Fuelling Your Energy
Author: Leah Van Lambaart Date Posted:26 July 2019
Fuelling Your Energy
Whether your dancing once a week or 5 days per week, preparing your body with the right fuels for your classes and performances is vital for increasing strength, power and injury prevention. Here are 3 key points to focus on each day that will help you get the most out of your training
Low energy, headaches and cramping are all signs that your body needs more (or less) water. But how much water should we be drinking?
We are all very unique and so is the amount of water we need. This changes from day to day. One very simple and quick sign of hydration levels is the colour of our urine. Yep, our wee!
By midday, our urine should appear as a pale, straw colour. Lighter than this can indicate we have had too many fluids. When we are over hydrated, we are flushing away important electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. These are found both inside and outside each cell and are required for several actions around your body, one of which is muscle contraction. Something which a dancer and an athlete relies on. Losing these electrolytes may lead you to feel heavy, fatigued and often unable to effectively recover.
You’ll notice when you first wake up, as we typically haven’t had water overnight our urine colour is darker than a pale, straw colour. By midday, if it has not lightened in colour, it may indicate we haven’t had enough water, or are possibly becoming dehydrated. Our body is unable to flush out toxins and hydrate cells, we may start to experience brain fog, cramping and headaches.
Your drink bottle in class should be filled with filtered water and on bigger training days, competition or performance days, include a pinch of salt (pink or sea salt). You simply sip a small mouthful every 15 minutes or so to help maintain the electrolytes required to replace what we lose during exercise.
Daily habits to easily help to boost your hydration levels include drinking a big glass of water, each morning as soon as we get out of bed. Adding a little squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, or warming the water slightly might make it easier for us to drink. Switch your soft drinks, fruit juices and flavoured milk drinks to plain water. If you don’t enjoy the taste, add berries, cucumber, orange, lemon or kiwi fruit to your water bottle. Another easy way would be to include more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet, as these foods contain much more water and are often naturally packaged with the electrolytes that we often lose with exercise.
It’s so very important to get a restful sleep. Your entire body including your muscles are recovering and rebuilding during your sleep. If your consistently having a restless and disrupted sleep, your body and muscles never get a chance to restore and recover. This may not only affect your next dance class or performance but your ability to improve and refine your skills.
Your phone, laptop and TV all have a type of light called blue light. If you look up to the sky in the day time the sky will be, yep you guessed it, blue! This light tells our brain to “wake up!” and “stay alert!”. When the sun goes down, we are exposed to a more red light and our brain will start to produce chemicals that help us wind down and sleep. We call this our circadian rhythm, it moves with the sunshine.
So what happens if you're exposed to this blue light after the sun goes down? Your brain is still telling your body "wake up!" and "stay alert!". Looking at your phone, a TV or even your computer screen within 1 hour of going to bed, your body may be unable to make those chemicals needed to wind down. If you fall asleep quite easily, your sleep may be still be disrupted and disturbed without you even noticing. Here is where your fatigue might be coming into play! It may be harder to get out of bed in the morning, harder to stay awake during the day, contributing to fatigue. And then… you do it all over again the next day, where this vicious cycle continues.
So, what do you do? Put down your phone, switch off the TV or tablet and close your laptop 1 hour (preferably up to 3 hours) before going to bed. Instead of using your device, find a notebook or journal and write down 10 things you loved about your day. You do not have to show anyone or tell anyone out loud, this is just for you! If this doesn’t suit, try to read a book or even draw in a sketchbook. All of these tasks help your brain wind down and relax, preparing your body for a restful nights sleep and that means an energetic and productive day ahead, recovered muscles and enough brain power to get you through your next dance class.
Eating Real Food
When reading the ingredients list on the back of your packaged food, it is often hard to read. As hard as it is for us to read and understand the ingredient list, it is even harder for your body! When our body doesn’t know these ingredients it becomes bogged down and difficult for our body to digest, causing our body to feel heavy and tired. Long term, our body will become inflamed, lacking nutrients and therefore the risk of fatigue and injury may increase.
A very easy way to include more real whole foods include picking packaged foods that contain less than 5 ingredients (hopefully ingredients you can read!). Swap packaged snacks to a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, or help make your main meals at home rather than buying them out. There is a saying ‘you are what you eat' and considering this, real whole unpackaged foods are perfectly balanced with macronutrients and micronutrients that our body can easily breakdown and use for things like energy, recovery and repair.The easier our body can digest and utilise our food the lighter we will begin to feel and more energetic and powerful we become. Brain fog will begin to lift, concentration levels improve and memory problems will become a thing of the past!
Lastly, a quick and simple recipe for delicious CHOCOLATE POWER BITES that is the perfect snack pre-class or performance. Containing healthy fats and fibre to keep you full, natural carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle repair. Eat 1 ball with 1 piece of fruit, 2 hours before training to enhance energy or within 1 hour after training to support recovery.
Chocolate Power Bites
Hope you enjoyed this week’s content and you can gradually begin to implement some of these strategies to fuel your next class or performance.
Leah Van Lambaart for Total Dance Australia
Thanks for reading team @leahvanlambaart