Whether you realize it or not, dancers exert a large amount of energy during a night of class and/or rehearsal. You can burn close to 400 calories per hour depending upon your weight, height, and age — so if you dance 3 hours in a night, you could be looking at 1200 calories!!
In order to maintain a healthy body weight and to keep your muscles, bones, and other body parts working hard for you throughout the night, it is important to give your body the proper fuel it needs.
Because of the nature of the exercise, dancers bodies require more carbohydrates than the average person. Ideally, 65% of your diet should be made up of carbs, 12-15% protein (super important in order to repair the breakdown of muscle fibers), and 20-30% healthy fats (like nuts, avocados, and salmon). Carbohydrates can be found in many foods, however the most valuable carb-rich foods are whole grain bagels, cereals, breads, pastas, rice, and baked potatoes.
On nights when you have dance class or rehearsal, remember to keep your body fueled throughout the evening:
- Grab a high-carbohydrate snack 1-2 hours before class time
- Bring snacks like low-fat yogurt, granola bars, peanut butter, nuts, fruit, or cheese to snack on in-between classes or on breaks for a quick energy boost.
- Be sure to stay hydrated!! A sports drink formulated with carbohydrates is a great choice as it will replenish your energy level and replace the fluids which you have lost through sweat. (8 ounces of fluids are recommended every 15 minutes, or whenever there is a break in class!)
- And finally, be sure to get another serving of carbohydrates as soon as possible after class is over to replenish your body’s stock.
~ Miki Hegg, Assistant Director, ECSOD