Dancers are artistic athletes who use their bodies to tell a story and express their art through movement.
So, it’s crucial that they keep this essential tool in top shape by eating the right foods. Dance uses up a lot of energy and burns many calories, making what your dancers eat imperative in helping them master their art.
Certain foods give dancers’ bodies the nutrients they need at specific times. These foods help them perform at the highest levels and will help them recover from an intense class or a long day at a competition. Dancers must have the nutrition they need to perform their best, both in class and on stage. Want to make sure your dancer is snacking smart? Keep reading for the dancer’s ultimate snack list.
Hydration is key.
Hydration is just as important as healthy food choices! Dancers need to stay hydrated to help them push through classes or tough competitions and keep their muscles lubricated and bodies flexible. Dancers need to drink plenty of water before, during, and after dancing.
EDC dancer Lexi Deffinbaugh explains more, “The foods I eat are super important for a competition weekend and really for my entire dance week. I start drinking extra water two days before a competition to make sure I am really hydrated. That is a big thing for me. As for snacks and food, I eat a lot of nuts, yogurt, eggs, and fruit. Fruit is my favorite! Most of the time, I eat fruit for dessert instead of sweets. Sometimes sugar hurts my stomach, so I don’t eat a lot of it. My food makes a big difference to me. I can feel it easily if I don’t eat right, and it doesn’t feel good. So, I try hard to eat healthy foods.”
Plenty of water paired with healthy snacks will set dancers up for success!
Timing is everything.
Dancers often know what foods are healthy and best for fueling their busy day, but many struggle with timing, especially with snacks. When a dancer eats can be just as important as what they eat. Going for long periods without fueling properly can affect performance and energy levels and increase a dancer’s susceptibility to injury.
Dancers should keep a few snacks in their dance bag. Being prepared for mid-day classes or a long day of rehearsal is a great way to make sure they are dancing their best and simultaneously taking care of their bodies.
Before class snacks.
Dancers should never work on an empty stomach, so if snack time falls within 30-60 minutes before dancing, then consider an easily digestible carbohydrate to maintain your physical stamina. These snacks should be lower in fiber. Pretzels and fresh fruit are examples of smaller, easily digestible carbs that won’t leave your dancer feeling sluggish. Some other examples include:
- Dried or fresh fruit.
- Applesauce or a fruit smoothie pack.
- Homemade protein-packed “energy balls.”
- Apple and peanut butter.
- A fruit-based snack bar.
During class snacks.
If your dancer needs a snack in the middle of a long practice, rehearsal, or competition day. Here is a list of low-calorie snacks that are great for your dancers to keep in their dance bag:
- Mini pretzels.
- Seedless grapes.
- Low-fat yogurt.
- Graham crackers.
- String cheese.
- A small amount of microwave popcorn.
- Red pepper slices with some hummus.
- Carrots with ranch for dipping.
- Almonds or peanuts.
If there is little time between school and dance class, for example, getting an energy boost from snacks such as low-fat yogurt, peanut butter, granola bars, fresh fruit, or cheese are simple options. Something is better than nothing!
After class snacks.
Snacks after class should be rich in protein. Once dancers leave the studio, they need to start to rebuild and replenish muscle. To aid in the recovery process, implement a quality strategy of protein to carbohydrate ratio. The protein will help rebuild the muscle tissue that was damaged while dancing and the carbs replace the energy used during class.
The after-class snack should be timed anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour after class ends. Muscle recovery is significant for dancers who are taking classes multiple days during the week. Here are some snack ideas for dancers to have after class:
- Peanut butter on a rice cake.
- A fruit and protein smoothie.
- Cottage cheese with some whole-grain cereal.
- A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- An apple and a few sticks of string cheese.
Just like warming up or taking lessons, proper nutrition is key to mastering your craft. Educating our dancers on how nutrition can improve their skills and longevity will set everyone up for success!
Keeping our dancers mentally and physically healthy is extremely important to us at EDC. For more dance tips and essential class information, be sure to follow our informative blog and on social media.
Photo Feature: Lexi Deffinbaugh (Dancer/Model)
With a proper balance of eating well, hydrating often, and conditioning daily, our EDC dance athletes are able to perform above and beyond!