Nutrition and Diet

By Hannah Macri

For young children, diet and nutrition are very important factors that need to be considered and incorporated into routines to promote healthy growth of muscles and bones, as well as sustaining the energy required for intense physical exercise. It is imperative to have a thorough understanding of the importance of diet and nutrition to help benefit their growing bodies.
Why is nutrition so important?
For young performers, the formative years are crucial as their bodies are still developing. For that reason, children require the right nutrients to nourish their systems and aid in this growth. Good nutrition has been proven to increase energy levels, boost muscle and bone strength, prevent injuries and increase focus and attention span. Along with this, correct sports nutrition can decrease fatigue and enable athletes to recover faster. All these factors play a vital role in the development of a great young performer who is strong, happy, and healthy.
Proper Diet and Nutrition for Performers:
To be properly fuelled for classes or performances, it is important that performers have a healthy diet full of nutrients needed to support growing athletes. Consuming too few nutrients will compromise your energy level and may affect your ability to perform at your best.
To maintain a healthy diet, some of the important nutrients for an athlete to consume are:

  • Carbohydrates:
    Carbohydrates are very important for energy release. For a dancer and performer, carbohydrates are one of the most important nutrients because they break down into glucose which quickly fuels muscles. Without glucose, often dancers can suffer muscle fatigue which could lead to injury if taken too far.
  • Proteins:
    Proteins are important for a young athlete as they help develop muscle strength and repair used muscle tissue. If a performer does not have enough protein in their diet, often they can be more prone to injury and will take longer to recover.
  • Calcium:
    Calcium is important nutrient that helps a performer with injury prevention. Having calcium in the diet promotes strong bones, healthy brain function and healthy muscle function.
  • Water:
    Staying hydrated is essential as it increases energy, improves movement and recovery as well as aiding in mental activity. Performing strenuous exercise causes the body to sweat, which over time causes the athlete to dehydrate. This means it is essential to drink water continuously throughout the day to replace the loss.

Diet and Nutrition in Pre-Performance:
In pre-performance, it is very important for a young student to be thoroughly nourished prior, to perform at the best level possible. Generally, the best time to eat pre-performances is about three to four hours before to ensure for proper digestion and release of nutrients. It is also important that there are healthy snacks available to be eaten throughout the day to keep energy levels up.
Healthy snacks could include:

  • Yoghurt and Granola
  • Fruit
  • Trail Mix
  • Rice Crackers
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts

Young dancers and performers require constant nourishment to get the most out of their bodies. To fully develop into good athletes, a balanced diet with nutritional foods is highly desirable.
Having a thorough understanding of nutrition is imperative for a young athlete as they learn to get the best from their bodies. This also encourages children to lead a healthier lifestyle which makes them stronger and more energetic performers.