School, dance, homework, sleep – we KNOW how busy a young dancer’s life can be! From changing in cars to grabbing meals on the go, we’ve all been there. When you’re constantly on the move, your body is looking for fuel. Not sure what to eat? We’ve got you covered. BUT, before we get started on what kind of snacks are great for dancers, let’s talk about how important it is to eat before dancing!
Why do dancers need to eat before class?
The physical activity that comes along with dancing is actually very similar to high-intensity interval training—you’re stopping/starting quite a bit throughout the class. This means you’re pushing yourself to the max with small breaks in between, burning calories, and using a TON of energy. And where does our energy come from? The foods we eat!
In order to compensate for all of the working out, increasing your heart rate, and sweating, you’ll need to fuel your body with certain types of food so that you can perform to the best of your ability even during the height of physical exertion. Foods that contain whole grain and protein are perfect for preparing the body to dance. Protein is broken down into amino acids, which help build muscle. Both protein and whole grains slow down glucose absorption in your body, helping create sustained energy throughout the day.
Instead of skipping the snack between school and dance class, there are always quick, easy, and healthy options that you can have in the car or while you’re waiting to get into the studio!
What kind of snacks should dancers be eating?
Snacks that contain whole grains will help provide stable energy throughout your rehearsals, performances, and more.
- Whole-grain crackers
- Peanut butter bars / whole-grain bars
Easily digestible carbs can help you avoid feeling sluggish while still filling you up.
- Fresh fruit like bananas, clementines, apples, oranges
- Fruit-based snack bar
- Pretzels and peanut butter
- Dried fruit and nuts
Protein-packed food is great for before or after class, as it helps prevent muscle soreness.
- Greek yogurt
- String cheese
- Boiled egg
- Sliced avocado
- Fresh vegetables and hummus
What time should you eat before class?
Much like avoiding a huge meal before running, you should do the same for dancing. Eating 30-60 minutes prior to physical activity is a good choice, so your body has some time to digest and break food down into immediate energy. What about after? Definitely don’t skip a meal when you get home from rehearsal or class. Taking time to have a healthy meal after physical activity will help your muscles begin to replenish.
Don’t skip the water!
Okay, we’ve been talking about food but we can’t forget to give water its time to shine! Water is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle, especially if you’re a dancer. In addition to healthy snacks before and after class, staying hydrated will help with energy, mood, and mental fatigue. If you’re looking for something a bit tastier than natural water, unsweetened coconut water is a great option for drinking—the electrolytes and added potassium can help prevent muscle cramping!
Overall, a great way for choosing the best snacks for your dancer is by paying attention to what’s real and what’s not. “Real food” options like fresh fruit, veggies, or simple ingredient snacks like whole-grain crackers are best for sustaining energy over a long period of time without feeling too full.
Every dancers’ body is unique, so we encourage you to listen to yours and find what feels best! If you know a snack or meal that makes you sluggish, try to avoid it and opt for foods that always energize you.