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Eating for Energy


I must preface this blog with a disclaimer, I am not a nutritionist nor have I had any formal training in nutrition (apart from in Ms Redmond’s Home Economics class in secondary school). The advice contained herein is based purely on my own meandering experience, my voracious appetite for reading, my love affair with food and my desire to help others become their best self (cheesey I know but who doesn’t love a good Roquefort).

The Horses Mouth

‘Eating for energy’ is the title of a book I read many moons ago. I think it came free with some magazine. I don’t remember much from that book apart from the title and two key points: eat food types together and eat foods in their natural state as often as possible. The first point particularly resonated since it seemed to model how my younger brother ate his dinners. Carbs and Vegetables first, then proteins. He claimed ‘there is always room for meat’ so that is why he did it that way. The boy had the body of an Adonis despite drinking like a fish and eating crappy takeaways more often than one should.

I first started taking an interest in food when I was quite young and wanted to be a vegetarian but alas I was told no. If I wanted to eat ‘special’ foods, I would have to wait until I was a grown up and could buy them myself. So I ate what was put on the table, being Irish, this included a lot of stews and coddles, a full Irish, chips and curry sauce or egg and chips with bread and butter, pork chops, bacon and cabbage, roast chicken and potatoes and the nation’s favourite: Tayto sandwiches. All delicious in their own right, but once I had shelved the idea of being a vegetarian, I longed for the exotic flavours of Lasagne, Carbonara, Shawarma, Thai Curry and so from time to time I was indulged on rare family dinners outside our home. I weighed about 11.5 stone between the ages of 16-18 years old and wore a size 12 or 14 in pants; depending on the store I was buying from. At 5ft7inches, I was by no means overweight but I did very little in the way of physical activity during this period so overall I was quite unhealthy.

The science of eating for energy

I started ‘eating healthy’ when I was about 18 years old. Mostly, this involved eating less food during the week, drinking more water and carrying apples in my handbag. I slimmed down quickly and came to understand an important point in my journey to energy: I have a high metabolism. This basically means that I burn a high amount of amount of calories just functioning. Once I introduce exercise, I absolutely need to increase my calorie intake or I will wither away and people will think I have developed an eating disorder (fact!). Metabolic rate is an important factor in making food choices. What is yours? How can you figure it out?

A classic calculation for determining one’s metabolic rate is the Harris Benedict Equation. It seems like maths and yes it is maths, but it is fun and simple to complete:

• BMR Calculation for Women: 655 + (4.35 × weight in pounds) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age in years)
• BMR Calculation for Men: 66 + (6.23 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) – (6.76 × age in years)

To really determine your body’s energy needs, you should also account for how often you exercise. Use this table to adjust the Harris Benedict Equation to account for your physical activity level:

Factoring Exercise into the BMR Equation

wiley for dummies

Step off the scales

Calorie counting is on the one hand for those who want to lose/gain weight for health reasons and on the other hand essential background knowledge for anyone involved in a fitness activity whether as a hobby or as a professional. The recommended daily calorie allowance for the average female is about 2000 calories while 2500 are allowed for males. These figures don’t really make sense to me when one considers all other factors notably the fact that everyone is different. However, who am I to argue with the experts. Best leave that up to other experts who have created all manner of scientifically backed tools to aid weight loss programmes. The most useful tool I have come across in this regard is the Body Mass Index. This nifty formula calculates your unique digits to give you an optimal body weight. It is a useful starting point if weight loss is your first priority. But remember as Pole dancers we are eating for energy so please DO NOT cut your daily intake in half and then come to class expecting to be your bad ass self on our poles.


Rather than cutting back on calories and ipso facto food (Quelle Horreur!), Eating for energy is a lifestyle change that for all intents and purposes involves eating more of the right kinds of foods at the right times. Much like pole dancing, it is a journey and will become more sophisticated the more you practice it. You absolutely must learn about your body and maintain realistic expectations grounded in facts which brings me to my next point. I firmly believe that everything you have ever heard about portion control is fundamentally flawed. Again, I am no expert but having the benefit of a human body and the drive to learn how to make the best of what I have, I think proportion awareness is far more important, that is to say, what is your body type? There are three main body types: Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph. We all fall loosely into one or more of these categories and therefore have body strengths and weaknesses. The bad news here is that there are some things about your body that you simply cannot change unless of course you decide to spend crazy amounts of money on plastic surgery. The good news is that Pole dancing is for all body types and you can make radical changes to your body, mind and soul just by stepping through a studio door and being willing to try. Find out your body type with this informative quiz

