How to Plan Your Fitness Program During Ramadan

The Holy month of Ramadan is upon us. It is..

How to Plan Your Fitness Program During Ramadan

The Holy month of Ramadan is upon us.

It is a time of spiritual and physical purification. 

A time in which we try our best to be the best possible versions of ourselves by refraining from food, drink, impure and negative thoughts – a time of reflection and deep introspection. 

According to a study published in the reputable European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers concluded.

“no detrimental effects on health have as yet been directly attributed to negative water balance at the levels that may be produced in Ramadan.”

Other research has actually shown cardiovascular benefits of fasting during Ramadan. It truly serves to purify and detoxify the body and mind.

The first couple of days could be difficult for everyone; it is a big dietary change after all, but once you get used to it. 

Fasting does not have to get in the way of your daily duties or your workout schedule. It will just need to be modified to achieve maximum results with minimum fatigue and weakness.

In order to maintain your physical fitness, certain things will need to be altered. So follow these guidelines and get the most out of this Holy month.

Don’t overdo it, don’t underdo it

Most Muslim men have the fear that they will lose too much weight and muscle, while women have the exact opposite fear – gaining too much weight.

One of the key philosophies of the Islamic religion is moderation, in everything, and that includes the meals during Ramadan.

Refrain from overeating when the sun comes down, but also be aware that you need fuel in the form of food and water to keep you going about your day.

So don’t refrain from the necessary amount of food either.

Some of the key things to avoid during Ramadan, in order to avoid weight gain, are an excessive amount of food.

Your eyes are actually hungrier than your stomach is; your stomach is the same size as it is during the rest of the year (if not smaller), so don’t allow yourself to binge-eat.

This will only lead to bloating and the very undesirable ‘food coma’ that will leave you capable of nothing but sitting on the couch and rubbing your sore belly for hours on end.

When the time comes to break the fast, do it with water and a date, but avoid soft drinks at all cost.

After a whole day of fasting, your stomach accumulates air from not having food in it – especially in the first days of fasting as it settles into a new routine.

Adding more gas to your stomach can make you feel worse.

The high amount of sugar will keep you feeling hungry and cause you to eat more than what your body needs.

Adopt a diet that is rich in fiber and protein

Adopt a diet that is rich in fiber and protein, as these will not only ensure that your body feels less hungry. 

But it will also give you the right type of energy for your workout session.

In addition to not overdoing or underdoing it when it comes to food, the same principle applies to sleep.

You might be staying up part of the night for extra prayers. 

Or if you’re in the northern hemisphere, you might be getting up for suhur very early and going to bed late.

Be sure to replace other hours in your day for sleep: skip the daily Internet surfing routine and go to bed earlier.

Feeling tired throughout the day may cause you to binge eat, causing more lethargy.

It can be a virtuous or a vicious circle, so do everything in your power not to get caught in it; remember – everything in moderation.

Water, water, water

The importance of optimal water intake can’t be stressed enough, and the need for proper hydration is particularly increased during Ramadan.

You will be spending entire days, from sunrise to sunset, without water, so you need to stock up.

Still, there is a right and wrong approach when it comes to the issue of how to stay hydrated during Ramadan.

The advice given by many fitness experts is to not wait until the last hour before beginning your fast.

To stay hydrated during your fast, aim for 250-500 ml of water per hour during the hours you’re not fasting.

If you take too much in one go, the body will excrete it.

Workout regime and the right time to do it

The most important thing to uphold is to not skip the workout during Ramadan.

Although you probably won’t be able to make gains in muscle mass during Ramadan, you can at least preserve what you have if you keep your schedule up.

The first thing that needs to be adjusted is the intensity of the workout. If your regular exercise regimen is intense, you might want to take it down a notch.

On a typical Ramadan day, you have fasted for 8 to 10 hours and a busy day is behind you.

Under those circumstances pulling off your usual intensity is almost an impossible thing to do.

The best option is to not change your routine entirely, but to modify the number of repetitions. 

So if you are for instance, lifting weight, maintain the same weight, but downsize the number of lifts.

If you are on the treadmill, it is best to power walk instead of going on a high-intensity run. You don’t want to overtax and excruciate your body.

Keep the workout session short, somewhere between thirty and sixty minutes.

If you choose to do your workout routine before iftar

If you choose to do your workout routine before iftar, (which is a good time, because you will be able to replenish your strength soon after the workout) – go with low-impact exercises like moderate cycling or a brisk walk.

To help burn calories and improve stamina, full body stretching to improve flexibility and detoxification, or mat exercises such as an abs workout and push-ups.

Another good time to exercise is after suhur, but this is only recommended it you haven’t indulged in too much food, and fatty one at that.

However, this hour can be difficult to pull off, as all the body is craving at this time is sleep. If you can resist the call from your bed, by all means, exercise then.

There is a catch, however, to exercising at this time.

You have just had suhur, and the food and water you eat during this meal are supposed to get you through the day. 

So if you spend it all on exercise, there is a good possibility that your energy levels will be very low, and your productivity along with it.

The best possible time to work out

The best possible time to work out, and not even worry about the intensity of your workout is after iftar.

Give the body an hour to digest the protein and fiber-rich foods that were mentioned before (you won’t be very productive at the gym if you are full of sugary and fatty foods).

This is the time when you can engage in a high-intensity workout, similar, if not the same to your regular one. 

As you will have a window of time to make up for the lost calories during suhur. It is a win-win situation.

Remember, seventy percent of health and fitness lies in good diet, and thirty in exercise. 

So regardless of what time and workout routine you go with during Ramadan, bear in mind that, in order to stay fit. 

It is the time at the dining table that counts as much as the time at the gym.


Author: Peter Minkoff

Follow Him On Twitter: Peter Minkoff


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Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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