Most dance classes require a ton of energy, focus, and strength. Dancers and teachers need to be fuelling their bodies in a healthy way so as to be able to bust a move.
Having a good snack before and after can really help with muscle soreness, cramps, energy levels, attention span, and comfort. You may want to adjust how much or little is consumed depending on how many classes are taken in a row and how physically demanding they are. This applies to little ones taking dance classes as well.
What to avoid before dance classes:
Sugar highs or crashes make focusing very difficult on anyone. (Be nice to your dance teacher too!)
Food that is difficult to digest and low in protein sucks up energy.
When dancers are too full it can make them lethargic, nauseous, or cramp easily.
Soda is just bad in general because it can cause dehydration and add unnecessary sugar to the body.
These types of foods can easily cause an upset stomach, bloating, or gas while dancing.
Not eating at all before Dance classes:
Feeling hungry in the middle of dance class is distracting, hard on the body, and can cause fatigue. You want your dancer to pay attention in class to get your money’s worth, right?
Do we need to say more? Smoking or second hand smoke makes it that much more difficult to breathe properly and is terrible for dancers in general. One’s endurance and overall health will suffer greatly from smoking or being exposed to it regularly.
One more thing:
Be careful with energy drinks, sports bars and sport drinks. There is a huge stereotype that these are needed for exercise but they are completely overused and not usually necessary. Many of them are highly processed, difficult for the body to digest, and loaded with sugar. Check the nutrition labels to find the healthy and natural options.
What dancers should eat and drink before classes:
Protein provides the body with energy that it needs and can be filling in small amounts without making the dancer feel too full.
Fruit and vegetables:
These can be light, healthy snacks to give you just what you need to get through dance class. Try mixing them with a little dairy or protein for more energy.
Good carbs help fuel the body for long periods of time.
Drink plain old water before, during and after class to avoid dehydration and fatigue.
Plenty of potassium can help with cramping and muscle soreness if the dancer is really pushing their body hard. Good examples include peanut butter and banana, apple with cheese, half of a tuna sandwich, veggies with a yogurt dip, avocado on wheat toast or a small smoothie.
What to eat or drink after dance classes:
Hydrating after class flushes out toxins, helps with muscle soreness, and prevents dehydration.
Fresh fruits are good to eat after you dance because your body uses so much glucose during high levels of exercise. Fresh fruit will help replace that and aid in muscle development. Not to mention, fresh fruit juice is refreshing, light, and yummy!
Avoid muscle cramping and soreness by eating raisins, potatoes, bananas, tomato products, cooked spinach and yogurt, all of which are high in potassium.
Refuel the body after expending so much energy by consuming meats, nuts, cheese or beans.
If we treat our bodies right, we can expect better results during dance class. It is important to encourage healthy eating habits in dancers so we help prevent harmful eating disorders. When dancers are unhealthy, they are more prone to injury, fatigue, soreness, stress and stagnation with their development. If you see unhealthy habits at your studio, please speak up. Stay fit, focused and strong the healthy way.