Ramadan is an important time for spiritual practice and maybe its importance is coming from the search of the balance both with this physical world and the spiritual world. How I can eat healthily and exercise during Ramadan so that I can be in balance and take responsibility for my life.
In Ramadan, there are many rituals that people are invited to practice connecting themselves and to the One. Fasting is the main of all these rituals.
Fasting makes you slow down, to become aware and meet your needs; both physical and spiritual.
“Your good is the one who does not leave his afterlife for the sake of this world and does not leave this world for his afterlife.”Hadith
As the hadith says, Ramadan is a time for taking responsibility for yourself to be in balance in different levels of realities of yours.
We have talked about spiritual preparation for Ramadan here and now it is time to talk about the preparation and tips to take care of your body during Ramadan. How one can live Ramadan with a healthy lifestyle: what to eat and how to exercise during Ramadan?
How to make fasting easier in Ramadan?
- Have an adequate and balanced diet.
- Eat intermittently after iftar (evening meal when the fast is broken) and in small portions at a time instead of having large portions at once.
- Take short walks for 1-2 hours after iftar to help digestion.
- Eat slowly and chew every bit of the food to the end. Practice mindful eating.
- Interrupting sleep at its sweetest moment and waking up in the middle of the night is not easy but it is important that you have your suhoor. Do not skip it.
What to eat in Ramadan?
- For suhoor, you can simply have breakfast with cheese, eggs, olives, honey, and whole-grain bread or you might as well prefer a light meal such as soup, olive oil dishes, or salad.
- You should avoid food that both energizes and raise blood sugar immediately for example; white bread, rice, fried potatoes. Instead, eat wholemeal foods high in fiber such as bulgur, whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, etc. As they have a low glycaemic index, wholemeal foods are absorbed slowly into your body and maintain blood sugar levels while fasting.
- One wise thing to is to start iftar with a light dish like soup or salad and take a 10-15-minute break. This will help your hunger calm down and you will not eat large portions at once.
- Drink water frequently between iftar and sohuur, even if you don’t feel thirsty. In addition to water, you can prefer milk, plain soda, freshly squeezed fruit, vegetable juices, and herbal teas such as instead of drinks containing caffeine.
- Pay attention to your fluid intake to prevent constipation that may occur due to changes in diet. Foods with high fiber content (legumes – dry beans, lentils, chickpeas – whole grains and whole wheat bread, vegetables, and salad) should be preferred in meals. Fresh and dried fruits such as dates, walnuts, almonds, etc., and compotes should be consumed.
How to lose weight during Ramadan?
In addition to doing exercise, one should also pay attention to their diet in Ramadan. It is common knowledge that fasting offers many benefits for metabolism keeping the digestive system immobile for a long time. As a result, the body has a serious detox.
However, just fasting does not automatically and magically mean losing weight, unfortunately. Especially, when you eat huge amounts of food for iftar at once and all you do is eating and drinking between iftar and suhoor.
The quality and nutrition content of the foods you consume makes a huge difference in addition to the exercises you do.
What is more, the hours we have iftar and suhoor are not, under normal circumstances, the best time to eat as the body tends to store food before sleeping as we do not move during sleep.
A new approach for Ramadan for losing or gaining weight instead of only taking a diet
If you want to lose weight during this Ramadan, maybe you can try another approach instead of a diet. You can practice mindful eating-being aware of whatever is entering from your mouth and eating slowly and with awareness. Your intention could be also to try to catch your thoughts and beliefs about your body shape and weight.
If you are catching yourself giving negative messages about your body, you can simply try to bring the light of your awareness and change the way you talk to yourself. You can read here more about how to self-reflect during Ramadan.
This video of How to get healthy without dieting by Darya Rose can inspire you!
Now, let us take a closer look at the ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and even lose weight during Ramadan.
Ramadan diet tips #1. Don’t eat huge portions all at once
Tranquilized during the day, the human body is vulnerable and not in the state to digest large portions of food received all at once. Therefore, this is one of the golden rules to follow if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle during Ramadan, as well. Just as in ancient times, you can have iftar in two parts as mini meals. You can break your fast with dates, soup, or light breakfast such as olives and cheese and wake up your all-day-sleeping stomach. After waiting for 20-30 minutes, you will eat less as you have already calmed down your hunger.
