e're sure you have heard of intermittent fasting by now, well, if yes, Ramadan is in a way one such form of intermittent fasting. Apart from the celebratory undertones that come along with Ramadan, one must not forget the several health benefits of fasting that have been backed by science. Few of those health benefits can be listed as below:
• Fasting removes toxins from your body
• Helps in fighting inflammation
• Improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Nurtures brain function and prevents neurodegenerative disorders
• Promotes weight loss by limiting calorie absorption
• Increases mental wellbeing
But fasting alone is not enough for you to stay fit and healthy. In fact, you will need to pay close attention to your body during this phase where there’s a drastic change in your eating habits. This means that you need to make sure that you get proper nourishment between Iftar and Suhoor. Listed below are five more tips on how you can stay strong, healthy and energetic during 30 days of fasting:
1. Never skip Suhoor (pre-dawn meal)
As you will not get any nutrients during the day via any big or small meals, it is extremely important to prepare a meal with well-balanced nutrition that contains:
• Complex carbohydrates: They are slow-releasing carbs, that help maintain the blood sugar and gives you the feeling of fullness. Oats, wheat, grains and lentils are an example of complex carbohydrates.
• High-fibre products: Foods that digest slowly like bran, figs, seeds, potatoes, cereal, dates, vegetables and fruits, especially prunes and apricots.
• Protein-rich foods: These include dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt, fish with a high count of omega 3 and 6 (seabass, shrimp, salmon), meats, and beans like soybeans.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables every day
Eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables, especially those that have a high amount of water content like cucumber, watermelon, papaya, oranges, spinach, or tomatoes. You can choose either to eat them raw or mix them up in a juicer and drink it up.
3. Prepare soups as an everyday meal for Iftar
After a long day of fasting and on an empty stomach, you are advised to consume soothing and warm dishes, and soups might be a good candidate. Soups can easily be digested by your body and can fill up your body with fluids as well as provide the much-needed vitamins and minerals. You can choose to have clear soup or the thick version of the soup such as chowder or stew.
4. Keep your water intake high
In order to prevent dehydration during the day, drink at least 8-12 glasses of water a day in between Iftar and Suhoor. Enough water intake is vital to prevent water depletion in your body especially because dehydration has all kinds of negative effects, such as a constant feeling of fatigue, so regular water intake can take care of that for you.
• Beginner level: Focus on NEAT Movements
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis; a state where calories are burned through simple activities such as standing or walking. For a fact, standing up can burn up to 50 calories per hour. You can also burn calories by walking more during the day with the target of 10,000 to 15,000 steps per day. In fact, fasting has a distinctive fat-burning potential, so walking would additionally also have a compelling impact on your body.
• Beginner to Intermediate: Focus on LISS Cardio
LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State; exercises such as running and cycling. It is doable and suited for fat burning in the hour before breaking the fast or Iftar. You can engage in 30-40 minutes of low-intensity exercise such as a brisk walk or jogging outside or hit a treadmill in the gym. Tip: Start the exercise slowly and stay below your maximum level. Do it safely and confidently, and don't push yourself over your body’s limit.
• Intermediate to Advanced: Focus on HIIT Training
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training; a more intense exercise than just running and cycling. Spending 20 minutes on HIIT is just perfect during Ramadan. This should be carried out in short bursts of 45-seconds intense exercises and 15-seconds rests. You can get a great workout and obviously burn more calories than LISS and NEAT.
Tip: Just as in case of LISS Cardio, you are advised to remain within and below your maximum limit. Focus on short, higher-intensity exercises an hour before Iftar to make sure maximum fat burning takes place.
So as long as you keep a healthy diet and perform safe exercises, you can healthily go through your fasting during Ramadan. Staying healthy during Ramadan will make it a wonderful experience that you can share with your loved ones and in fact, all your Muslim brothers and sisters around the world!