Ask a Dance Dietitian: What Are the Best Snacks for Ballet Dancers?

January 19, 2024

What are the best snacks to have on hand for quick energy boosts between dance classes or rehearsals? —Clare

Even if they make an effort to eat regular meals throughout the day, many dancers struggle with energy slumps during long hours in the studio. While there may not be a single “best” snack that works for all dancers, there are elements you can use to transform yours—offering more than just a boost of energy now, but also one that will keep you feeling energized later.

First, aim for ingredients that include a combination of nutrients—carbohydrates and protein, specifically. Carbs are an energy powerhouse for your body and replenish glycogen, or energy stores, found in your muscles. Granola, breakfast cereals, fresh fruit, and crackers are examples of carbohydrate-rich foods. While fibrous carbohydrates (think whole grains) will provide you with longer-lasting energy, lower-fiber options like dried fruit and pretzels will boost your energy more quickly. Aim to include a variety of both, as each type of carbohydrate can be helpful. In addition, you’ll need a source of protein to help combat energy slumps. Yogurt, cheese, and jerky, along with plant-based ingredients like nuts, seeds, edamame, and hummus, are some examples.

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The best part about your snack plan is that it doesn’t have to be complex. Preparing enough snacks in the midst of a busy schedule is doable; prepacked options like fruit-and-nut bars and trail mix offer portable and energy-dense options. In addition to those, here are a few of my favorite snack combos to get you started:

  • Banana with peanut butter: This is a classic and effective choice. The banana’s natural sugars provide a quick energy burst, while the peanut butter adds protein and fats for fullness and energy that lasts longer.
  • Yogurt parfait: Yogurt isn’t just packed with protein, it’s also rich in probiotics to support digestive health. Top your yogurt with your favorite granola for a crunchy texture.
  • Hummus and pretzels: Hummus is a versatile dip rich in protein and fats. Pair it with pretzels for a dose of carbohydrates.

In addition to this, consider the timing of your snacks. Generally, try to eat every two to four hours; your snacks can be most helpful when it’s hard to eat a full meal between classes and rehearsals. You can even aim for snack-sized and energy-dense “mini” meals that incorporate the same balance of macronutrients discussed earlier.

The bottom line: Snacks are an essential component to your meal plan and even more crucial when navigating extra-long and intense dance days!

Have a question? Send it to registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Fine at [email protected]. She’ll be answering questions on Pointe+ each month. Ask a Dance Dietitian responses are for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for individual medical or mental health advice.