How to Maintain Your Dancer’s Energy Level
Serious dancers are athletes challenged to have high levels of energy for prolonged periods of time.
Dancers are often over-scheduled, have stressful lives, and suffer from a lack of quality sleep and poor eating habits. These factors lower energy levels.
Fatigue breaks us down physically and emotionally, and it wreaks havoc on the immune system.
All of these factors make dancers—indeed anyone—more susceptible to illness, depression, and even chronic conditions, especially the inflammation that leads to injuries.
There a many things you can do to help your dancer avoid such problems.
Eat Predominantly Nutrient-Dense Foods
The body converts food to energy and this requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Every cell in our body can unlock its energy potential with the proper fuel from food.
If your son doesn’t get enough nutrients from foods, he will suffer from sub-optimal cellular energy metabolism, making him feel tired and sluggish.
The best way to combat this is to choose foods that have a lot of nutrition per calorie. Nutrient-dense foods are high in the antioxidants needed to protect cells. These include vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, and lean animal proteins.
Use Nutritional Supplements
Even if your son eats well, it is nearly impossible to get all the vitamins and minerals you need from your food. Therefore, it is critical to take High quality antioxidants and vitamin/mineral supplements.
Supplements are not created equally. Choose one made
• With high-quality manufacturing from a science-based company.
• By a company that manufactures their own products in their own manufacturing facilities where they control the entire process, from raw ingredient to finished supplement.
• From a company that voluntarily has a facility that is certified to be in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) identical to pharmaceutical GMP and meets the requirements set forth by NSF International, and is a registered U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Drug Establishment.
There are only a few supplement companies that meet these standards. USANA Health Sciences is the highest-rated company. Click here for more information.
Focus on Omega-3s
Studies show that diets high in omega-3 fats improve mood, memory, thinking, focus, and energy.
Your son should try to ingest at least one excellent source of omega-3 fats a day: fish, flax seeds, avocadoes, flax oil, hemp seeds, hemp oil, leafy greens (think big salad), or walnuts.
Omega-3 supplements such as fish oil, can help add what he doesn’t receive from the healthful diet you provide. (USANA’s BiOmega will do the trick.)
Make Breakfast a Priority
Skipping breakfast hurts us in the long run. Studies show that a good breakfast gets your metabolism going and will help keep you energized and alert for three to four hours. Skipping breakfast tells the body it is starving. This causes it to conserve energy instead of revving up.
Replace processed foods like donuts, pastries, white bagels,
cereal, and waffles with healthier options including lean protein, fresh fruit, whole grains, nuts/seeds, whole grain bread with nut butter.
Enjoying a steady supply of food every three hours helps keep your blood sugar level and your energy level up. Letting yourself get too hungry causes your blood sugar to crash, leading to feelings of sluggishness and, often, cravings for junk food.
Your son should eat often, but it is important to choose his snacks wisely. Real food is the best source of real energy.
Combine complex carbs with protein and fat to provide lasting energy. The fiber, protein, and fat slow the release of sugar into the blood, helping to prevent energy dips and overeating.
Some great snack ideas include:
• a mix of nuts and dried fruit (about one half ounce of each)
• a container of plain yogurt topped with 2 tablespoons of flax seeds and berries
• 10 nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
• 3 cups of air-popped popcorn tossed with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt
• 5 baby carrots or celery sticks and a quarter cup hummus
• a half cup of berries and an ounce of walnuts
• whole grain crackers or kale chips with tomato salsa
• a small apple sliced and dipped in 2 tablespoons of almond butter
Drink for Energy
Proper hydration is a very easy and effective way to keep your son’s energy high. The body needs water, and lots of it, to function optimally.
Keep a fresh and ready source of water with your son at all times, and have him sip at least 8 ounces every 2 hours. Make sure he totes a reusable bottle with him wherever he goes.
Use Caffeine Wisely or Not at All
After a soda with caffeine, traditional energy drinks, or a cup of coffee, it feels as if you are getting an energy boost. But it isn’t true energy—it is a drug effect.
You feel a short-term boost, but this backfires when the drug wears off. At that point the body realizes it has no real energy source, and the result is exhaustion and hunger, typically followed by overeating.
Caffeine can be used occasionally as a temporary stimulant, but overuse and reliance over the long term can be problematic.
An “energy drink” which uses green tea and supplementation can effectively be used by athletes—even younger boys. Many athletes and dancers, like my nephew Julian, use USANA’s Rev3 energy drink, which they say enhances their performance.
Get Enough Sleep
Adequate rest is necessary for the body to recharge and repair.
Eight hours of sleep continues to be the suggested minimum. Take your son’s need for sleep seriously.
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