7 tips for keeping fit in Ramadan
With all the changes to your eating and sleeping habits combined with the searing outdoor heat, keeping fit during Ramadan in a Gulf summer can be hard graft (and even harder for those who are adhereing to the month-long fast). With that in mind, Esquire Middle East picked the brains of Technogym master trainer Ivan Djordjevic, to find out the best way to making sure you don't slack off physically during the Holy Month.
1. Focus on the details
Ramadan is an ideal time to work on your weak points. Focus on mobility, posture and im-proving exercise technique. Revise your training programme. Check if you are doing some-thing wrong. Keep yourself on track. Focus on strength exercises to maintain your muscle mass — trying to increase it during fasting is nearly impossible. Don’t push your training to a point where it become useless. Stay focussed. Excessive cardio is not advisable, as it will slow down your metabolic rate, meaning that if you do binge in the evening it can cause weight gain.
2. Take advantage of fasting for a nutritional reboot
Introduce new sources of food into your diet during the month. This time can actually be massively beneficial to the nutritional aspect of your life — if you can’t eat anything during the day then you’re three quarters of the way to quitting a negative food. Consuming poor quality foods in the evening and early morning is simply keeping your addiction to that food hanging on by a thread. Try to eliminate sugar, junk, caffeine, fried food, soft drinks. It’s a great period to change your bad habits.
3. Plan your meals ahead to avoid binging
When we are hungry and looking to break our fast we need to be careful. If it comes to if-tar, a greasy plate of food in front of us will be an easier option than cooking. So plan your meals to avoid slipping up with low-value food to stay on track with your targets.
4. How fasting affects the body
Fasting radically alters the diet. Meals are limited to the morning and evening, causing the body's metabolism to slow. Some may experience discomfort during the day. However, good health can be maintained by consuming adequate nutrients during meals. Some stud-ies show that people who fast on regular basis lower their risk of contracting coronary dis-ease. Other studies show metabolic reactions change and lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and decrease blood sugar levels.
5. Plan to workout at the right time of day
The best time to train is around 8am — after breaking your fast, your body will have the nutrients to support your system. Some people believe training in the afternoon is a good idea so that more oxygen can be available to the muscles, rather than being required for digestion. However, workouts and training are more beneficial when your body is properly fuelled, whereas results will be diminished when you’re hungry and less focussed.
6. Get your hydration and nutrition right
Wake up earlier if possible, around 4:30am, to have a quick protein-based meal before fasting starts. Make sure to down at least two large glasses of water and a good multivita-min at this time. On breaking fast at sunset, rehydrate and have something small — some protein, some low glycaemic carbs, (no sweets, even if it is traditional!), then train. You can follow this with a bigger meal. With your second and larger meal after training, it can be protein shakes/carbs as well as protein. How much carbs depends on how insulin sensitive you are. Aim to squeeze in another smaller meal at about 10pm and be in bed by 11pm. This is important so you don’t start the day tired as well as hungry, which will make your days less productive and increase the chances of binging when it comes to iftar.
7. Avoid coffee
Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) is a time when you will obviously be extremely tired, so a cup of joe can be seriously tempting. However, caffeine is a diuretic that will make you want to urinate a lot more than usual. While water also leads to bathroom visits, it is still hydrating; while coffee makes you urinate more without offering any hydration in the first place.
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