Whole-food snack combos are an essential part of a dancer’s meal plan. But with little time to build a balanced snack during performance season, convenience is super helpful. Snack bars are specifically practical and readily available when hunger strikes unexpectedly. Keeping an emergency snack bar in your dance bag ensures that your body remains properly fueled throughout the day.
With endless options stocked along grocery shelves, choosing a snack bar that fuels performance can be challenging. Some bars pack in a punch of claim-to-fame numbers like X grams of protein and fiber while others boast “low fat” and “low sugar.” Regardless, dancers can benefit from a bar made with nourishing ingredients that will optimize energy levels and support post-class muscle recovery.
This article will dive into 3 steps to choosing a balanced snack or snack bar. Don’t forget to download and pin our helpful guide below!
Step 1: Identify Nourishing Ingredients
Whole foods, like nuts, whole grains, seeds, and fruit come packed with naturally occurring protein and fiber. Together, this macro mix supports energy levels. Since ingredients are listed in order of weight, the first ingredients are therefore the most prominent in the food. Aim for options listing whole foods, but no need to obsess. Your primary goal is to nourish your body with energizing foods.
Step 2: Know Your Sweetener
There’s a difference between the listed “total” and “added” sugars on a label. The “total” amount of sugar includes naturally occurring sugar (from fruit and milk) and “added sugars” which are added to foods during processing. Generally, most foods will contain sugar. This is both normal and necessary as sugar is a primary fuel source for the body. When choosing a bar, identify sources of added sugars and aim for those coming from sources like dried fruit, cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, and molasses.
While no sugar needs to be deemed off-limits, highly processed sugars like fructose corn syrup might be more prone to causing spikes in energy. Furthermore, artificial sugar sweeteners and sugar alcohols like aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium can cause bloating and gas. Since these are symptoms that can be unpleasant while dancing, it’s best to reconsider options with artificial sweeteners.
A quick tip: aim for your total of added sugar to be equal to or less than the total amount of fiber. So, if a bar has about 6 grams of fiber, look for it to have about 6 grams or less of added sugar. For example, LARAbars have up to 20 grams of sugar, but from whole food sources. Natural sugars deliver a boost of energy and are not to be feared!
Step 3: Focus Less on Numbers and More On Ingredients
As mentioned earlier, identify whole foods when possible, but no need to obsess. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dried fruit are some examples.
- KIND: Nut Bars, Protein Bars, and “5 Grams Sugar” Bars
- Whole nuts, grains, and fruits make up the bulk of most KIND bars, making them a filling and high-fiber choice.
- The Blueberry Vanilla Cashew offers a great balance of protein, fiber, and natural sugar. Plus, it’s delicious!
- Lärabar and Lärabar Protein
- With a base made from dates, Lärabars are particularly high in carbohydrates—which is why they deliver such a tasty energy boost!
- The Almond Butter Chocolate Chip variation is the perfect between-classes snack for your sweet tooth!
- Perfect Bars are nut-butter-based, making it incredibly nutrient-dense for when you need something more filling with a good amount of protein.
- The Peanut Butter Perfect Bar is simple in name, but hides a host of surprising nutritious ingredients! PS- It’s Rachel’s favorite!
- RXBars pack a protein punch with the simplest of ingredients.
- The Chocolate Sea Salt flavor is simple but delicious!
Article written with the help of student Abby Haynes. Expert reviewed by Rachel Fine.