body type

Save the Animals

I was finally motivated to adopt the meat free diet I had longed for as a 13 year old, when I was in New Zealand and experienced a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. I had no problem catching and killing a fish or eating a shellfish straight out of the sea but when it came to other beasts (land animals) I hit a wall. Three days of disturbing dreams followed a deer hunting expedition and my first ever taste of venison. I could not get the taste of its flesh, its energy, out of my mouth and my mind. Two hours after gulping down a burger king, I swore off meat. My friends laughed at my hypocrisy but I was determined. Becoming a ‘Pescatarian’ at the age of 24 was the start of my education in nutrition and food. Faced with more or less zero knowledge or experience cooking anything apart from what had been served in my home, I embarked on a wonderful journey of discovery. There are so many different things you can do with the enormous variety of foods, herbs and spices available in Ireland. My palate didn’t know what hit it and neither will yours once you start eating for energy. You must be open to new tastes while you experiment with dishes in order to find a repertoire to suit your own palate and lifestyle. These days I am a meat eater and have been since a little blue plus sign showed I was indeed a ‘fertile myrtle’. Although credit where credit is due, a meat free lifestyle was instrumental in my journey as a gourmand.

A Pleaser girl eats……

All the colours…yes that is right, if you want to emit rainbows from your butt you have got to fill your gut. This means all the fruits and all the vegetables, the more colourful the better.

Protein, protein and more protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, lentils, cheese, tofu and the various meat substitutes…the list goes on, there really is no excuse and let’s face it, pole rips muscles and only protein will build them back up. Always eat protein after poling or doing other forms of exercise.

Lemons and limes. The things you can do with these lively little fruits are endless. They make great beauty products too!

Enough to fulfil all of her body’s needs and eliminates empty calories. Operative word here being needs. Sugary drinks are empty calories but I know how hard it can be to cut them out so, pace yourself instead, just like you would if you were on a session for a big day out. Intersperse those coca colas with a glass of water and soon you won’t enjoy their syrupy sugar-ness.

Advocado – love it or hate it, avocado is chock full of all the good fats a body needs. Seriously if you are not eating an avocado a day, you mustn’t shop in Aldi. Moore Street open air market do great deals too!

Spinach and Seaweed, two of my favourite power foods. These versatile greens can be used in a myriad of ways, fresh, frozen or freeze dried.

Exotic flavours – what’s your favourite? We are so lucky to have a wide variety of spices, herbs and global flavours available to us. So, don’t be shy, throw a new flavour into your cart and get cooking.

Raw – can’t cook, won’t cook, no problem. Eating most of your foods raw will help eliminate this condition. Sushi for lunch anyone?

Great chocolate – that expression ‘once you go black, you will never go back’ is completely fitting here. Dark chocolate is known for its bitterness as well as its benefits. Warning: do not eat before bedtime or you will be bouncing off the walls into the wee hours of the morning.

Interesting new foods and dishes until she finds what works well for her

Rice and Pasta – the good carbs (whole wheat is best but whatever takes your fancy). Stuff your face with these before you hit a training session for a slow release of energy that will keep you poling with passion right to the end of class. All manner of oats are great for breakie and you can load them up with fruits, berries, nuts or seeds for an extra dollop of energy

Loves her cake and eats it. Yes that is right ladies. Don’t skimp on desserts. You work hard on that pole, you deserve to enjoy the sweet stuff too. Again there are a wide range of ways you can do this but the most important point here is that sugar in its natural form is A ok.

Fall in love with Food

So ladies, I urge you to fall in love with food in the same way that you have fallen in love with your first pair of pleasers, the look, the feel, the taste, the smell (well maybe not after you have used them in your first killer exotic class!) but you get the drift.

If like many of us, you enjoy consuming 3000 calories in one sitting, then you have a lot to be grateful for; who doesn’t love a good three course meal washed down with delicious wines. However, one must be aware of the accumulation effect, doing this weekly will certainly leave its mark and you must counter this type of first world problem with first class choices for the rest of the time.

• Become a Savvy shopper – stock up on all the good stuff when it is in season, chop it, slice it, dice it and store it in your freezer if like me you always buy too much.

• Cook to cater or cook on a contingency basis. Whatever your lifestyle, think about eating for taste and energy not cravings. My dad always tells me I cook for armies and often I do. I am thinking of the weeks ahead and how busy my schedule can get. I like nothing better than getting up on a cold dark winters morning and pulling a hearty ham and lentil stew or spicy coconut chicken curry from my freezer. Equally, when my stocks are getting low or I just don’t know what to do with what I have in the fridge on a given day, I get ready, I get steady and I just cook using my taste buds as my guide. That and my pantry full of flavours.

• Make balanced nutrition choices, safe in the knowledge that clean eating coupled with weekly treating is the right formula, that and Pole Dancing of course.
So that is it Ladies, happy eating, happy poling and remember the pole loves skin so rather than lose your love lady lumps to lousy diet plans. Eat for energy and leave the rest up to nature. Keep an eye on our blog for tasty recipes that are guaranteed to turn you into a goddess in the kitchen as well as on the pole.

Food love,

Jillian xxx

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