Dance Nutrition & Healthy Eating...A Primer.

As an ongoing theme in our blog Northstar staff and blog contributors will commonly focus on the most talked about topic from dance moms.  Dance Nutrition and fueling a healthy dancer.  To perform at their best, dancers need to be well fueled for classes, rehearsals, and performances.

Before we get started you should know...Our goal is to share our knowledge and insight on maintaining a healthy lifestyle to improve dance performance.  The dance world is rampant with eating disorders and false ideas of what a dancers body should look like.  At no point is our emphasis nor should yours ever be on dieting, weight loss, calorie counting, or specific physical appearance goals.   You should always exercise your best parental judgement first and seek advice of a pediatrician if looking to make changes to your children's diets.

Now let's get started!  For today we will focus on a high level overview of nutritional tips to support an active dancer.  As we continue this blog we cover topics in more detail but for today a brief primer on dance nutrition as a whole...

Dance is unique in that it is both sport and art, and a dancers body dually serves as a instrument and machine.  Therefore, it is vital to fuel and dancer with proper balanced nutrition and hydration so they may continue to dance at their fullest potential and stay free from injury. 

What is "balanced nutrition" as it pertains to a dancer?

Same as anyone else really.  Eating the right mixture of high fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat.  It should noted that complex carbohydrates provide energy for the body and are a key component of a healthy breakfast.  A good example of healthy carbs that our bodies use efficiently and are high in vitamins and minerals would be whole grains, oatmeal, beans, legumes, and of course fruits and vegetables.

Lean protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, which dancers need due to the nature of their rigorous routines and practices.  Excellent sources of lean protein include chicken breast, Salmon, most white fish, beans, legumes, & tofu.   Fat is also important because it helps bodies adsorb vitamins, keeps joints strong, and provides satiety.  Good sources of fat include nuts, nut butters, avocado, hummus, olive oil, and Salmon. 

  • Try adding a light amount of clean fat to snack!  Try Apples with a light amount of all natural peanut butter.  A great snack to have 45-60 before dance class!

Hydration....WATER & MORE WATER!

For women the general guideline for water consumption is 2.7 liters per day and 3.7 for men.  It is VERY important for dancers to stay hydrated with water plain and soda, no sugary sports drinks, no vitamin water...just plain old boring water.  Dancers should be drinking water though out the day.  Soda's, Sports drinks, and processed juices provide tons of sugar and empty calories.  A dancer needs their calories from clean natural food not beverages that will later fail them in dance class. 

What and When are the best foods to eat?

We recommend having a meal 1 1/2 - 2 hours prior to dance or performances.  Doing so will give your body enough time to digest the meal with out giving you any discomfort during your time dancing.  The meal should be a proper ratio of carbs, protein, and clean fat.  Fat content should be low as fat is processed slower by the body.  An example of a good breakfast would be 1/2 cup of oatmeal (no sugar) made w/ skim milk or almond milk.  Add a tablespoon of raw nuts such as almonds with a side of non-fat Greek Yogurt.  Throw in a glass of water and maybe a cup of an all natural juice and you are good to go!  For lunch try a Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce, tomato, and avocado.  Don't like avocado?  Try skipping the mayo and adding all natural hummus! 

For a more detail read try this article

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