We all know drinking water is important for dancers, especially when the temperature is sky-high and you're soaked in sweat during class. But with all the benefits sports drinks claim to have, should you be supplementing your hydration with those, too? DS consulted dance nutrition experts Marie Elena Scioscia, MS, RD, CDN, of The Ailey School, and Peggy Swistak, MS, RD, CD, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, to get the lowdown on popular sports beverages.
Claim: The high potassium content in coconut water makes it a better choice than sports drinks for optimal performance.
Verdict: It's not bad, but it's no miracle drink.
Coconut water is fairly low in calories and has more potassium per serving than a banana—so if you like the taste, it's a good choice. “But if you're exercising heavily and sweating profusely, you'll do better with a traditional sports drink like Gatorade for electrolyte replacement," Scioscia explains.
Claim: In addition to providing vitamins, different flavors promise “energy," “revival," “glow" and more.
Verdict: The claims are mostly false and the vitamins are most likely unnecessary.
“If you're eating well, taking a multivitamin and drinking vitaminwater, you could be getting too many vitamins, which is just as dangerous as too few vitamins," Scioscia says. Swistak adds, “The labeling of 'energy,' 'weight loss,' 'antioxidants,' etc., is misleading—there's not enough of any ingredient to do anything of the sort."
Coffee and Energy Drinks
Claim: The caffeine will give you energy.
Verdict: Depending on how your body reacts to caffeine, that's possibly true. But these aren't the best choices for hydration and should be used sparingly.
“Caffeinated drinks could help rev up your energy, but too much caffeine can dehydrate you and waste B vitamins," says Scioscia. Overloading on caffeine can also cause “irritability, shakiness or an upset stomach," Swistak says.
“Exotic" Fruit Drinks (like Fuze and açaí-berry drinks)
Claim: Like vitaminwater, these drinks promise a variety of things, such as weight loss and increased stamina.
Verdict: They won't hurt you, but they won't help you much, either.
“None of the claims these kinds of drinks make have been proven true," Swistak says. “They might taste good though, so there's no problem with drinking them—if you can afford the extra calories."
Claim: Gatorade replenishes electrolytes lost through sweat and stimulates thirst so you'll be sure to drink enough to rehydrate.
Verdict: It lives up to its claim! Gatorade is one of your best options.
Gatorade is great for replacing electrolytes, according to Scioscia. Not only will it quench your thirst, but it will also prevent an electrolyte imbalance, enabling you to keep dancing. The low-calorie version is your best bet.
The Sweaty Truth
Electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium, keep your muscles and nerves functioning, which is why they're so important for dancers. You lose electrolytes when you sweat—in fact, you may even find that your skin gets salty because of the sodium leaving your body. Failure to replenish your electrolytes can cause cramping, nausea, light-headedness and spasms. Yikes!
The Bottom Line
Most fluids you drink (excluding alcohol) will prevent dehydration. Even watery fruits and veggies can help keep you hydrated. But be wary of advertising claims on sports beverages. Unless you're in dire need of electrolytes, your safest bet is plain old water—zero calories, zero potentially harmful side effects! You can always add a slice of lime or lemon for flavor.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.