To feel your best and to get the most out of classes it is important to understand what foods you need both before and after dancing to give you the energy you need! The main focus of this post is to cover what to eat and when for sustained energy when you need it most.
When to eat
Eating before you exercise is necessary to ensure you have enough energy when it comes time for your classes to begin. You need to allow time for your food to be absorbed before it turns into fuel, and it is recommended that you eat a light snack about 1 to ½ an hour before you dance. Eating too much may make your stomach feel heavy and can be uncomfortable. It is also recommended that you eat approximately 45 minutes after exercise as this is when your muscles will absorb the most nutrients. Note: if you have back to back dance classes make sure to pack a small snack to eat in between to keep your energy levels up.
What to eat
Two of the most important things for dancers to include in their diet are carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates are the body’s fuel source and protein helps to maintain steady energy levels over a period of time. By combining the two you can help improve not only energy levels, but concentration and focus which is essential for remembering those dance routines! Examples of healthy, easy and cheap snacks for dancers are as follows:
- Wholemeal bread with peanut butter or honey
- A handful of either walnuts or almonds
- VItaweats with cheese and tomato
- Hommus with Celery and Carrot
- Low Fat Yogurt
- Muesli Bars
For more snack ideas check out this great list http://www.dancernutrition.com/uploads/2/7/0/9/2709559/cdn_100_calorie_snack_ideas_pdf.pdf
Note: Sugary foods like lollies may seem like a good idea for a quick burst of energy, but it could lead to a drop in energy levels and won’t help with your muscle development and recovery.
Nutrition is important for dances of all ages and levels, whether you are a first time budding ballerina or you have your sights set on professional full time dancing! If you dance a few times a week after school make sure to pack your snacks to eat before and after dancing. If you are a full time student or are looking to pursue dancing as a career why not talk to your GP or a nutritionist for a personalised meal plan to help you with energy and muscle development.
Eating, as well as drinking plenty of water, is essential if you want to get the most out of dance and reach your goals for 2014. If you are interested in learning more read this great article by SHAPE http://www.actsafe.ca/wp-content/uploads/resources/pdf/dancernutrition.pdf .