Ramadan diet tips #2. Drink a lot of water
Fasting during warm seasons causes the body to spend more water than usual. For this reason, you should drink at least 2-3 liters of water outside of fasting hour. When to drink water is also especially important. It is not recommended to drink a lot of water when breaking the fast or right after iftar as it dilutes the stomach acid and thus negatively affects the digestion process. You can start drinking water 30-45 minutes after breaking your fast.
Ramadan diet tips #3. Eat foods that boost your metabolism
Foods that boost metabolism help lose weight by allowing the body to expend energy even when you do not exercise.
Healthy food for Ramadan
Here are some metabolism-friendly foods to be consumed during Ramadan.
Best foods to eat during Ramadan #1. Lentils
Lentils are full of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Protein and fiber help you keep feeling full, accelerate digestion, and function greatly in removing toxins from the colon. Thus, it accelerates your metabolism. Moreover, lentils protect from obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and various cancers.
Best foods to eat during Ramadan #2. Red hot pepper
Capsaicin, which gives red pepper its hotness properties, accelerates the metabolism. Upon being received by the body, it increases the metabolic rate up to 2 times for a long time. Even though there are capsules that contain red hot pepper sold outside, you can simply benefit from it naturally by adding it to your meals regularly.
Best foods to eat during Ramadan #3. Fibrous foods
Fiber is the indigestible part of food that helps the metabolism to accelerate by increasing the energy that the body consumes. Fibrous foods also regulate bowel movements and keep you full for longer periods. It also keeps the blood sugar in balance, which is vital in Ramadan as one can not eat for long hours. Great examples of foods rich in fiber are oat, whole wheat products, oranges, grapefruit, pumpkin seed, almonds, apricots, and green leafy vegetables. etc.
Best foods to eat during Ramadan #4. Foods containing protein
It takes longer for the body to digest foods that contain protein than those containing carbohydrates. As a result, the digestive system spends more time and energy consuming protein. Taking this information into account, it would be wise to consume light foods rich in protein for suhoor such as eggs, milk, yogurt rather than red meat.
Best foods to eat during Ramadan #5. Green tea
It has been shown by some studies that green tea, which is a good source of antioxidants, helps lose weight by accelerating metabolism. Green tea contains a phytochemical structure that affects metabolism. It is advised to drink it between iftar and before you go to sleep. And, you should not drink more than two cups. Likewise, it is possible to speed up the metabolism with coffee consumption. It is known that the coffee consumed before sports increases the energy burned during sports.
Exercise during Ramadan
During fasting, it is NOT recommended to do weight loss training as the body is deprived of water and carbs and it burns protein which leads to muscle loss.
I am running daily around 7:00-7:45 for a long time now. This Ramadan I intend to continue my activity but maybe instead of running I will try to walk and see and I will adapt according to my needs.
Not only what exercises you do but also when you do those exercises make a huge difference for a healthy exercise plan during Ramadan. It is already known that doing the exercise right before or after eating is not advisable. Then, let’s explore the best hours to do exercise during Ramadan.
Ramadan workout time options #1. After Taraweeh prayers
The best time to do weight training in Ramadan is after Taraweeh (night prayers) prayers when you have consumed and digested meals and also have a hydrated body to do the workout.
Ramadan workout time options #2. After iftar before Taraweeh prayers
If you consider the first option to be too late, you can also work out the time interval between iftar and Taraweeh prayers. For 30 minutes, you can do a high-intensity workout like sprinting. Although it takes 10 minutes, it is working efficiently when it comes to fat burning and muscle preservation. After that, you can go to Taraweeh prayers which will be a nice addition to your workout.
Ramadan workout time options #3. Before suhoor
The best time to lose fat with cardio is before suhoor(pre-dawn meal). Experts recommend moderate exercises such as brisk walk, slow jogging, and cycling. These moderate exercises can also be done 30 minutes after a light iftar.
Finally, keep in mind that all workouts should be maximum of 60 minutes long and be limited to twice a week. The focus here is maintenance not pushing the limits of the body which is already challenged enough by limited eating and drinking.
This Ramadan, open your heart. Slow down, be aware of your physical and spiritual realities. Enjoy each bite that you eat and the water that you drink. Maybe instead of doing daily running with the sunrise, have a mild walk and go to give your praises to the sun.
Practice more mindfulness than anything else. Whatever is your intention leave it out there and then wander around by opening your heart.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Ramadan Board!