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Music Festival Food Ideas: How To Properly Fuel Your Body For A Festival Experience

With spring in session and summer approaching, this means festival season is here! It’s time to call your festival tribe into formation, and get ready for the best time of the year. A time to be with the people you love and listen to the music you can’t live without is something worth experiencing to the fullest. Not many people realize the amount of energy needed to participate in these festivals. Being a Dietitian/Nutritionist, we thought it would be appropriate to show how nutrition can really maximize your experience.

There will be some planning on your part, but it will all be totally worth it. We all know that these events require an ample amount of energy, especially the festivals that are more than one day. Like many of the athletes we have have worked with in the past, people who attend these events are sort of like athletes for the day or weekend. The massive amount of sweat that is lost, the amount of energy required to jump and dance for hours, are all very similar to what athletes go through during “game day”. In this article, we will talk about what to consume, both food and drink, before, during and after the event to get you ready for a weekend full of good vibes and even better memories. So, let’s jump right in!

Pre-Music Festival Preparation

It is very important to properly fuel your body prior to embarking in 8-12 hours of dancing, shuffling, and jumping from stage to stage. First, start with a good breakfast that has protein, carbs and color (fruits and vegetables). If fruit and veggies are too difficult for you to get down, try a protein packed fruit smoothie. Its quick, and it gives your body the right nutrients. When we think of fueling for a festival, it is important to get whole grain carbohydrates and lean protein. Whole grain carbohydrates will keep you fuller longer meaning you can spend more time enjoying the music. The whole grains will also keep your energy going longer because it takes your body more time to breakdown the food. Lean proteins that are low in fat are ideal to keep fist pumping and not feeling sluggish. Protein sources high in fat are heavy and can cause an upset stomach while jumping and dancing around. Being stuck to those “not so pleasant” porta potties can put a damper on your entire day.

What to eat?

  • Yogurt w/ ½ cup berries + ¾ cup whole grain cereal or granola
  • Small bowl of cereal + banana
  • Turkey sandwich + fruit
  • PB&J sandwich + fruit
  • Fruit smoothie (with protein) + avocado toast
  • Homemade trail mix- 1 cup whole grain cereal, 2 Tbsp dried fruit + nuts
  • WW tortilla + low fat cheese + apple slices
  • Graham crackers + PB and small glass of 1% or 2% milk 

When do I eat?

  • 1-2 hours before entering the festival

During The Music Festival

During the festival, be sure to re-fuel every 3-4 hours with a small snack. This will allow you to have sustained energy throughout the event. Because every festival has different vendors, food options may be limited. Be sure to include carbs (bread, rice, potatoes, pretzels, fruit smoothie, juice), protein, and fruit/veggies (if available). This will ensure you get more energy from the carbs, you can rebuild muscle with protein, and you can decrease damage to cells with fruits and vegetables.

What to eat?

  • Fruit smoothie
  • Grilled sausage with peppers and a 100% natural fruit juice
  • ½ Sandwich with lettuce tomato
  • A slice of veggie pizza
  • ½ Rice bowl with chicken + vegetables

When do I eat?

Every 3-4 hours

Post-Music Festival

After a day full of music and dancing, it is important to get a good meal. This will allow your body to recover and get you ready for the next day of adventures. You want to focus on three things: Refuel with carbohydrates, Re-build with protein and Rehydrate with fluids.

What to eat?

  • Turkey + pasta salad + water or low calorie sports drink
  • Tuna sandwich + baked chips + water or low calorie sports drink
  • Scrambled eggs or egg whites + WW toast + water or low calorie sports drink
  • Turkey sandwich + yogurt + water or low calorie sports drink
  • Fruit smoothie with whey protein
  • Low fat yogurt + granola + fruit + water or low calorie sports drink
  • Cereal + low fat milk + fruit + water or low calorie sports drink
  • PB&J + water or low calorie sports drink
  • Rice Bowl with chicken + vegetables + water or low calorie sports drink

When do I eat?

As soon as possible or up to 1-2 hours after the event. 

Proper Hydration

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! The amount of sweat you lose at a festival is more than some lose all year. Sweating, coupled with drinking (for those over 21), can cause the body to become even more dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, impaired judgement, dizziness, heat stroke, and all around a horrible time at the festival. Let the bass be the only thing that drops, not you. A good way to gauge if you are hydrated is checking the color of your urine when you use the bathroom. The aim is to have your urine look light like lemonade. If it is dark like coffee, you are dehydrated and need to seek medical attention. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so stay proactive and hydrate throughout the day. Many festivals now have water stations if you bring an empty water bottle or even a Hydration Pack. In sweat you also lose electrolytes which are important to keep you hydrated and to keep your muscles bumping to the beat. So, make sure to add a low sugar sports drink, like G2 or Powerade Zero, after the festival.

What to drink?

Water and low calorie sport drinks

When to drink?

Drink throughout the day. It is important to start as soon as you wake up and continue hydrating throughout the event even after the event. When we go to festivals, and the event permits, we take hydration packs with us and constantly keep it filled up. Lines do get long for water, but it is well worth it once you get water in your pack.

We hope this helps prepare you, physically, for your next music festival! You pay a lot of money to be part of the experience, so why not maximize your time by properly fueling and staying hydrated.

Written By:
Nathan Diaz, MS, RD
Antonio Castillo, MS, RD
Instagram: @nutrition4performance

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