Prepping for dance classes can be tricky—eat too much, and you’ll feel bogged down during class; eat too little, and you might start to feel light-headed and won’t perform at your best. So, in between pinning your hair up in the perfect ballet bun and putting on your leotard, take the time to eat a light meal or snack to make sure you stay energized and on-your-toes, from barre to adagio.

But the nourishment shouldn’t stop there. As hungry as you might be after class, don’t just reach for a bag of chips from the vending machine or the leftovers in your fridge. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best time to eat after a rigorous workout is within two hours of stopping exercise. And, of course, stay hydrated before, during, and after class.

Meals for Pre-Class

While it’s essential to eat before class, it’s okay to stick to a light snack—there’s no need to feel weighed down during class. In general, complex carbohydrates, which are combined with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, will provide more long-lasting sustenance throughout a dance class rather than simple sugars.

Almond Butter with Toast

To stay energized throughout even a long class, choose whole wheat bread, over white bread, for example. Then, pair with a small amount of protein, like peanut or almond butter. You can get creative and add eggs, blueberries, or even bananas for some extra energy!

Rice Cakes


If you’re following a gluten-free diet, rice cakes with nut butter are a great alternative to a more traditional slice of toast. You can even pair them with tuna and tomato salad, or other toppings.

Sweet Potato Toast


Sweet potatoes are another great example of a complex carbohydrate to consume before class—they have a low glycemic index. You can also add a touch of almond or peanut butter to a baked sweet potato, for a sweeter twist.

Oatmeal with Fruit and Nut Butters

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Oatmeal with fresh berries, dried fruit, or nut butter will provide a warm, nutritious breakfast before a class.

Greek Yogurt

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Similarly, top plain Greek yogurt with the fruit of your choice for a light meal that’s low in processed sugars. You can also add a sprinkle of granola or trail mix to add some crunch to your snack.

Green Smoothies


If made properly, a pre-workout green smoothie can hydrate and nourish in one simple drink. The best green smoothies are low-sugar and packed with spinach—check out Simple Green’s recipe for inspiration.
Homemade Granola Bars

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Grabbing a granola bar from the pantry is easy enough, but traditional packaged snacks are filled with processed sugar. To avoid the mid-class sugar crash, you can make your own bars at home—they’re entirely customizable, and, if you don’t have a lot of time, it’s easy to find a no-bake recipe that just requires refrigeration. Both Allrecipes and the Minimalist Baker offer no-bake, low-ingredient options, perfect for assembling the night before class.

Meals for Post-Class

After class, be sure to hydrate with plenty of water—you can also turn to fruit, like oranges or melon, to further restore fluids. Again, resist the temptation to grab whatever is easiest in the fridge; this time is essential for restoring vital nutrients and calories burnt during the ballet class.

If you’re a big fan of a green smoothie before your class, try a protein-packed smoothie afterwards—blending protein powder, fruit, and the milk of your choice makes for a sweet and refreshing treat after a long class. Check out Prevention’s list of 10 post-workout smoothies for some great options.

Hardboiled Eggs

If you’re on the move after class, prepared snacks can help you get back on schedule quickly. Hardboiled eggs, apples and peanut butter, sliced deli meat, string cheese, and Greek yogurt are all easy, portable options.

Homemade Trail Mix

Similar to the homemade granola bars listed above, a homemade trail mix can give you a variety of flavors and a healthy serving of fat and protein for a post-dance-class snack. Making it on your own can help you cut out the added sugars and preservatives from packaged snacks—combine nuts, dried fruit, seeds, etc.

Overnight Oats

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Overnight oats, in which you soak oats in the milk of your choice for at least eight hours rather than cooking on a stovetop or in a microwave, can be topped with fruits, nuts, or seeds for maximum nutrition—consider adding the protein powder of your choice to restore muscle or chia seeds for antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Make the oats in the Mason jar or to-go container of your choice, if you’re bringing it along to class with you!

Lean Protein and Vegetables


Lean protein and vegetables are also a great option—baked chicken or salmon paired with roasted vegetables are easy to prepare in large batches and refrigerate throughout the week.

Avocado Toast

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If you have enough time to prepare a meal after class, a serving of ever-trendy avocado toast made with whole grain bread provides a healthy blend of fats and carbohydrates post-workout. Top with a poached egg, and you can give your body the protein it needs to restore post-workout.

Protein Pancakes

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Craving a hearty breakfast after a long, early-morning class? Regular pancakes might cause a sugar crash later in the day, but protein pancakes have minimal processed sugar and lots of protein. They typically combine protein powder, eggs, and bananas for a low-carb, protein-rich recipe, though many variations on this format exist. Check out Pinch of Yum’s recipe (it includes the option for blueberries or chocolate chips!), or Greatist’s compilation of nine protein pancake recipes with a twist, ranging from lemon blueberry to apple cinnamon. Try topping with fresh fruit and nut butter, rather than traditional maple syrup.

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