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Feeling Tired And Drowsy?  
Eat Right For Vocal Energy
By Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D.
Voice Specialist
Do you think food can affect your voice?
Well, I've been conducting an informal study for the past few years, asking my clients about their diets.
I started this because many of my clients, especially broadcasters, don't have the greatest eating habits. They tend to fall into two categories:
The first group answers my query about how they eat on a typical workday by saying, "Oh, I have a Venti Starbucks on the way to work and then I pretty much forget about eating until I get home after a long day."
The other group tells me they keep going by snacking all day on healthy things like dried fruit and lo-fat cookies and pretzels.
Think either of these has it right? The answer is, No!
What they are missing is what my study has been about, and that's protein.
I tell my clients to stick with the snacking idea and eat every 3 to 4 hours, BUT they must include some protein with the carbs every time they eat something.
That's the happy marriage that makes for good vocal energy.
I can report to you that every single client who begins eating protein throughout the day has come back astonished at how much additional vocal energy they have, and how much better they feel.
They are amazed that such a simple change can result in better energy all day long.
To understand this, let me give you a short lesson in how blood sugar works.
Basically, any food that grows out of the ground is a carbohydrate. It might be processed into bread, for example, but it still comes from the ground.
Any carb is basically sugar and will be used up quickly in the body.
With carbs alone you get a burst of energy, only to crash after around 30 minutes - feeling more tired than you were before you ate.
Protein, on the other hand, slows down the release of the sugar in your body.
Proteins all come from animal or fish products or by-products (two exceptions are nuts and soy).
It doesn't take a lot of protein to balance the carbs. Aim for two-thirds carbs and one-third protein whenever you eat.
The way to get energy and keep it for 3 to 4 hours is to marry protein with carbs. This puts you at peak performance.
If you remember this happy marriage and put it to use every few hours, I bet you'll feel the difference. You'll have good energy all day long that will be reflected in your vocal delivery as well as your physical stamina.
Want some ideas of what you might eat for better energy?
Try these combinations of carbs and protein as mini-meals five times a day. They may not sound like a complete meal, but remember you’ll be eating every 3 to 4 hours to keep your energy up.
You can also use these for snacks 3 times a day and eat your regular healthy meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. This will keep your blood sugar from dropping between meals.
  • Fruit with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • A cup of yogurt with a tablespoon of granola mixed in
  • Pita bread and a fourth of a cup of tuna
  • Instant oatmeal with a cup of lo-fat milk
  • Half of a whole wheat bagel with lo-fat cream cheese
  • Vegetable sticks with a cheese stick
  • A slice of lunchmeat wrapped around a bread stick
  • A half-cup of lo-fat cottage cheese with some dried fruit or raisins
  • A half sandwich on whole wheat bread (lunchmeat, tuna, chicken)
  • A hard-boiled egg and whole wheat crackers
  • And even a slice of pizza!
Want to know more about vocal energy? Download a copy of my ebook, Broadcast Voice Handbook.
Besides all the great voice info, you'll even find a handy list of foods to eat during the day that give you the happy marriage of proteins and carbs.
Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D., is a voice specialist with more than 40 years experience and has helped hundreds of people make the most of their voices, working with broadcasters, voice over artists and podcasters around the world. An author of eight books and over 50 articles on voice, her Broadcast Voice Handbook is used in newsrooms and classrooms throughout the U.S. It is designed as a self-help book that teaches how to improve every aspect of your voice. Her website offers more information, including a link to her informative blog and a free mp3 to begin your voice improvement.

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Comments (6)
Dave Menashe
8/11/2011 at 4:35 PM
Excellent tips, Ann. Thanks!
Ann Utterback
8/4/2011 at 2:04 PM
Thanks Mike, Carl, Jim, and Dan for your kind comments about my article. I'm so glad you found it helpful. Nutrition is a topic I write about often because I've seen and heard the difference it can make.

Regarding coffee, Carl, the tables have really turned on that in the last few years. When I began working with broadcasters in 1985, caffeine was considered one of the worst things for your health. Now they are saying it's actually good for your health! All agree, though, that over 400 mg a day leads to poor sleep and nervousness. But your one cup is definitely okay.

Ann Utterback
Mike Coon
8/4/2011 at 10:31 AM
Thank you for this practical advice. I can definitely tell the positive difference when I include protein as you recommend!
Carl Bobb
8/4/2011 at 9:56 AM
Thank you, Ann! It's great to have confirmation I'm doing the right things. My one little weakness has always been ice cream at night, and a year ago I told my wife to please stop buying it, because I don't have the will power not to eat it. Ice cream causes lots of congestion for me.

I'm curious what you think of coffee. I've read often that it is not good for you, but I only have one cup a day after lunch. What say you?

Jim Conlan
8/4/2011 at 9:39 AM
It's about time we had more discussion about nutrition and voice performance. Others may have differing opinions about the ideal balance; I'm sure a lot has to do with age, metabolism, etc. But at least you are opening up the discussion. I will share this with my voice-over students. Thanks.
Dan Deslaurier
8/4/2011 at 5:36 AM
I've got to hand it to you John, you pick some good ones! As a teacher of young children, on my feet all day, and as a VO artist behind the mic at night, this is an important topic, and sound advice--treating yourself the best you can so that you can be your best for others. I will be sure to share this one with my student teachers!

Thanks again John, and keep up the good work!

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