Doing a good job of fueling your dance performance is a continuous process. It’s critical to think about your nutrition needs all the time, not just in the weeks, days, and hours before a concert. However, there are several additional aspects that you should keep in mind when executing.
Even if you don’t have any impending performances, this fuel plan information is vital if you have any upcoming auditions, casting, or contests. You want to make sure you’re getting enough calories and nutrition without feeling weighed down before any of these events.
The weeks leading up to a performance…
It’s tempting—and I’ve been there, so I understand—to consider eating less as a show or audition approach. Because you’ve been conditioned to believe that smaller bodies perform better in dance, you could eat in an extreme or restricting manner before an important dancing chance.
Make every effort to resist the temptation. Even though it produces a short-term change in your body, it can have long-term unfavourable consequences. You will enhance your chances of suffering an injury as a result of your food consumption.
Tendinitis, muscular rips, and stress fractures are a few examples. You might get through the performance or audition, but an injury could happen soon after. Make sure you’re getting enough calories to avoid harm.
Adopting a sustainable approach to your pre-performance fuel strategy can also make you feel better psychologically and physically. A short-term restrictive diet does not produce long-term outcomes, but it can result in injury, which can have a long-term influence on your dancing and profession. If you’ve extended your rehearsal hours in preparation for a performance, your body will demand more nourishment than usual.
The days leading up to a performance…
Before you even consider meals, make sure you prioritise sleep. You’ll need more sleep to do your best dancing and feel your best. Teen dancers require up to 12 hours of sleep each night, however, most dancers, being highly active athletes, require 8–10 hours per night.
Depending on your schedule, you may not have time for larger meals in between rehearsals. Snacks are your best buddy throughout both hard rehearsal times and performances. Get a free snacking guide with 30 recipes and snack ideas to get you started.
2–3 hours before dancing…
There are various things to consider with your dietary choices in the few hours before dancing. You’ll want to include fuel that helps you maintain your energy, improve your performance, stay hydrated, maintain muscle mass, and aid in recovery. Here are some macronutrient suggestions to help you meet each of your performance goals.
Protein. Consuming protein during this period will reduce muscle injury and aid in muscular building. At this time, whole food protein sources can be extremely beneficial. Protein powder is not required for ease of digestion. Even if you consume some whole food protein a few hours before dancing, you should be fine.
Protein food sources consider lentils, chicken, eggs, tofu, tempeh, fish, yoghurt, nuts, and quinoa.
Carbohydrates. Incorporating complex carbohydrates will increase your energy and aid in post-dancing recuperation. They will preserve muscle and liver glycogen and increase insulin release. Combining carbs and protein at this time improves your body’s ability to generate proteins and prevents their breakdown.
Quinoa, brown rice, oats, lentils, chickpeas, whole grain bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are all complex carbohydrate dietary options to consider.
Fats. The biggest advantage of eating lipids 2–3 hours before dancing is that they slow digestion, which can help you stay full and active for longer by keeping blood glucose levels stable.
Nuts, nut butter, avocado, egg yolks, oils, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds are all good sources of fat.
Important Note- Dancers must be aware of their fat intake, as excess might make it difficult to achieve their carbohydrate requirements. “Excessive fat consumption at a specific meal will impair the dancer’s ability to execute completely in class immediately following the meal because it sits in the stomach for several hours.”
This is not to say that you should avoid eating fat. This entails taking into account the time of your dietary fat consumption.
30–60 minutes before dancing…
As you move closer to your performance, audition, or competition, you should be more conscious of the foods that work best for you. That is where the experimentation in the days and weeks preceding performance demonstrates its true worth. You’ve worked out which quick fuel options excite you without making you sluggish.
You want something that doesn’t need much labour from your body or digestive system because you have less time to digest. In the days preceding up to your performance, you might enjoy a smoothie or shake. Keep it simple by using plant milk, protein powder, berries, banana, and flax seeds or nut butter.
Sugars are a fantastic alternative in this brief time before dancing. Include sources of glucose, the simplest form of sugar found in meals such as bread, pasta, and fruit.
Dates, bananas, berries, dried fruits, grapes, or honey are all good sources of fast energy.
This can be difficult with stage rehearsals and tech week. Most companies will at least set later call times to allow for some rest after a late night. Make the most of it! Sleep can help you feel energised and prepared to perform. It’s also critical to control the hormones that control hunger and fullness.
Final thoughts on your pre-performance dancer fuel plan…
Food should be your fuel before a performance, and you should probably include some convenience options as well. If you’re working on increasing the variety and flexibility of your dietary options, performance time should be no different. There is no single optimal method to eat in the days or weeks before a big dance performance. Follow the steps to find out what works best for you. You’re working hard and putting a lot of strain on your body. Supportive fuel is required.