There’s a lot of confusion over whether dairy and milk is good or bad for singing. Everything in your body is connected, so it’s important to understand how what you consume can affect your vocals. Does drinking milk affect your voice? What alternatives should you drink instead?
Should you drink milk before you sing and is dairy bad for your voice? Performers are often told that they should avoid drinking milk in the hours before singing, as fat-rich dairy products can cause the mucus in your throat to thicken.
Drinking milk or dairy products can make singing more challenging and irritate your vocal cords. Phlegm can also increase your vocal breaks and make transitioning through your different vocal registers more difficult. So what should you drink as an alternative?
Is milk good for singers?
Why shouldn’t you drink milk before singing?
While there’s no evidence that dairy products actually produce phlegm, too much dairy in your diet can thicken the mucus that’s already present in your airways, which negatively affects your singing voice.
If you naturally have a nasally sound to your voice, or you have difficulties raising your soft palate for high notes, avoid milky drinks in general.
We suggest avoiding milk on the day of your performance, and switching to water which hydrates the vocal cords and improves your tonal quality.
You may still want milk with your cereal or enjoy the calcium benefits it has. Therefore, you can switch to alternatives such as coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk and even rice milk.
Is milk and dairy bad for your vocals?
If you attempt singing after drinking milk, you’ll notice that it feels harder to approach the note. This is because the thick liquid sticks to your throat and nasal cavity, which means you constantly have to clear your throat. Of course, you can’t continuously do this on stage, so you have to deal with an unclear tone and irritation. Phlegm can even lead to vocal breaks, as air pockets try to break through the phlegm in your throat.
Also, phlegm doesn’t go away instantly. So, if you drink milk on days when you’re singing, you’ll need to drink copious amounts of water to thin out mucus and flush it out of your system. If your throat is irritated, singing becomes more difficult. This also means transitioning between different registers is challenging and can be a stressful experience. You’ll also need to spend more time warming up your voice to combat milk’s effects.
Should singers avoid milk in general?
Milk is bad for singers because it stresses your vocal cords. However, there are many health benefits to drinking milk, so we don’t suggest cutting it out from your diet altogether. Instead, avoid drinking milk on rehearsal and performance days. Reversing the effects milk has on your voice is time consuming and not worth the extra pressure on your vocal cords.
Is honey good for a singing voice?
Honey is known to be good for a singer’s voice, particularly those with a sore throat. Honey is a soothing remedy that should be mixed with warm water or a herbal tea for best results.
You can also use honey straight, with no mixing; take a teaspoon of honey directly into the mouth and swallow.
By doing so, it will coat your throat, possibly giving you a smoother singing voice. It is said to help relieve vocal cords when sore and can reduce any pain if you’ve been singing too much.
What can I drink to make my voice clear?
Your voice is an instrument and should be taken care of just like you would tune a guitar or piano.
Professional singers will look to clear their throat as best they can before a performance, with many using drinks that will reduce mucus and congestion.
There are remedies you can buy from a pharmacy, but also certain drinks that will help you sign with a clear voice. These include this list of drinks that are good for your voice:
- Warm water with honey and lemon.
- Water just by itself.
- Decaffeinated tea.
You should avoid any type of drink that is non-hydrating or contains dairy (such as milk), alcohol, caffeine, or anything that can produce mucus and phlegm.
What’s your go-to drink for performance days? Water is the healthiest option, but we’re curious to know what you choose and whether you think milk is bad for singing.