Dancers are artists, but they’re also athletes who must support their busy schedules with long-lasting energy.
From the foods you eat to how you eat and care for your mind and body, you can develop choices that impact your energy levels. Let’s discuss five key strategies for dancers seeking high energy to get them through their day and their performances.
Functional fuel for your diet.
Prioritizing healthy meal balance means incorporating a source of each nutrient within your food choices, especially your snack. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are all macronutrients that are essential to a busy dancer’s diet and each provide many benefits.
- Carbohydrates replenish muscle and help to fuel your movement. Carbohydrates come from many foods like bread, veggies, fruits, and sweets. Be careful about the sweets you consume, while you may get a quick burst of energy, you will crash.
- If you’re sluggish and tired midway through class, it may be time to add more balance to your snacks. Good sources of protein and fat will help. Protein provides the minerals and nutrients vital for muscle recovery and will keep you feeling full.
- Feeling hungry while dancing does not help your energy levels and will leave you feeling heavy. Healthy fats will help support feeling satisfied between meals. A balanced mixed that provides protein and fat with your carbohydrates is the goal. Excellent sources of both proteins and fats include string cheese, chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, hummus, guacamole, and nut butters.
Start hydrating early in the day and work to stay consistent. The first thing you should do when you wake it up is consume a large glass of water. Grab a reusable water bottle and attempt actively hydrate throughout your day.
PRO TIP: Don’t love water? Add some lemon, lime, or orange slices for flavor. This can also help with energy levels.
You can find your hydration from other sources too! While water contributes to a good portion of our fluid intake, specific foods can boost your hydration levels. Make a yummy salad or pack some snacks to munch on throug the day. Some things to include:
Focus on meal timing.
Dancers often know what foods are best for fueling their busy day, but many need help with timing, especially when it comes to snacking. When someone eats is just as important as what they eat. Going for long periods without properly fueling can affect energy levels and performance, and can leave dancers susceptible to injury.
Regular meals and snacks will help to keep your energy up without causing you to feel sluggish while dancing. Create a plan to scatter your meals and snacks into five or six eating times through the day.
Get quality rest.
Research shows that when athletes and dancers aren’t getting adequate sleep, coordination and balance suffer, leading to an increased potential for injury. In addition, your immune system is weakened, increasing your chances of getting sick. In a recent study, lack of sleep was shown to adversely affect reaction time and the ability to make quick decisions.
It can be challenging to get adequate sleep as a busy dancer. Especially when working around a rigorous training and competition schedule. Some ways dancers can improve sleep quality include:
- Optimizing your sleep environment – Your bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary, especially after a long day of school and dance. Keep it uncluttered and ensure it’s dark and cool; studies show optimal sleep temperatures are between 62 and 68 degrees.
- Stick to a schedule – Maintaining a consistent agenda can be challenging. However, finding consistency in sleep times can lead to a better night’s sleep.
- Create a relaxing nighttime routine – A soothing bedtime routine can help you relax and prepare your body and mind for sleep. Some things you can do include meditation-style breathing techniques, reading, journaling, or soaking in a warm bath.
- Limit electronics – Electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops emit blue light, interfering with our natural circadian rhythm. Avoiding screens before bed can help active dancers fall asleep faster and rest deeper.
Reevaluate your caffeine intake.
Too much caffeine can impact sleep and leave you feeling anxious and jittery. Aim for no more than two cups of coffee per day. Since caffeine is present in other foods and drinks, be mindful of caffeinated teas, sodas, and even chocolate intake.
Like warming up, proper nutrition and health management are vital to mastering your craft and keeping your energy high. Educating our dancers on how to improve their energy and longevity will set everyone up for success! Keeping our dancers mentally and physically healthy is extremely important at EDC. For more dance tips and essential class information, follow our informative blog and social media.