Health Tips | 23/04/2020

Healthy foods for a healthy Ramadan

By Sid Mohiuddin
Copywriter, SSSPORTS.COM

Within a few hours, we will be entering the Holy month of Ramadan. As is the norm, fasting in Ramadan means to not eat or drink during daylight hours; eating just one meal before dawn and another after dusk.

Though it may seem daunting, fasting in Ramadan has been scientifically proven to be extremely beneficial to the body.
During fasting hours the body uses its stores of carbohydrate and fats to provide energy, thereby enhancing digestion, decreasing insulin-resistance, increasing metabolism and flushing out toxins produced by our body.

Though this seems like a great opportunity to lose weight, it can end up in people actually gaining weight due to certain food choices. The purpose of this blog is to ensure you derive the maximum benefit of Ramadan while you continue through the quarantine phase.

We will be covering the following touch-points of a typical day in Ramadan:

  1. Suhoor
  2. Iftar
  3. Exercise
  4. Dinner
SUHOOR

Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal and is taken to prepare for the fast. Therefore, it should contain a wholesome meal with foods that provide long-lasting energy and are high in fibre.

  • Oats, muesli with milk or yogurt are a good option with fresh/dried fruit, nuts or seeds as toppings. They keep full, energized and hydrated for longer.
  • High fibre cereals provide plenty of fibre and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals. Because they are consumed with milk, you are supplemented with dairy nutrients as well.
  • Starchy foods like rice or semolina are slow-digesting and keep you full for longer too. Avoid excess salt as that might induce thirst during the day.
  • Yogurt can be included at suhoor as it provides nutrients like protein, calcium, iodine and vitamins. It also soothes the digestion tract and avoids heart-burns.
  • Wholegrain breads provide fibre and power up the body’s glycogen storage. As bread is fairly dry, make sure you drink plenty of water or include soups to compensate.
  • Avoid drinking too much water as that will result in water loss over the day by frequent visits to the washroom.

Over-eating is not recommended as this causes surges and drops in blood sugar levels, thereby leading to weight-gain and other harmful effects. A thumb-rule to go by is to one-third of the stomach for food, one-third for water and one-third for air.

Healthy foods for a healthy Ramadan
IFTAR

Iftar is the post-dusk meal that signifies the end of the fast. Therefore, it is recommended to go for fluids, low-fat foods containing natural sugars to replenish the low energy and water levels due to the fast.

  • Water, milk, fruit juices and smoothies are some of the best options. Try not to have a lot of ‘added sugar’ products.
  • Dates are traditionally eaten to break the fast since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. They are the best source of potassium, copper and manganese and fibre along with sucrose. Figs come in a close second.
  • Fruits provide natural sugars for energy, vitamins and minerals. Bananas, Oranges, Apples, Watermelons, Sweet Melons, Cherries, Strawberries – the list is long and it’s hard to go wrong with the various options.
  • Soups are traditional in many countries because it is light on the stomach. Meat broth, pulses, lentil and bean soups are common options but feel free to experiment.

It is highly advised to not over-eat as this stresses the digestive with a sudden intake of large amounts of food. Again, a thumb-rule to go by is one-third of the stomach for food, one-third for water and one-third for air.

DINNER

After a long day’s fast, it’s natural to want to treat yourself. However, try to keep the amount of fatty and sugary foods to a small amount. We got 3 recipes for healthy snacks that will curb those cravings in a healthier manner. Choose foods that cater to macronutrients – Starchy foods, wholegrains, vegetables, dairy foods and protein-rich foods like meat and pulses allow the body to recuperate and re-energize for the next day of fasting.

Alternatively, this meal can be as a post-workout meal. This would mean including high-protein foods with a side of carbs, fats and essential nutrients to help in post-workout recovery.

Exercise for a healthy Ramadan
EXERCISE

The time to exercise is a personal choice and depends largely on an individual’s energy levels and motivation. Common schedules are as follows:

  1. Suhoor, Iftar, Exercise, Dinner – The most common schedule. Iftar allows depleted energy levels to be replenished which help in working out, followed by dinner that serves as a post-workout meal.
  2. Suhoor, Iftar, Dinner, Exercise – This schedule allows you to workout uninterrupted as it is slotted after the prayers. Ensure to eat a light dinner to avoid feeling lethargic during the workout. A post-workout meal would certainly be helpful.
  3. Suhoor, Exercise, Iftar, Dinner – If you feel motivated enough to lose weight, this would help. In this case, iftar would be the post-workout meal. It also enables you more time to pray and sleep. An intense workout would not be advisable as it pushes the body to the extreme and would result in over-eating at iftar.
  4. Exercise, Suhoor, Iftar, Dinner – One for the early-birds. If done correctly, this is by far the ideal schedule to make significant gains and have ample time for yourself throughout the day. Give it a shot if you are serious about making gains even if you are fasting.

Over the past few weeks, we have shared a lot home workouts for specific fitness goals. You may pick and choose the ones most suitable for your goals.

  1. POWER AND YOGA WORKOUTS
  2. AGILITY, CARDIO AND STRENGTH WORKOUTS

These quarantine-optimised workouts are simple, effective and barely require any equipment. Don’t forget to maintain good hygiene and clean the equipment after your workout.
Tag us in your home workouts and meals on instagram @sunsandsports.
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Stay home, stay safe.

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