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The Performer’s Diet

The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak… and low on energy. A body that lacks fuel is like a new Porsche with an empty tank – it may look good, but it’s not going to take you anywhere.

I’m not just talking about replenishing calories here – there’s a whole plethora of nutrients your muscles need to keep running smoothly. The internets are full of advice for a dancer’s diet – but who are these little heroes, and how do they keep that dance body running smoothly?

Carbohydrates – Unlike simple sugars, these complex molecules gradually share their sweet goodness over time, so your body can run longer without risk of fatigue.

Amino Acids (or ‘Protein’ for the lay-person) – While high-protein diets have been villain-ized recently, they’re still important fuel for a dancer’s muscles. Combining protein with carbs prevents sugar levels from peaking and crashing, so that energy is available even longer.

Essential fatty acids – All muscles get worn and torn over time, and these guys are an important part of the repair process, not to mention keeping any inflammation down.

Antioxidants (vitamins A,C, and E) – With exercise activities like dancing, certain nasty elements, called ‘free radicals’ are produced, which damage our cells and increase risk of cancer and heart disease, amoung others. Antioxidants act as natural defenders in your body, especially when derived from real foods rather than supplements.

So, how much of each should we consume? Here’s what one expert suggests:

A dancer’s diet should be composed of about 55-60% carbohydrate, 12-15% protein, and 20-30% fat. During heavy training and rehearsals the amount of carbohydrate should be increased to about 65%. The reason is that carbohydrate is the major energy source in muscles.

And by the way, did you know that hydrating is a great way to reduce muscle soreness? I’m not kidding – water and the electrolytes that come with it play a key role in flushing out the toxins that cause that less-than-pleasant aching feeling.

Well, that showcase is getting closer. But don’t let the anxiety get to you – next time, we’ll explore ways to calm those nerves leading up to and on the big day.

Sources

Don’t Fear Carbs – They Can Be a Dancer’s Best Friend
Good Nutrition for Dancers
Nutrition for Dancers
Protein Needs of Dancers
Why Antioxidants Aren’t as Healthy as You Think
Why Are Carbohydrates Important for Athletes?

 

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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