Fueling Up for Your Dance
Some days are just crazy. The universe sends you multiple gigs, and maybe you have to do them after you’ve spent hours at your day job. Or maybe you’ve signed up for a full day of workshops. Whatever the reason, you’ll do your best job performing or learning if you are properly prepared for the experience. There are several ways you can prep for the best. For starters, keep yourself in good physical condition to handle this kind of workload. A regular cardio and strength exercise schedule to supplement your belly dance is your best long-term preparedness plan, and is, of course, a benefit to your overall health. Additionally, be sure to get plenty of rest in the day or two before your marathon dance day.
When your engine is primed and ready from exercise and rest, the next part of the puzzle is to know how to fuel it up to go the distance. 2 hours before your activity, plan to eat a meal that has a combination of protein, carbohydrates and a little fat to keep you from getting hungry again too quickly. If lots of fibrous veggies makes you feel bloated, you may want to avoid overdoing the salad or other vegetables. For me, eggs really do the trick – they keep me full for hours. How about a scrambled egg burrito or a frittata? In case you think you can’t do this – you can. Cheese, whole grain crackers and a piece of fruit. Some hummus with pita and veggies. I always have hummus in my fridge! Are you really in a time crunch? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread takes one minute to make and is portable!
If you are going to be doing back to back shows or workshops, refueling is key. Your muscles run on by the glucose in your blood, and also glycogen stores in the muscles themselves. These get depleted as we dance. They do restock when we eat again, but they do a much more efficient job of it in the 30 minutes after we stop activity. In other words, if you have a little snack that includes some easy to absorb natural sugars during this time frame, you will be better prepared for the next round. Adding a little protein here can help too. My favorite pick for this job is nuts and dried fruit. It’s easy to pack, not messy to eat in a costume and doesn’t feel bulky in my stomach. A half of an energy bar could be a good choice too – but be choosy about your bar. The Nutrition Diva has an excellent post on how to pick a good bar here. and while I’m at it, I highly recommend her podcast and blog for well-researched and very practical nutrition advice.
What I do not recommend, however, is the use of energy drinks and elixirs such as Red Bull, 5-hour energy and the like. These can make you spike and crash. Stick to real food, people. You’ll be sweating so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. There’s also no harm in a good old fashioned cup of coffee or tea. In fact, there is scientific evidence showing that caffeine 45-60 minutes prior to activity can help the body tap fat stores for endurance exercise. It was once thought that caffeine had a diuretic effect on the body, but we now know this is not true. Yay for coffee!
So keep up the exercise, get some sleep and plan to fuel up with good food and plenty of water and you’ll be ready for your next belly dance bonanza!
What’s your favorite pre-show meal or mid-gig snack? Share it in the comments below…