Ramadan is 30 days of no food or water between sunrise and sunset. It is a time of reflection and introspection, focusing on inner strength and discipline. As it is a period of fasting and physical self-denial, careful thought must be given to how one exercises during this time and what one eats.
If you have any health issues and during the year you work out to stay as healthy as possible, it may be that you need to take a break from exercise during this month. Diabetics, for example, should seek medical advice in regard to their exercise regime and what they should be doing during the fast.
According to experts there are two main issues which need particular consideration during Ramadan:
Aim to maintain and not to gain
This means that during the fast, you don’t have to aim to improve your fitness. Your goal must be simply to maintain how fit you are. It has been said that if you do no exercise at all during the month of Ramadan, you could go back to the state of fitness you were in 4 months ago. Your diet during Ramadan is very important with a key point being for you to eat your normal number of calories.
Watch your hydration levels
Dehydration during Ramadan can be one of the biggest issues. As you are not drinking or eating throughout daylight hours, it is easy to become dehydrated. With summer temperature rising, you need to have an effective plan that will ensure you have enough fluids in a 24 hour period.
With these two issues in mind, there are a number of strategies you can employ that will ensure you maintain your fitness, stay hydrated and end the fast healthier than when you began.
Here are five tips to help you maintain your fitness during Ramadan:
1. Change your routine
It goes without saying that our routine will change during Ramadan. You want to rise well before sunset so you can have an early morning meal. Also for your workout times, you may need to adjust your routine to Ramadan and plan when is the most comfortable time for you to train whether it is right before iftar, after iftar or before or after Suhoor.
2. Eat well-balanced meals
A well-balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates and good fats is most likely to sustain you throughout the 15 hours of fasting. Proteins such as eggs and fish or meat, you can include nuts such as almonds, carbohydrates such as sweet potato and fats such as avocados. If you are still hungry after that turn to fruit and cereal.
3. Don’t overeat!
There’s no end to the amount of food to eat before sunrise, but don’t go overboard. If you do, you will, as many people do, gain weight during this month. Avoid the temptation o overeat during the evening meal and eat until you are reasonably full. Try not to have too much sugar. A rapid rise in your blood sugar level will lead to an excess of insulin being released into the blood. This gobbles up the glucose and a few hours later you may begin to feel weak, miserable and extra sluggish.
4. Drink water
Make sure you have enough water to drink before you begin your fast for the day. Don’t drink too much in one sitting. You want to try and spread the amount of water you are going to drink over the night. If you can take in 10 glasses of water (1.5 litres) from sunset to sunrise, you should maintain a normal level of hydration. You can work out your water needs as the fast progresses. With particularly hot days, you may need more fluid. In the evening don’t forget to re-hydrate yourself. Take water with you if you are going out and when you go to bed at night, keep a bottle of water next to your bed. When you wake up in the night, drink at least a glass or two.
5. Exercise to stay fit
While you don’t want to overdo exercise during Ramadan, you do want to do some that will result in you maintaining the fitness with which you entered the fast. It is recommended to exercise for a minimum of two times a week if not more. Any form of exercise is advisable from low intensity cardio sessions to light weights strength and conditioning and body weight exercises.
Ramadan is an opportunity for you to break bad habits and start good ones. When it comes to what to eat during the fast this year, try and select only what grows or breaths. If you can pick it off a tree, grow it in the ground, raise it on a farm or catch it in the sea, it’s good to eat. Avoid all packaged foods. If it’s in a box or in a packet, it’s inevitably going to be loaded with preservatives, excess salt and sugar. Those products are going to be far less healthy for you and are to be avoided. To maintain your fitness during Ramadan, you want to maintain a healthy diet and keep your calorie intake at the level you usually need.