Isabella Boylston has been dancing since she was 3 years old. In 2014, she earned a coveted spot as principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater (ABT), and has since starred in the company's productions around the world. (Fun fact: She also appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in Red Sparrow.)
Now an accomplished ballerina, Isabella is equal parts artist and elite athlete—all in one seriously strong bod.
When she's not thrilling crowds on stage or rehearsing combinations, Isabella is probably eating. "Food is one of my favorite subjects," she tells Women's Health. "People are surprised to hear ballerinas eat so much pasta—but we exercise so much. I rehearse for up to nine hours a day when I'm in-season so having adequate fuel is essential."
Isabella says she aims for a "well-balanced diet" of vegetables, protein, and carbs, "but, I basically eat whatever I want to be powered-up for my rehearsals and shows," she says. Here's what an average day of her eats looks like.
Isabella starts her day with a hearty meal before heading to dance class. "Usually I eat an egg and cheese sandwich or a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast," she says. (Her favorite on-the-go option: the egg sandwich from Daily Provisions in New York City's Union Square.) Hot sauce, of course, is a necessity.
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Coffee is also "obviously essential" to her morning. "In the summer, I'll make iced coffee with coconut creamer," Isabella says. "I'll buy a bunch of iced coffee at the grocery store and store it in my fridge, and then pour that out with some coconut creamer or half and half."
It doesn't take long before Isabella's hungry again. After morning ballet class, it's snack time. "I'll eat a small snack in the cafeteria," she says. "I'll get something from a salad bar, like a little salad with some tuna or chicken salad as protein."
When Isabella will be performing later, she gets lunch at a restaurant across from Lincoln Center called Fiorello's. "I'll get pasta with my friend James Whiteside since we perform together a lot," she tells Women's Health. "We'll eat pasta and then split a pizza to majorly carbo-load before the show."
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"Some people might consider pasta with a side of pizza heavy, but I don't get the richest pasta," she explains. Her preferred plate: spaghetti pomodoro (spaghetti carbonara and penne vodka are also favorites, though). As for the pizza on the side? it's usually a simple margherita, possibly with mushrooms.
Isabelle usually eats her "show day lunch" around 3 or 3:30 p.m., so she has a good five hours to digest before taking the stage.
Noodles prevail when Isabella eats at home, too. One of her favorite types: soba buckwheat noodles. "It's so delicious with seaweed, kimchi, and asparagus and a side of salmon," she says. Often, she'll make it for dinner and finish up the leftovers for lunch the next day.
On performance nights, Isabella eats a banana at intermission. She also downs one or two packs of Sqwinchers, an electrolyte mix that ABT's physical therapists stock, to stay hydrated throughout the performance.
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After performances, Isabella enjoys a meal out. "After shows, I'll usually go out to dinner with friends and family," she says. "The exertion [of performing] is so extreme that I don't really have an appetite right away."
When hunger kicks in, Isabella orders whatever sounds good to her—like a cheeseburger, steak frites, or more pasta, and likely a glass of wine. "I generally go for wine over a cocktail, but I do really enjoy a margarita in the summer," she adds.
At home, Isabella's dinners have major European vibes. "I've been eating dinner around 10 a lot of nights," she says. "I'll make like a little cheese board with really good cheeses from our local grocery store and have a little wine."
Craving a little cheese and noodle action sans dairy? Try this vegan mac and cheese recipe:
In addition to the cheese, she'll go for meat with a side of rice and vegetables or more pasta and veggies. Her go-to's are spinach, arugula, and broccoli. "I'll throw arugula on top of whatever pasta I'm eating without dressing or anything," Isabella says. "It's actually a really good complement to spaghetti."
Though she says she's not ready to go full vegetarian, Isabella has been eating less meat lately "for ethical and environmental reasons." Some nights, she keeps it plant-based with dishes like black bean enchiladas or lentil soup.
Since Isabella's sweet tooth has chilled out over the years, dessert isn't a must-have anymore. "I don't eat a lot of sugar just because I don't actually crave much sugar," she says. "When I was a kid I had a huge sweet tooth, but then it phased out. I don't restrict myself; I'd just much rather eat French fries than cake or something sweet."
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