By Basma Mostafa
With Ramadan hitting during the hot summer months, and with over 14 hours of fasting, people have less time to eat, drink, sleep, attend to their daily chores, and stay committed to their fitness plans at the same time. But the arrival of the holy month should not mean tossing your fitness plans to the side and packing on all the weight you may have lost. Cairo-based nutritionist Bahaa Gordon shares a few tips on how to stay fit and healthy during Ramadan.
Gordon begins by explaining that people who exercise fall into two categories. “There are those who want to burn calories and lose weight, and those who want to lose fat and increase their muscle mass. During Ramadan, the former should work out before Iftar and the latter should exercise at least two hours after Iftar,” explains Gordon.
[quote] “There are those who want to burn calories and lose weight, and those who want to lose fat and increase their muscle mass. During Ramadan, the former should work out before Iftar and the latter should exercise at least two hours after Iftar,” [/quote]
Gordon stresses the importance of working out in an air-conditioned room to keep your body from dehydrating during the fasting hours. He adds that, regardless of your fitness plans, safety always comes first. “In order to avoid losing minerals in your body when exercising while fasting, schedule your workout 45 minutes or 1 hour before Iftar,” he explains.
If you are a fitness newbie, always exercise after Iftar. Gordon explains that a lot of factors come into play, such as blood pressure and whether or not you have diabetes. “Exercising after iftar minimizes any damage you may unknowingly be doing to your body,” he adds. While being on a regular exercise routine is beneficial for your body, he recommends that you minimize cardio training , especially if you are exercising while fasting.
[quote]In order to avoid losing minerals in your body when exercising while fasting, schedule your workout 45 minutes or 1 hour before Iftar[/quote]
Ramadan Workouts and Nutrition
Gordon explains that, if you are going to work out after iftar, your meal should include carbohydrates to provide your body with the energy it needs. You also need to eat fruits and vegetables to compensate for the minerals your body is losing. He adds that you do not have to be committed to a regular workout routine to stay away from fried foods and desserts. “You should reduce your fat intake because fat-rich foods can hinder your progress in building muscles,” he notes.
He stresses the importance of getting enough sleep to gain muscle mass and lose body fat. “It does not matter if you have to wake up for prayer; you should get a total of seven or eight hours of sleep,” he says, explaining that not getting enough sleep will lead you to lose more muscle and less fat, which is not what you want.
Adjust Your Fitness Plans
If you have been working out for a while, Gordon advises against stopping during Ramadan. “It is quite a common misconception that people lose weight when they fast. What they do instead is consume a lot of calories in a short period of time — sometimes more calories than their bodies need. When this happens, the body is more prone to storing fats, and thus you gain weight,” he explains.
“In addition, if you take a break from your workout routine, your body will gradually start losing the muscle mass you have worked so hard to build.”
If you are used to working out on a daily basis, you do not have to continue at the same rate during Ramadan, however. Gordon recommends that those who have a daily workout routine outside of Ramadan maintain a workout of four-five times per week.
“A good rule of thumb would be to stay committed to 60 to 65 percent of your regular workout routine,” he says.
Because most of us are guilty of overeating during Ramadan, Gordon concludes by stressing the importance of doing your body a favor and eating only until you are one-third full.