So you have a gig coming up, and you’re starting to get hungry. You’re wondering if you should hold off from eating and sing on an empty stomach. Many singers wonder the exact same thing.
What you put in your body before your performance is crucial because of the physical nature of singing. Eating the wrong foods could lead to an uncomfortable experience onstage, which can negatively affect your voice.
So do you sing better on an empty stomach?
Singing on an empty stomach is not recommended because doing so can affect your energy levels, especially if you’re planning to sing for an extended period of time. You may feel weak and lack the necessary power to hit those high and difficult notes. Singing on an empty stomach can also cause your stomach to growl and rumble, which can be especially uncomfortable on stage.
Maintaining good eating habits and eating the right foods is important to sing at your very best. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the foods that affect your voice and the best time to eat before you sing.
What should you eat or drink before singing?
Deciding on the right foods and drinks will help set you up for an excellent performance. Here are some of the best foods you should have on the day of your performance. One thing to note is that although these foods and drinks are suitable for a singer’s diet, consuming too much and stuffing yourself can have an adverse effect and create a bloated feeling.
Hydrating your vocal cords will be among the main focuses of the day if you want to sing properly. One of the most popular teas out there for singers is Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Tea (Amazon). This tea is definitely a go-to beverage for many singers because of it’s soothing and warm properties. It provides the necessary hydration for your voice and can ease any discomfort you have in your throat. It’s perfect for those who are singing with a cold or a runny nose.
This tea also has a sweet, earthy taste to it with a hint of licorice. If that is not your cup of tea (pun intended), you can try the eucalyptus tea (Amazon), which is also quite soothing and has a refreshing mint flavor.
Manuka honey is excellent for your voice because of the potent healing properties it possesses. I like this Manuka Honey from Comvita (Amazon) because of the premium grade honey that it provides. There aren’t any added sugars, and it hails from New Zealand.
A teaspoon of Manuka honey with hot water can help lubricate your throat lining. If you can’t find Manuka honey, you can use regular honey that you see in the supermarket. Do be careful with choosing honey because many brands have added sugar, which can create more phlegm in your throat.
Although eating meat doesn’t directly impact your voice, having an excellent protein source in your meals is important to give your body the necessary fuel that it needs for strenuous activity. If you’re singing on stage and performing for multiple sets, make sure to add some lean meat to your diet.
It’s essential the meat is lean because if you’re eating fatty pieces of meat, it can make you feel bloated and sluggish.
For vegetarians, tofu is a trusted source of protein that you can add to your singer’s diet. It’s low in fat and high in protein.
Fruits and Veggies
Consuming more fruits and vegetables is a great way to add healthy vitamins and minerals in your diet while keeping you feeling fuller for longer without making you feel too bloated. Certain fruits like watermelon and honeydew can help hydrate the lining of your throat and are great to add to water for extra freshness.
What is the best time to eat before you sing?
As mentioned earlier, singing on an empty stomach isn’t beneficial to your performance. However, eating at the right time is. Having a meal 1 – 2 hours before you sing is a reasonable time frame to maximize the energy levels without negatively affecting your ability to sing.
Similarly to working out and exercising, your body needs time to digest all the food in your meal. Eating too close to your performance time can cause you to be very uncomfortable when you sing on stage. Especially if you’re trying to hit those high notes!
How to prepare your meals before a performance?
If you know you’re going to be singing on that day, it’s quite helpful to plan what you’re going to eat around your singing time. Depending on what time you’ll be singing, you should start preparing your voice properly right from the beginning of the day.
If you’re singing in the morning, it tends to be very easy to skip your meal and sing on an empty stomach. I recommend you to prepare a small breakfast like fruits and toast. Eating light is the way to go for early singing sessions. Also, make sure to hydrate yourself with water and not caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic and can cause dehydration in your body.
For performances in the afternoon or evening, make sure to plan what you’re going to eat before your performance. It can be easy to have fast food or unhealthy meals, especially if you have a gig at a bar or a restaurant. Alcohol should be avoided due to it’s dehydrating properties to your voice, not to mention the gassiness that you’ll feel on stage.
What foods and drinks should Singers avoid?
As delicious as these foods may be, eating deep-fried food affects your overall health and creates dryness and hoarseness in your voice. Fried foods contain high-fat content, which can trigger heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. It’s not something you want to be having before you sing!
The salt content should also be taken into account when eating fried food. Overly salty snacks can dehydrate your throat and body. It can also force you to clear your throat more often, which can irritate your vocal cords.
Citrus Fruits and Drinks
Fruits with high citrus content like grapes, orange, pineapple, and tomato can cause dryness to your vocal cords. It can also produce mucus in your throat, which irritates your vocal cords.
If I feel my throat sounds hoarse or full of phlegm, I usually have Vocalzone’s Lozenges to help clear it. This lozenge helps soothe voice strain, hoarseness, and keeps a clear voice.
Though it’s quite common for singers to have a couple of drinks at a gig, it’s important to know that alcohol can dehydrate the body and affect your ability to function at 100% onstage.
When you’re singing, your body relies on your vocal cords to be well lubricated to vibrate properly so that it creates sound. By drying the vocal cords out, your vocal stamina will become much shorter, and you’ll start to strain your voice early into your song.
If you want to learn more about what foods and drinks you should avoid as a singer, I’ve written a full post that you can check out here.
Important eating guidelines to follow:
- Eat 1-2 hours before you sing
- Avoid drinking alcoholic and caffeinated drinks 3 hours before you drink
- Consume fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelon and cucumber.
- Hydrate yourself throughout the day. Don’t drink ice water
- Stay away from sugary drinks to avoid a build-up of mucus
Understanding food nutrition is a great way to improve your singing and overall performance on stage. Knowing what to eat and when to eat it will help you go a long way with providing enough energy levels while you sing. Next time, before you need to sing, take s]some time and plan out what you’re going to eat. You’ll find that doing so will have a positive impact on your voice and your energy.
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