Chocolate’s a much-loved indulgent treat. It’s people’s go-to comfort food to lift their mood, to help them relax, or to simply enjoy. However, is chocolate good or bad for singers?
As a singer, this sweet treat is one of the worst foods you can reach for before a performance and you should avoid eating chocolate before you sing at all costs. Its high sugar and caffeine content can badly impact your vocal cords. You don’t have to rule out chocolate forever as a singer, but making informed food choices will help take care of your voice.
Vocal health is important as a singer. It’s good to know what foods you should and shouldn’t eat before a show, so you can keep your vocals sounding their best. There’s lots of research into the effects of chocolate on a singer’s vocals, as well as how to minimise them, as this article explores.
Is chocolate bad for singing?
Unfortunately for chocolate lovers, it’s actually one of the worst foods to snack on before you sing. It’s high in both sugar and caffeine – two products that can affect the performance of your vocal cords before a show. Sugar can stick around in your throat after eating it and increase the production of mucus, which may make your voice sound phlegmy and unappealing.
Eating sugary chocolate doesn’t just affect your throat; it can affect your whole body before a performance. The spike in energy from the sugar will be followed by a crash in energy when the rush wears off. This will leave you feeling depleted just as you’re about to get on stage.
Caffeine – another main ingredient in chocolate – is equally as bad for your body before a show. Caffeine can drain water out of your system and leave your vocal folds dry. If you indulge in caffeinated chocolate before singing, your voice might not be able to reach its full range and endurance.
Is dark chocolate better for singers than other chocolate?
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can be good for your health. Chocolate with 65% cocoa solids or more is rich in antioxidants and can help lower blood pressure and increase your metabolism. Dark chocolate is healthier than milk and white chocolate – but it’s still a hazard to your voice.
Dark chocolate typically contains less sugar and milk than the other types of chocolate. But don’t be misled into thinking this makes it a better choice for singers; dark chocolate has a higher caffeine content than milk chocolate. According to studies, dark chocolate contains 12mg of caffeine per ounce, while milk chocolate contains 9mg per 1.55 ounces.
The caffeine in dark chocolate can potentially dehydrate your vocal cords and trigger acid reflux before a show, so it’s best to steer clear of all types of chocolate before you sing.
Is drinking hot chocolate bad for singers?
Hot chocolate and cocoa powder are just as bad for your voice as chocolate in its solid form. They still contain caffeine and have a high sugar content which can leave your voice raspy.
Hot chocolate also contains milk; another product that should be strictly avoided before a performance. Consuming dairy can play havoc with your vocal cords and congest your throat with mucus. This will leave you feeling the urge to clear your throat constantly; something you don’t want just before an audition.
Hot chocolate is generally lower in caffeine than coffee, tea, and most soft drinks. However, it should still be treated with caution because its chocolate and dairy content will hamper your vocal ability.
How to minimise the impact of chocolate on your voice
It’s best you avoid eating chocolate in any form in the hours before a performance. That doesn’t mean you have to eliminate chocolate from your diet completely, though! There are still ways you can enjoy chocolate and limit its effect on your voice.
- Chocolate isn’t recommended before you sing, but that doesn’t mean you have to hold back after your performance! Save your chocolate treat until after you’ve been on stage.
- Drink some water or herbal tea alongside chocolate to help bring moisture back to your vocal folds.
- Choose brands of hot chocolate that have a lower caffeine content to reduce the energy spike. Those made with cocoa mix usually have smaller caffeine content.
- Look at the labels to evaluate which brands are the highest in sugar and caffeine. Dark chocolate is made with more cocoa solids, so will have higher caffeine content.
Do sweets affect your vocal cords?
Sweets are another guilty pleasure you’ll have to learn to avoid before a performance. All types of sweets, from gummy sweets to boiled sweets, have an incredibly high sugar content and will affect your voice before you sing.
Sweets are high in sugar but low in protein and fibre. This imbalance of nutrients will cause you to wear out really quickly and feel sluggish once the sugar rush has worn off. Your voice can sound different if you consume too much sugar before singing.
The sweetness can linger in your mouth and coat your throat with mucus, causing a build-up of phlegm. This can make your singing voice sound throatier. Be cautious of sucking mints before a show as these can have a sugar content close to confectionary sweets.
Is sugar–free chocolate good for singers?
Opting for a sugar-free chocolate bar might seem like the perfect solution to reducing your sugar intake. You won’t experience a sugar crash like with normal chocolate but filling up on sugar-free or reduced sugar products before a show can still be bad for you.
Sugar alcohols like maltitol, sorbitol and erythritol are often used as a sweetening replacement in sugar–free products. These may not spike your blood sugar levels in the same way as normal sugar, but they can sometimes cause adverse side effects like bloating and digestive problems if eaten in large amounts. Be careful of how much you eat and don’t be tempted to eat more just because it’s sugar–free.
Best foods to eat for your voice
Processed chocolate has very little nutritional value and won’t give your body the energy it needs to perform. The best type of foods to eat before a show are those that are rich in nutrients and vitamins, like:
- Fresh fruit
Chocolate may be bad for your voice before you perform, but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate it from your diet completely. Save your bar of chocolate as a reward for when you get off stage instead.
What do you think is a good alternative to chocolate for a singer? Let us know in the comments below!