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What to drink on a dance practice day or at competition?

Elena Anashina Photography

Should I drink water, juice or a sport drink during my dance practice or competition? In this post you will learn the difference between types of drinks available and which ones are the best for maximum performance and health.

There are hundreds of articles on the correct nutrition for dancers. However, you will not find very much information on what to drink during your practice sessions or competitions. The following will help you make an informed decision on what you should bring with to your next practice or competition.

During dance practices we sweat to regulate the temperature of our bodies. However, sweating causes loss of water and electrolytes which may result in dehydration. We also use up carbohydrates (sugars) to help us move with great energy. This means we need to find ways to replenish water, carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Sports drinks are made up of the following ingredients:

- water

- salt

- other electrolytes

- sugars (glucose and its derivatives)

What are sugars and salts for in sports drinks? They actually help your body absorb water. Secondly, electrolytes (sodium and potassium) will help retain more water and reduce urine output.

Drinking just plain water causes bloating which in turn reduces your thirst. It contains negligible amounts of electrolytes (which increases urine output) and no sugars.

Should I drink fruit juices during practice? These may initially seem a good and nutritious choice however they may not be as beneficial. Juices contain a lot of fruit sugar (fructose) which reduces absorption of water so your body doesn't get hydrated quickly.

What if I love fizzy (carbonated) drinks? Sadly, they are not as good during your sweaty practice sessions. Fizzy drinks contain caffeine which increases your urine output. They also cause bloating that stops your thirst (even if your body still needs extra hydration).

What's the final choice?

Plain water can help and replace the fluids lost through sweating, however, it will not replenish electrolytes or carbohydrates. It will also give you a feeling of fullness and increase urine output. Perhaps not the most desirable on a competition day.

Sports drinks are not shown to hydrate your body better than water, however they help to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes. This in turn can boost your energy levels and keep you going for a few more dances without feeling bloated.

Lucozade sport is most often used because it tastes great and does what it says on the label.

It is best to use sports drinks during or after high intensity dance training or dance events. However, water may be a better option for those who are not involved in high-intensity dance sessions (e.g. finals practice or competitions).

If you are interested in this topic, you may also want to search for more information about iso-, hyper- and hypotonic drinks.

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Elena Anashina Photography



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