With auditions right around the corner, your schedule is bound to fill up with weekend rehearsals and time-constrained study breaks (don’t forget about those!). Between striving to execute the challenging choreography and working to maintain your GPA in school, it’s essential to power your brain with optimal fuel. To best prepare for this upcoming season, consider this a quick guide to creating some brain-boosting power bites for your performance—both on and off the stage.
Balance Your Plate:
When it comes to fueling for the job, create a balanced plate to optimize performance. As a practicing dietitian however, I continue to see a great deal of hype circulating around fad diets and trendy meal plans. Whether you’re restricting carbs, overdoing the protein, avoiding dairy, or limiting any other food group- I can assure you that unless it’s for a medical reason, it will do more harm than good to your long-term success. Restrictions create an overwhelming landscape for poor eating habits and further instill an unhealthy relationship between your mind, your plate, and your body.
On the cellular level, your body is designed to burn carbs for energy. Furthermore, your brain requires glucose, which is the main sugar found in most carb-containing foods. If we deprive our body of that fuel, it will turn to other sources—like breaking down your hard-earned muscle. Choose high fiber complex carbohydrates from plant-based sources like oatmeal, quinoa, faro, and grain-based breads. These complex carbohydrates allow for a more stabilized energy release, keeping your blood sugar and fuel levels burning for longer periods—in other words… you won’t feel drained after one rehearsal! Additionally, include carbs as part of a balanced meal with protein and healthy fats to promote an increased production of serotonin in your brain. This balance eases anxiety levels, allowing you to relax at the audition.
Freshen’ Up with Fruit
As your rehearsal schedule picks up in momentum, your body’s metabolic rate will naturally increase. This coincides with a natural build up of stress and inflammation throughout your body. Counteract this exercise-induced stress by including a variety of fruits. Fruit contains antioxidative compounds like vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, which help to counter the inflammatory damage.
Nuts and Seeds are the Way to Be!
If there’s one macronutrient that needs a relationship makeover, it’s fat. Healthy fats, like those found naturally in plant foods (nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives) are potent sources of antioxidants. Seeds are a great source of zinc, which acts as a structural component to cells helping to protect against oxidative stress. Furthermore, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and natural nut butters are great sources of vitamin E.
Quick Snacks to Optimize Brain Power
- Tuna Sandwich: Create a protein-packed tuna salad by mixing a 3-oz serving of tuna (packed in water) with 1 tablespoon of whole milk Greek yogurt (alternative to your standard mayo) with chopped celery and dill. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, and spread on 2 slices of toasted whole grain Ezekiel bread.
- Pair cherry tomatoes and other freshly cut veggies with hummus or guacamole. Tomatoes are high in a potent antioxidant called lycopene, while avocados are full of monounsaturated fats, contributing to healthy blood flow and mental clarity.
- Add a minimally processed snack bar to your daily routine in order to keep hunger and energy levels stable. Suggested favorites include: LARA bars and KIND bars.