Most performances occur in the evening and go on till late, this means we are exerting energy when most people are settling down for the day. Performers need to adjust their nutritional input to accommodate this upside down energy dispersion. Clinical nutritionist, Stephanie Moore, has some practical advice to help singers get the right energy balance.
Feeling full of energy and being able to maintain a dynamic performance is absolutely key if you are going to engage your audience and ensure they don’t lose interest.
Often, pre-show nerves provide a bit of a buzz and, coupled with the rush of adrenaline as you step on stage, your stress hormones will shunt plenty of glucose into your blood stream to ensure you have an initial burst of energy. However, maintaining stable blood sugar to provide sustained energy is another matter. Here are a few dos and dont’s to safeguard against suddenly feeling like you’re running on empty mid-gig.
DON’T eat a large meal just before you go on stage. Digestion requires a lot of energy so eating a lot of food can leave you feeling heavy and sluggish.
DON’T rely on high sugar foods like sweets, chocolate, or cakes to give you energy between sets, as these foods will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash. Fruit juices, smoothies, and ‘muesli’ bars may appear healthy but are often high in sugar.
DON’T drink coffee or caffeinated drinks on an empty stomach. The caffeine will give you an initial buzz but can very rapidly leave you feeling depleted and low in energy.
DO drink plenty of plain water or coconut water to ensure you are well-hydrated before you go on stage. Even slight dehydration can cause fatigue and brain fog. Avoid fizzy drinks as they can cause you to burp and can make you feel bloated.
DO eat a well-balanced meal 60 – 90 minutes before going on stage that contains some healthy fats and protein (unprocessed meat, oily fish, eggs, cheese, nuts & seeds, avocados etc.) and some complex carbohydrates (veggies, potatoes, whole- grains). Combining all these food groups will ensure your blood sugar remains stable, providing you with a steady stream of energy.
DO have with you a mixture of nuts like almonds, brazils and cashews, as well as fresh fruit or a little dried fruits such as apricots or figs, to nibble on between sets. These foods give your energy a steady boost while providing your brain and muscles with much needed nutrients.