‘Dancing With The Stars’ Coach Jenna Johnson Shares Her Diet

Jenna Johnson and Adam Rippon on Dancing With The Stars

Getty ImagesKelsey McNeal via Getty Images

Dancing With The Stars‘ dance pro Jenna Johnson says that it took trying “literally everything” in order to find the right healthy diet for her.

“I ended up gaining a bunch of weight on a vegetarian diet,” Jenna tells WomensHealthMag.com. “I was so low in my iron and protein intake. Once I incorporated protein back into my diet, I started slimming down.”

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The ballroom dancer—who is paired with Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon on the current season of DWTS—adds that her relationship with food has changed dramatically over the years. “I was scared of food and had a terrible relationship with it. I would cut something out and then binge on it.” She says that she used to be “obsessed” with sugar, too.

Jenna Johnson from Dancing With The Stars portrait

Courtesy of Christine MacLeod / Jenna Johnson

“Looking at food as fuel has been a game changer for me,” Jenna says—and the attitude shift has helped her find an eating plan that works. “For me, what makes me healthiest and happiest and most powerful is a happy balance of non-processed food and a lot of protein. I need it for recovery and for my muscle.”

And despite her natural sweet tooth—”I could eat chocolate for every meal,” she admits—Jenna says she largely tries to keep added sugars out of her diet. “When I eat a lot of sugar, I feel so gross,” she says. “You feel so heavy, and you don’t feel as energized.” Not exactly ideal when you have to pull off crazy-intense dance moves with a smile.

Here’s what keeps Jenna fueled while filming DWTS:

Breakfast: Eggs, eggs, eggs

Jenna hits the gym first thing in the a.m. (to avoid that horrible feeling of working out on a full stomach), and then she has breakfast. “I’m on a huge egg kick right now,” Jenna says. “I eat a few eggs, and maybe some bacon. I also love oatmeal with fruit,” she says.

One thing not on her morning menu? Coffee. Instead, she sips on kombucha. “I found out about probiotics and that’s a huge game-changer for me,” she says. “Kombucha is great for digestion—I drink it at the beginning of the day and sip on it all day.”

Lunch: Chicken and leafy greens

“I always try to have a solid lunch,” Jenna says—meaning she’s not about to sip on a protein shake or load up on sugary drinks during the day. “My mom told me not to drink your calories!” Jenna says.

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So along with her plate of leafy greens and proteins like chicken or shrimp, she’ll drink a lot of water—a must for long rehearsal days. She says staying hydrated also helps her skin look its best, “and it keeps you fuller in a weird way.”

Snacks: Nuts and berries

“I love nuts,” Jenna says. “They’re easy to take with you and they’re good for you.” Any kind of nut will do, although her faves are “really salty almonds” and cashews. “I get a little Ziploc, and put salted almonds in it and a handful of blueberries. It’s perfect for on the go.”

She also loves a hardboiled egg as a pick-me-up, or carrots and hummus. “I know they’re a little bland!” she says. But they’re regular healthy staples for her to keep her energy up during long days of practice and performances.

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As for her favorite food of all time: “If I was stuck on a deserted island, I would have guacamole,” Jenna says.

Dinner: More protein (and something sweet)

Jenna Johnson Dancing With The Stars acai bowl

Christine MacLeod / Jenna Johnson

Jenna likes a dinner that’s not too big but not tiny either. “If I’m too full, I have worse sleep and feel bloated in the morning,” she says—not exactly ideal if you’re a dancer. “I’ll have a protein like chicken or quinoa or brown rice, and then always have a side of veggies,” she says. “Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are my favorites right now. If it’s a green color, it’s good for you.”

But just because she’s eating super healthy doesn’t mean dessert is off the table. “I always have to have something sweet for dinner,” Jenna says. “Dark chocolate is always great. There are also a lot of really good vegan desserts now that are natural and substitute with almond meal and coconut milk.”

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