Time Your Carbs Right

August 30, 2016

You’ve heard it before: Don’t avoid carbs. They’re the primary source of energy in our muscles, and without enough, dancing will tire you out quickly. But how many carbs should you be eating and when? The International Association for Dance Medicine & Science offers some helpful guidelines.

How much:
Typically, dancers should aim for a diet that’s 55 to 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 to 30 percent fat and 12 to 15 percent protein. Boost your carb intake to closer to 65 percent during heavy rehearsal or performance weeks to keep your muscles well stocked.

Best sources:
While gummy bears and kale both have carbs, they obviously don’t deliver the same benefits. Overprocessed or simple sugars don’t offer vitamins, minerals or fiber. Focus on whole grains as well as foods made with them, like oatmeal, bread and pasta, plus vegetables, fruit and beans.

Before dancing:
An hour or two before class starts or the curtain rises, top off your glycogen stores with a small carbohydrate snack, such as a banana or an energy bar.

While dancing:
During long, strenuous rehearsals, you’ll need to refuel your carb stores to keep up your energy. IADMS suggests having a sports drink with glucose (check the ingredients list), which empties from the stomach quickly and also rehydrates you.

After dancing:
If you’ve had an intense rehearsal or performance, have another carb-based snack or meal within two hours of finishing—during this time, your muscles are primed to replenish their glycogen stores, preparing you for tomorrow.