Prepare to compete: Last minute energy

Eden Prairie Pom Squad performs at the 2017 Best of the Best Showcase, hosted by the University of Minnesota Dance Team on January 6, 2017 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. Photo Credit: Matt Blewett/MN Dance News

Nutrition tip of the week – Carbohydrates: A simple way to boost peak performance

Dancers: Feeling fatigued? Can’t quite get that extra “pop” in your leaps? I know you’re motivated, now let’s put some fuel into that enthusiasm!

Food sources:

Pack a stash of healthy carbohydrates in your bag. Choose your favorites, but avoid refined sugars, empty calories, and high fat choices that lead to spikes and crashes. Some of my dance bag favorites are rice cakes, cooked sweet potatoes, raisins, apples, bananas, carrots, or quinoa.


A balanced approach is key! Recently low-carb diets have become a craze. Carbohydrate, however, is the primary fuel for dance! Most dancers need a 50-65% carbohydrate based diet (4-8 grams carb/kg body weight) (IADMS). Not sure what you are eating? Download a free diet tracking App. Write down everything you eat for 3 days. See where your percentage of carbohydrates falls.


You’re a dancer, not a marathon runner! Generally, dancers do not need to carb load like marathon runners do. Lean muscle mass and optimal performance are best preserved when you spread your carbohydrates out in 6-8 small meals per day.

Finish your main meal at least one hour prior to a practice or performance. For a quick energy burst, try about 15 g of carbohydrate 15 min prior to your rehearsal. See how you feel, and then adjust up or down from there to fine tune your carbohydrate timing for performance!

The bottom line:

Use the tips above to help balance your meals. Then have a quick carb on hand that will fuel your peak performance!

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Article by Meredith Butulis, DPT, MSPT, OCS, CIMT, ACSM HFS, NASM CPT, CES, PES, BB Pilates

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