October 24, 2013 by Nicole
Eating and training go hand in hand for athletes….and dance is athletic! What and when you eat can affect how you feel in class. You don’t want to start class underfed – you’ll probably end up feeling lightheaded, dizzy or sluggish and that’s no way to train. You want to feel strong and energetic all the way through class. It’s how you fuel up to push yourself.
You also don’t want to overdo it. The rule of thumb is a small snack 30 minutes to an hour before or if it’s a small meal, schedule that 2-3 hours before your workout/class. Either is reasonable, so do what’s best for you.
Anything you eat before class should be low-fat (because fat takes longer to digest) and offer you some simple carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Here are a few snack ideas:
- Fresh fruit, like an apple or banana
- Whole grain bread or crackers with peanut butter
- Oats, like old fashioned oatmeal
- Granola or energy/protein bar
You’ll notice that most of these are small enough to fit in your bag or easy to pick up on your way. If you’re not making your snacks at home, like the smoothies or the bars – no eye rolling, it’s actually pretty easy! – then you’ll want to keep an eye on the sugar and overall calorie count. It’s surprisingly easy to pack a lot of both into those items. You don’t want to go in on a sugar high, just to crash halfway through your class. And if you’re truly going for a snack, you don’t want to eat a meal’s worth of calories at snack time.
No conversation about food & exercise is complete without a hydration reminder. This is so important to feeling and performing your best. Make sure you bring in a water bottle and that you’ve hydrated throughout the day.
And if none of the snacks I mentioned sound awesome to you, a quick Google search will bring back hundreds of options to choose from. Men’s Health, Fitness and Prevention magazines (among others) frequently publish these kinds of articles with their best pre-workout recommendations, so you can take it directly from the experts. You can also always talk to your doctor or a certified nutritionist if you have specific dietary restrictions or concerns.
Do you make sure to eat before class? What’s your go-to snack?
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