Eat, Pray and Exercise: The Ramadan Guide

Something on many people’s mind right now is “How can I workout and eat properly while fasting?” Many people believe that Ramadan is a month where they are guaranteed to lose strength and muscle mass. Others believe they can only try to maintain themselves, and some people actually believe they will gain weight. However, if you use some of the strategies shared below, you’ll actually make amazing gains in fitness during Ramadan. The most important thing to understand is maximizing nutrient uptake, maintaining proper hydration, and preparing in advance for what you're about to face. 

The first thing to know is, what's going on with your body? The main issue you face is dehydration during exercise, and even during rest. While fasting, your body primarily uses fat as its main source of energy; you can use this to your advantage. Unbeknownst to many, fasting actually provides a host of benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of developing cancer
  • Decrease oxidative stress
  • Protect against degenerative brain disease
  • Increase fat burning
  • Improve blood sugar control and appetite control

So what are your main goals? Learn to maximize your metabolism and possible workouts, and preserve lean muscle mass. Doing this will help you achieve your goals.

When should you train? Well, there are three good times to train and each time has its own benefits; before Suhoor in the morning, an hour before breaking fast, or after taraweeh prayers at night. There is no perfect time to train, but it is important to understand that you should not be trying to train in the middle of the fast. Your body is already in a dehydrated state, and aggravating that is detrimental to your body. In fact, research indicates that dehydrating muscle can decrease in strength up to 12%. So make sure that no matter when you choose to exercise, it's not during the middle of the fasting day.

How should you train? It would be best to limit cardio exercise up to three times a week. Doing more than this is difficult because your body will already be short on energy reserves it can use to help you through the workouts. The best way to handle your cardio exercise would be short, but intense rounds that are less than 30 minutes long. Interval speed training or sprinting is a highly efficient way to maximize calorie loss, and keep your workouts bearable. Weight lifting is best done either before eating Suhoor, or after the taraweeh prayer. Lifting weights prior to breaking fast can prove disadvantageous to your gains. Again, for weight lifting, doing a high intensity routine would be optimal. An example would be doing four to 5 different exercises, with three sets for each one. Remember to make sure you are hydrating properly when not fasting.

Example:

  1. Bench Press – 3 sets with 10 repetitions each
  2. Squat – 3 sets with 10 repetitions each
  3. Deadlift – 3 sets with 10 repetitions each
  4. Shoulder Press – 3 sets with 10 repetitions each
  5. Pull-ups – 3 sets with 5 repetitions each

What should you eat? Here’s a list of foods that you should be having. During Suhoor it is extremely important to drink plenty of water, and eat a blend of all the essential nutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. In an earlier article, ILLUME addressed Beverly Hills fitness trainer Rehan Jalali's diet suggestions. READ: How to Lose Weight While Fasting (ILLUME)

Here are his main food choices in Ramadan:

  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breast
  • Oatmeal
  • Protein Shakes
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Honey
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Fibrous vegetables

 

This will be the first of a series of Ramadan nutrition and exercise pieces that will be coming out. You can contact the author directly Azeem@supshot.com if you have any questions, suggestions for what he should write next, or anything else that comes to mind. 

ALSO READ: Eat, Pray, and Exercise: The Ramadan Guide Pt 2 (ILLUME)

 



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Azeem graduated from Boston University with a BA in Biology and an MA in Medical Sciences. He is a co-founder of Supshot.