will help give you a nice sense of zen while you wait.

READ: Actor Nutrition + Why You Should Care

And beware of candy at the craft table. It is extremely easy to grab the easy-access candy on set, but I urge you not to. Again, this will spike your blood sugar and what goes up must come down. It’ll drag your performance and energy, possibly mid-take!

Instead of candy, bring your own 80 percent or higher dark chocolate to have on hand. (They likely won’t have that high-quality chocolate on set.) Eat a couple squares when you need a little boost. Dark chocolate is a great way to get some healthy polyphenols that can boost your mood and mental clarity, and chocolate is also a great source of magnesium, the anti-stress mineral.

At lunch...
...avoid heavy carbs like pasta, bread, and rice. Instead, opt for a clean protein like a meat or tofu/tempeh and non-starchy veggies like a heaping salad. By avoiding the pasta and bread, you won’t have the brain fog that notoriously happens after lunch and by avoiding gassy veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, you won’t feel bloated, either. Save the cruciferous veggies for after your shoot.

While you’re waiting...
...practice some breathing exercises every half hour or so. This will help oxygenate the brain and can distract you from endlessly running lines in your head. Try this one on for size: Breathe in as much as you can for a count of five, hold for a count of eight, and exhale for a count of ten, and hold that out-breath as long as you can. Repeat it a couple of times. It gives you a nice surge of invigoration!

Follow these guidelines and you’re sure to have more sustained energy throughout your shoot day and hopefully won’t have any energy dips that could impede performance.

Kyle Buchanan is an actor, nutritionist and speaker based in Toronto whose acting credits include “Suits,” “Slasher,” “Murdoch Mysteries,” and dozens of commercials. He works with performers, speakers, and anyone who has to be “on” in life to hack their potential—both body and mind—so that when the time comes to perform, they’re at 100 percent. He’s the author of “Hack Guide: for the Actor,” a go-to resource for any actor who wants look and feel their best, up their confidence, and supercharge their booking potential.

For more information on Kyle and his work, head on over to www.kylebuchanan.ca. And find Kyle on Instagram for daily health hacks and fun times at @itskyleb!

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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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