What Should Be on a Young Dancer’s Snack List?

Dancing uses up lots of energy and burns lots of calories. There are certain foods that give your dancers’ bodies what they need at specific times. These foods help them perform at high levels throughout and recover from intense class or rehearsal. It is a great idea to give your students’ parents suggestions on snacks that give students the nutrition they need to do their best.

Before class snacks (energy rich)

Purpose: Fuel up for maximum energy

Breakdown: 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein

Timing: 4 hours to 30 minutes before class

Why carbs + protein in this ratio?

The carbs provide energy for dancing at top levels and the protein fights off hunger.

Examples of snacks that provide this ratio:

  • 1 large apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup cooked steel-cut oats with 1 ounce shaved almonds
  • 1 whole-grain waffle with 1 tablespoon almond butter

You never want your dancers to start class on an empty stomach, so even if they are rushed, they should try to get an energy boost from such snacks as low-fat yogurt, granola bars, peanut butter, whole wheat bread or crackers, fresh fruit, cheese

If your student is eating a meal before dancing light soup or salad are good choices.

After class snacks (protein rich)

Purpose: Rebuild and replenish

Breakdown: 2:1 ratio of proteins to carbohydrates

Timing: within 30 minutes -1 hour after completing class

Why proteins + carbs in a reversed ratio?

The protein will to help rebuild the muscle tissue that became damaged while you were dancing and the carbs replace some of the energy used in dancing.

Examples of snacks that provide this ratio:

  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter on brown rice cake
  • 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese with ½ cup whole grain cereal + 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1 medium apple and 2 sticks low-fat string cheese

Hydration is important! Your dancers need to stay hydrated. Remind your dancers to drink plenty of water with pre-class snack – and to bring a water bottle with them to your studio.

When dancers eat can be just as important as what they eat. Going for long periods of time without fueling can cause loss of muscle mass and increased body fat percentages. This affects energy level and performance and can lead to undesirable body composition and susceptibility to injury.

Your students may choose from these snacks if they want to keep each snack under 100 calories:

½ plain whole wheat bagel

2 fig type cookies

20 mini-pretzels

1.5 slices of wheat bread

1 medium banana

½ banana with 2 tsp of peanut butter spread on it

1 large grapefruit

1 large apple

3 small peaches

25 seedless grapes

½ cantaloupe with large spoonful of whipped topping

½ cup sweetened applesauce with ¼ cup berries

½ cup cottage cheese with ¼ cup fruit

6 oz low fat yogurt (120 cal)

½ cup (4oz) ice cream (110 cal)

4 squares of graham crackers

20 yogurt raisins

1 piece string cheese and 5 crackers

1 cup orange juice

1 large orange (2 Clementines)

5 dried apricots

1.5 cups regular microwave popcorn

1 cup sweet red pepper slices with 3 tbs hummus

1 cup baby carrots with 1.5 tbs of ranch dressing

0.5 cups white rice with 10 endamames and soy sauce

12 almonds

20 peanuts

5 Triscuits

If you would like to provide your students with estimations for caloric intake, you can do so at this link on the Center for Dance Nutrition website. http://dancernutrition.com/nutrition-for-dancers.html

Sources: Pointe Magazine, About.com, Center for Dance Nutrition

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