Staying fit while fasting

The Holy Month of Ramadan is upon us once again. It is a time for self-reflection, selfless acts and spending cherished time with family and friends. 

It is also the time when our training often suffers, and many us experience either weight loss or weight gain as well as losing both stamina and strength. Fasting during Ramadan doesn’t have to undo the fitness work you have put in during the months before. These simple tips will help you to stay fit and healthy while fasting.

Don’t sacrifice snooze

With evenings packed with eating and activity combined with waking up/staying up for an early morning Suhur, getting the recommended eight hours of shut-eye can sometimes be a challenge. Sleep is so important not only for muscle development and repair, but also for energy levels and concentration.  Not only that, studies show that sleep deprivation also negatively affects physical performance, meaning that you just won’t be able to train at your best if you haven’t slept enough. If you can’t manage eight hours at night, try to have an afternoon nap if your work schedule permits to bump up your hours in the land of nod. 


We are what we eat

During Ramadan people often fall into two categories; those who over eat after sunset, and those who don’t eat enough. It is important to consume the same amount of calories in night-time hours as you would during the entire day. And these are not just any calories. Try to stay away from fried food, refined sugars and fast-burning carbohydrates. Instead eat protein-rich foods like lean meat and fish or legumes, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Foods rich in protein will help to curb your appetite so you’re not tempted to over-indulge on the carb-heavy food served later.


Hydrate hydrate hydrate

It goes without saying, hydrating well during the night-time hours is vital during Ramadan, especially in the hot summer.  This is even more of a priority if you plan to workout at any point during the day or night. You will need to drink as much as you would during the day usually, plus more. When it comes to your choice of drink, the natural choice – water, is always best. Sugary drinks and sodas can reduce the amount of fluid your body actually retains, which won’t set you up well for the following day of fasting.


Perfect timing

During Ramadan, people tend to workout during a few key times. The first is immediately before breaking fast. This can be a good option for fat loss as you will be training on an empty stomach, meaning that you will be burning calories from fat stores rather than food you’ve recently consumed. If you time the workout so it ends at Iftar, you can immediately start to replenish the fluids you have lost. 

Another popular time to workout is soon after breaking fast. This option is good as you won’t be running on empty in terms of energy and fluids and you will be able to drink throughout the workout. If you choose to train at this time, the trick is not eating too much at Iftar so you don’t workout on a full tummy. Eat something light, such as dates, fruit and of course plenty of water. Save the larger meal for when you return from training.

Some people opt for a third option – a few hours after their larger meal at night.  The benefit of this time is that your energy levels are high and you are well hydrated and fuelled. The disadvantage is that you probably will need to wait a couple of hours after your meal to train, so it will often end up at around 10pm, 11pm or even later. It can then tricky to wind down again afterwards, which will push back bedtime to quite a late hour. 

Ultimately, Ramadan is a special time of year, so don’t worry too much about strictly sticking to your usual regimen and achieving the same results. The most important thing is to stay active and maintain a healthy diet. Make the most of this Holy Month and you can hit the gym hard again after Eid.

What are your tips for training during Ramadan?

Nidhal Aouali

Coach, Oman Kickboxing Club

Instagram: @nidhalaouali and omankickboxingclub

Staying fit while fasting
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