What, when and how to eat or not to eat after a vocal effort: How food affects your voice
- You should eat and drink immediately or no later than 2 hours after a vocal effort.
- BUT, we’re always told about many things we must not eat or drink, such as tomatoes, eggplants, pepper, milk and dairy products, spicy or fried food, drinks containing caffeine, meat, cold or hot foods, and so on, and on.
Actually, if you pay more attention to what and when you should eat and drink, as well as practicing other vocal hygiene precautions such as daily exercises, proper rest, consuming natural voice support products, you may never suffer extreme vocal cords wear-off, and your voice system will be less affected by your diet.
First of all, I would like to stress that all “don’ts” vary over time, and from one person to another, since each individual has different response to any natural substance. Therefore, do not follow recommendations blindly, but check it out for yourself, and trust your experience to know what is best for you.
Some foodstuffs are good for you at certain times, (for example, at night, in the morning, before vocal effort, etc.), and harmful in other times. For example, coffee, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, is harmful, and increases acidity. But, in later hours, when you’re tired, and need a shot of caffeine, a cup of coffee (on a full stomach) could do you good an even help you produce a stronger voice with smaller effort, by relieving your serious fatigue that moment. So you must be open minded, checking for yourself and remember that everything depends on the circumstances.
Before choosing your diet, you must remember that contracted muscles get swollen. So, if your occupation involves a vocal effort, and you suffer a vocal strain, your vocal cords get swollen occasionally.
Just as the weightlifters’ arm muscles grow more swollen with the increase of the weight’s strain on the arm, an intense, ongoing vocal strain leaves your voice box muscles not only swollen but, occasionally, reddened and irritated.
Acidity, which enters the voice box from the esophagus, is harmful to your vocal cords, and those who experience vocal strain are affected more strongly than those who don’t and their voice box muscles are small, relaxed and not irritated. Therefore, if you sing or speak intensely, you must be more careful about what you eat and drink, especially in times of vocal strain.
You can notice these effects of acidity often. If you don’t, it means the acid was neutralized. In such a case, the damage is done, yet it is not serious enough for you to feel the acidity.
Practical tips for hastening the voice box recovery after a vocal effort:
- Constantly and appropriately nourish your vocal folds
The vocal folds, like the rest of your muscles, must be provided with of all the materials they need for building themselves, first of all, water.
During effort, your muscles produce heat, since most of the energy you spend on them is transformed into heat when they work. As a result, the used muscle’s area dehydrates. Therefore, during and right after a vocal effort, you must drink a little water. Water cools your throat down, preventing dehydration which is harmful to normal vocal performance.
After a vocal effort, preferably as immediately as possible after it, you should “fuel up” by eating carbohydrates, since you need an instant supply of glycogen. When your muscles do not have enough glycogen, the muscle tissue suffers an increased disintegration (muscles make up one layer of the vocal folds). I recommend a fruit smoothie, to which you can add some leafy greens, for protein (some researches show that the combination of carbohydrates and proteins is the ideal environment for storing glycogen and building muscles.
We also recommend eating some sunflower seeds, not-roasted, or another source of healthy fat, after the smoothie or the entire meal, to replenish the body fats necessary for energy and muscle building.
Recommended times for eating:
- As immediately as possible after a vocal effort, within 2 hours after it, in order to build the voice box muscles.
If you speak with high intensity and frequently, day by day, or sing every night or for two nights in a row, you must think not just of your vocal techniques and performance, but also of the moment or the day after. Therefore, it is highly important to quickly restore your voice after an intense vocal effort.
So enjoy your healthy meal!
TMRG Voice Specialist