As promised…we continue to fill in more on the fitness/diet for dancers…read on
The diet of a dancer ideally must consist of about 55-60% carbohydrate, 12-15% protein, and 20-30% fat. During weighty working out and rehearsals the amount of carbohydrate should be augmented to about 65%. The reason is that carbohydrate in the major energy source in muscles. Ingested carbohydrate is broken down into simple sugars (glucose) in the digestive tract then stored in muscle in the form of glycogen, the primary fuel for energy production. Dancers who do not ingest sufficient carbohydrate in their diet will compromise their ability to train because of low muscle glycogen levels. They may feel more fatigued during classes and rehearsals.
To achieve a high carbohydrate diet, food choices should be complex carbohydrate (bagels, cereal, bread, English muffins, pasta, rice) rather than simple sugars, because complex carbohydrate has many micro nutrients associated with it (nutrient dense) while simple sugars are nutrient poor. The estimated carbohydrate need is 6-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.
In addition to meals, other times when carbohydrate ingestion is important are before, during, and after class, rehearsal, or performance. About 1-2 hours prior to these activities, a small carbohydrate snack should be consumed.
This will increase glucose levels in the circulation and “top-off” muscle glycogen stores. A carbohydrate snack, such as a bagel or commercially available “energy” bars, can provide the added boost needed for optimal performance. During long rehearsals it is also important to ingest some carbohydrate to maintain circulating levels of glucose to prevent fatigue. A good way to ingest this carbohydrate is in solution such as sports drinks that are specially formulated to contain the right amount of carbohydrate (6-8% glucose) to empty from the stomach quickly. Ingesting carbohydrate in a solution provides the added benefit of fluid replacement. After a period of dancing, the muscles require an adequate supply of carbohydrate to replenish the muscle glycogen stores. Because the fastest rate of glycogen re-synthesis occurs in the 2 hours following exercise, it is important to ingest carbohydrate as soon as possible after a long or strenuous exercise period to refill muscle stores and be ready for the next activity.