By: Mohamad Kadry
Fasting during the month of Ramadan can bring out many changes in those who observe it, but gluttony and laziness should not be among them.
These are problems that many people face each year when fasting from sunrise to sunset, tempted by copious amounts of food at Iftar combined with little to no physical activity throughout the day. But Ramadan should never be an excuse to overindulge.
While fasting, your body’s metabolism essentially slows down which can make you feel lethargic and help pack on unwanted weight. But with some careful planning there are a number of things you can implement into your daily schedule that will help you remain fit and strong throughout the month.
Sharing a meal with friends and family is a vital component of the Holy Month, but that doesn’t mean you should be stuffing your face with unhealthy amounts of food. The temptation to overindulge is so great this month that most people dismiss it as unavoidable, but Ramadan can also be a great time to forge new eating habits. For Suhoor (pre-dawn meal), stick to wholesome foods that will provide enough energy to last during the long hours of fasting. These include a combination of fruits and vegetables that are rich in fibre, slow digesting foods like brown rice and wholemeal bread, and low-fat dairy products. In reality, most people are committing gluttony during Iftar (post-sunset) where fried food and sugary sweets dominate the menu. When your body has been deprived of food and drink all day, it only takes a few minutes of eating to start feeling sick in your stomach. Rather than filling up your plate at dinner time, try eating a few dates and a glass of water to help jump-start your system and replenish your energy levels. This can be followed by a bowl of lentil soup and a slice from all the major food groups including a piece of fruit, a serving of vegetable, brown rice or noodles and a protein like grilled fish or chicken. The most important thing to remember is that your body is in a somewhat fragile condition during this month, so feeding it the right types of nutrients is vital to keeping things running smoothly.
HIT THE GYM
Focusing on your spiritual needs during the Holy Month doesn’t mean neglecting the physical ones. If you already have a workout routine then the most important thing to do is maintain it. That usually means altering your normal workout schedule to a few hours after you break your fast. Make sure you have lean proteins, complex carbs and lots of vegetables. A brisk 45-minute session of low-intensity cardio and weight lifting will make a world of difference for your energy levels and waistline. If you don’t have the time for a gym session, then go for a long walk after Iftar. It’s vital that you do not stop being active, because you’ll regret it once Ramadan is over.
Your sleep schedule risks falling into disarray during Ramadan for a variety of reasons that include staying up all night until Suhoor only to spend the rest of the morning and afternoon in bed. The Holy Month does not give you permission to waste away your days when you could otherwise be productive. While catching up with family and friends during the evening hours is a beautiful tradition for many people, you should end social gatherings at a decent hour and continue to get a full night’s rest. Messing with your body’s natural rhythm will have repercussions long after the month is over.