Snacks for Dancers
Snacks should be a key component of your daily fuel plan in dance. It’s not always possible to fit in a full meal depending on your class or rehearsal schedule. To get from one meal to the next while maintaining your energy, snacks are essential.
Want to make sure you’re snacking smart? Click here and get your go-to guide to snacking for dancers. It includes quick tips, pre- and post-class snack considerations, and over 30 recipe ideas. Recipes are designated for pre- or post-class based on macronutrient content (though they may work for you at any time).
How many snacks should you eat?
The answer for you is going to depend on how much you’re dancing each day and how big your meals are. Dancers sometimes do better replacing a meal with a number of snacks. If this is the case, you might eat 2–5 snacks throughout the day (or more) depending on how many hours you’re dancing and performing.
As with all food considerations, this is completely individual. It’s also important to realize that some days you’ll eat more snacks than other days. Learning to be flexible with your food choices is important for long-term, balanced eating success.
Pack more snacks than you think you’ll need.
It’s much better to have too much than not enough. When you head to the studio for the day, be aware of thoughts around eating less. Dancers often tell me they pack less food because that’s a time they can control their intake. Then, the tendency is to go overboard or feel out of control with food once you’re back at home.
To avoid that common pitfall, pack more than you think you need. A lot more. Get a nice lunch box or keep your food in a fridge; you can save snacks you don’t end up eating for the next day. Having more than you think you need will also provide options.
Sometimes we pack snacks we think we should eat instead of what we’d truly enjoy eating. Any time this is your strategy, you may end up feeling deprived. This again can lead to overeating later as you’re searching for satisfaction.
Undereating, in general, is dangerous and won’t serve you in the long run.
As with all of your food, enjoy your snacks mindfully.
Tune into what you’re eating: chew slowly and taste each bite. Choose the snacks you want to eat when you want to eat them.
It’s tempting to eat snacks quickly when you have just a short break. Even in those moments, give yourself the time and space to sit down and taste what you’re eating. Take a quick moment to appreciate your food.
Eating mindfully is truly about enjoying your food more.
Timing your snacks for dance.
If you’re eating 2–3 hours prior to dancing, have a meal or larger snack—60 minutes or less, go with something smaller or even a smoothie as a snack.
When it comes to macronutrients, the general rule is to put some carb focus in your pre-class snacks. Carbohydrates are the most easily accessed source of energy for your body. After class, have a protein-focused snack to support muscle repair and recovery.
Some healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado) can be incorporated at either time. Before class, fats will provide greater satiety, and after class, they can absolutely be included to make your meal more satisfying.
Even though there’s potential benefit to a carb focus before and a protein focus after, you can still include a mix of protein, carbs, and fat in each snack. Pay attention to how different snacks make you feel, and adjust accordingly.
Research shows that overall macronutrient consumption throughout the day tends to be more important than eating specific macros at specific times.
Best foods for dancers to snack on?
Eat whatever snacks you enjoy!
Don’t limit yourself to traditional “snack” foods. Leftovers from any meal can provide a great snack. A snack might be half a sandwich or even a whole sandwich at times.
Packaged snacks are A-OK. It’s not realistic to think you’ll be able to make all your meals and snacks all the time. There are more and more nutrient-dense, healthy, and delicious pre-made snacks out there. Focus on ingredients instead of nutrition facts or calories.
Ready to take your snacking to the next level? The free snacking guide delves more deeply into snacks for dancers including nutritional science considerations and includes over 30 recipes!