Ramadan is right around the corner and with it, the anticipation of the mouth-watering delicacies of Iftar that follow the half-day of fasting. During a month where we practice introspection and discipline and abstinence, gorging oneself silly on food is not the right way to treat one’s adjusting metabolism. Also, pushing your dehydrated muscles to workout extensively will leave you exhausted and lethargic. Reap the spiritual benefits of Ramadan by taking measures to ensure your food intake and workout regimen does not leave you drained of energy or completely starved.
Watch what you eat
There are two types of people during Ramadan: those who drop the pounds, and those who pack on the pounds. Due to short-eating windows and stomach-shrinking, some people may tend to under-eat. Avoid this by adding calorie-dense meals like rice, whey, chicken and fatty cuts of meat. For those struggling to keep the weight off, you can begin iftar and suhoor with some lean protein and fibrous veggies to curb your appetite.
Fix a workout routine
Dr Maged Shurrab, a specialist physician at Dubai’s Al Tadawi Medical Centre says, “People can either exercise before suhur or after iftar but avoid exercising while fasting because it’s ‘dangerous’ and ‘unacceptable’.” A healthier option would be to go for a brisk walk before iftar, recommends Sally al Awar, a clinical dietician based in Abu Dhabi. Keep workouts short, about 30 minutes to a maximum of 60 minutes. Light cardiovascular exercises like cycling or walking will help burn calories while helping you build your stamina.
With no food or water passing your lips during the daylight, your body burns glycogen and may also become dehydrated. In order to combat this, drink plenty of water between the hours of iftar and suhur. Drink water with sea salt or coconut water to increase the electrolytes in your body, which are essential for the heart, nerve and muscle functions. Hamza Ayyad, the fitness centre manager at Burjeel Hospital says, “Fasters can avoid dehydration by drinking 2.5 litres of water between iftar and before going to sleep. It is recommended that people drink 35 ml of water per kg of body weight, and drink it over a period of time.”
If the thought of skipping a day at the gym fills you with mortal dread this Ramadan, fear not, and just follow this word of advice laid out by Dr Joseph Mercola, a popular health activist, who says, “Use common sense.” Training while you are fasting can actually be more detrimental than beneficial. Avoid any and all high-intensity workout like sprinting, stepper or heavy weight lifting. Instead, begin your workout after iftar and stick to a lighter routine, because it takes time to hydrate, and pay attention to your muscles becoming fatigued because straining yourself will compromise your regimen and might even lead to injury.
The temptation to voraciously load up during and after iftar is understandable after a long day of fasting. This often leads to uncomfortable bloating, and worst yet, incessant fiery heart burn. Dates are enriched with glucose, fructose, potassium and beta-D-glucan which help relieve the sensation of fullness. You can detoxify yourself by consuming 1-2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered honey. Opt for fish, as fish oils EPA and DHA have been shown to improve brain function and enhance cardiovascular health. So this Ramadan, stay sharp, alert and healthy.