Competition nutrition

It’s summertime, and that means one thing—Nationals! During prime competition season, it’s critical to stay strong, healthy, and energized in order to excel at your competition routines and make it through class after class at all those conventions. While it’s easy to purchase fast food and vending machine snacks throughout the weekend, you’ll fuel your body—your instrument—better if you nourish it with proper nutrition. You don’t need to pack your meals every single day, but you can learn to make healthier and more thoughtful choices. Here are a few tips to keep you fueled and feeling your best for competition this summer.

Before a long day of convention classes:

Start your morning right with a hearty bowl of oatmeal topped with sliced banana, chopped walnuts, and skim milk or a toasted piece of whole wheat bread topped with half a mashed avocado and a poached egg. Both options will keep you satisfied with healthy fats and lasting carbohydrates to set you up for a full day of dancing.

For days you’re running late:

It’s okay to grab something convenient—so long as it’s still healthy! Coffee, candy, and energy drinks may give you a burst of energy, but you’ll feel sluggish when that sugar high wears off. A single-serving pack of trail mix, a KIND bar, or a container of Greek yogurt are all quick but conscientious choices when you’re rushing out the door.

When you feel bloated in your costume:

While you feel like you’re retaining water, the best way to “de-bloat” is by drinking more water. Sipping on peppermint, ginger, and chamomile tea will help ease bloating and discomfort. Avoid processed snacks, artificial sweeteners, chewing gum, and eating lots of raw vegetables an hour or so before you perform.

If you’ve got butterflies in your stomach:

Eating foods high in folate and B/C vitamins can help to ease pre-performance anxiety. Snack on a few almonds, a handful of blueberries, or a small square of dark chocolate to keep your nerves at bay.

To combat injury or illness:

When your body is fighting extra hard to recover, it’s even more critical to fuel it well. Stay away from refined sugars, caffeine, and processed foods that all contribute to inflammation. Reach instead for a dark green kale salad, a cup of bone broth soup, and fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

When you’re feeling sore:

You’ll be happy to know that a cup of low-fat chocolate milk is the perfect post-workout recovery snack! Also be sure to load up on potassium-rich foods such as raisins, melons, apricots, avocado, squash, beets, and bananas.

At the end of competition day:

It’s important to refuel your body so it can repair itself overnight. Pair up a little protein with a healthy carbohydrate—a banana with a tablespoon almond butter, an apple and a string cheese, or baby carrots dipped in hummus.

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