What To Eat Before Singing (5+ Best Foods For Performances)

what to eat before singing

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Getting a little hangry before your performance? Or maybe want to munch on a snack before your vocal lesson?

Well, don’t worry cause I got your back (and stomach) on the best foods to eat before singing.

And one thing to point out in this guide is that…

Everybody is different, which means that you would ultimately need to see what works for you.

For example, I know some people where dairy isn’t a problem, and other singers sound like Hermit the Frog after a glass of milk.

But anyway… let’s get started.

The general rule is that anything that hydrates your body or has a lot of water is good for your voice (like watermelons), and anything that dehydrates or alters your voice is not good for your voice (ex., Alcohol, milk, spicy Cheetos, etc.…)

TLDR

The general rule is that anything that hydrates your body or has a lot of water is good for your voice (like watermelons), and anything that dehydrates or alters your voice is not good for your voice (ex., Alcohol, milk, spicy Cheetos, etc.…)

5+ Foods On What To Eat Before You Sing

1. Water (Plain ‘ol H20)

We’re going to start with our favorite (non-obvious) choice, which is water!

The plainer the water, the better.

This means no cold water.

No hot water.

Just good ‘ol room temperature water for your vocal cords.

I personally prefer filtered water as it has a better taste and less fluoride compared to tap water.

But what you probably don’t know is how much water you need to drink.

What you need to drink varies from person to person, but you should be aiming for at least 2,000ml (about 4 water bottles) a day and test from there.

This is because each person is different and is living in a different location. Some factors include:

  • Age
  • Height and weight (The bigger you are, the more water you need)
  • Environment (if it’s hot, then you need more water)

If you notice you’re peeing a lot after a couple of weeks (every 10 minutes), then you can tone it down, but if you notice you’re going every 2 hours, then you need to drink more water. 

One thing to caution: even though I looove sparkling water, I noticed that the carbonation is pretty bad for your voice so that is something to watch out for.

2. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits are very yummy (at least to me…)

But what you want to aim for is fruits with high water content and eating the actual fruit itself.

None of that Naked juice to hydrate your voice (cause it’s too sugary for you…)

But some of that nice and juicy watermelon or citrus fruits you eat on a hot summer day.

Eating fruits with a high water content, like watermelon, strawberry, and blueberries, will do much better at hydrating your voice than a banana.

The same thing applies to vegetables. It’s a lot better to eat fresh vegetables with a high water content like broccoli or carrots.

3. Lean Meat

lean meat for your voice and chicken

Chicken and fish would be good compared to beef, and here’s why:

When I have beef like hamburgers or steak, I notice that it’s heavier, and not only do I fall into a food coma, but it sometimes feels like it works harder on my digestive system than if I eat fish.

It really depends on the cut of meat and how much fat and protein is in it, but usually, you should stay away from fried food and even lean beef. Usually, fish and chicken are safer picks as they feel lighter in your stomach and will keep your body from using too much of its resources on digesting your food.

4. Honey

Even though honey has a lot of sugar (it’s pretty much just sugar)…

I noticed that just a little bit in your water or tea helps “sooth” my throat.

It’s also good at preventing sore throats as well if you warm it up with warm tea as they have antimicrobial properties.

Although you shouldn’t have too much before you start singing, having honey as part of your routine can be beneficial to your vocal cords. So it’s something to think about.

5. Unsalted Snacks

You can still eat snacks, but ideally, they should have less sodium because surprisingly…

Salty foods dehydrate your voice (Shocker… I know.)

That’s why eating things like unsalted nuts would be pretty good. It wouldn’t make your voice hydrated, but it would give you the nutritional needs you need to maintain a healthy body (which indirectly affects your voice…)

Plus, it’s also something savory and heavier than something like a watermelon so you can feel full faster.

5+ Foods to Avoid Before You Sing

I think it’s better to know what not to eat so you don’t unintentionally alter your voice before your next singing lesson.

You can go extreme and not eat any of this, but if you do eat any of them, it should be 3 hours before your performance at the minimum.

Cause even if I love ice cream and coffee, I gotta hold my horses. Cause that’s like a professional boxer downing a double mac from Mickey D’s and drinking a liter of soda before his match in 30 minutes.

1. Caffeine 

I hate to drop the truth bomb on y’all but…

You want to avoid that coffee and tea before your performance.

Coffee and (caffeinated) tea have caffeine, which is a diuretic and makes you less hydrated.

I love my caffeine, but I try to avoid it before singing cause it makes it harder to sing the high notes.

And you can feel it too when you keep using the bathroom and it’s harder to sing when your throat isn’t moisturized.

2. Alcohol

I’m sure those of you who partied hard and woke up with a hangover know that feeling when you need a glass of water (but more like 4 of them…)

But for you singers who drink casually, like a glass of whiskey or red wine, then just know that it dehydrates your voice, so I would recommend not doing it the night before a performance.

And the higher the alcohol content, the more it will dehydrate your voice. 

So, a can of beer will dehydrate your voice less than a glass of whiskey. That’s why you want to limit your alcohol consumption as much as you can before your performance.

3. Dairy

what not to eat before singing

This one hurts me since I love dairy too much.

I can list some of my favorite stuff like:

  • Mango Chobani
  • Pineapple pizza (*cough* I promise the pineapples hydrate your voice cough)
  • A glass of 100% organic WHOLE milk.

But alas, I must consider that I am altering my voice when I consume those products.

What I noticed is that it adds some mucous to your throat, creating a weird nasal effect and making it harder to hit the higher notes.

And that’s why I try not to consume it before a vocal lesson.

4. Spicy/Acidic Food

You want to avoid anything that’s spicy or acidic because it can either:

  1. Cause acid reflux
  2. Or it’s spicy enough that you can’t sing properly.

Of course, this depends on your spice tolerance, but what I noticed is that it “irritates” my mouth and throat, and it’s harder for me to sing (and talk) when I eat some spicy Cheetos. That is what spicy foods do to you.

You also want to avoid anything acidic like soda as it contains a lot of sugar and is carbonated (so you might burp during your performance.)

Anything cold, like soda or cold food, would also affect your voice because the temperature change will cause your vocal folds to constrict, which may affect the sound.

5. Processed Food

Processed food like Doritos and donuts is pretty bad for your voice because of all the fats, oils, and sugar…

And they just aren’t good for you (even if you got the munchies…)

Conclusion

Hope you found that helpful for knowing which foods and drinks to eat and avoid before your vocal performance. 

The key is that you want to make sure that you eat healthy foods with water and avoid foods that alter your voice or dehydrate you.

Let me know if you have any more foods to list!

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anthony nebel

Hey, I’m Anthony. I’m an experienced musician with 10+ years experience (mainly piano and guitar) and a vocal coach with 3+ years experience transforming his own voice and other students who never sang before.

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