By: Dr. Passant Saleh Clinical Nutrition Specialist (MD) and lifestyle influencer.
During the Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims practice daily fasting from dawn until sunset. Ramadan is a time to practice self control, self discipline and empathy for those less fortunate. Fasting during Ramadan can improve one’s health if it’s done in the proper way. By following these simple guidelines, it can improve your health and may help you to lose weight.
Hydration Comes First
- Drink plenty of water and eat hydrating foods during Ramadan.
- Consume more fruits and vegetables that are refreshing, such as cucumber, lettuce, and other vegetables that are high in fibre with the goodness of hydrating properties. It not only helps your body feel cool, but is also a great choice to keep you skin healthy and avoid constipation during Ramadan.
- Avoid foods that are too spicy or salty.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola, because caffeine can make some people urinate more often, which may lead to dehydration. Fizzy drinks with sugar will add calories to your diet.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water distributed in small quantities so you don’t feel so bloated; it can be broken down like this:
- 2 glasses at iftar
- 4 glasses in between iftar and suhur – not more than one glass per hour
- 2 glasses at suhur
Light and balanced iftar; being active is key
Many people tend to eat more during Ramadan and this can lead to weight gain.
Eat a healthy Iftar, eating starters and sweets in moderation, choosing more fruits and vegetables, avoiding sweetened beverages, and being active everyday will help you maintain your weight.
Eat the Right Amount of Calories suits your metabolic rate. Choose whole grains, which provide the body with energy and fibers, grilled lean meat, skinless chicken and fish, to get a good portion of healthy protein. In general, avoid fried and processed foods high in fat or sugar. Enjoy your meal and avoid overeating by eating slowly.
Rejuvenate your body with dates. Dates are potassium rich fruit and excellent food-item to break your fast. It not only helps you hydrate quickly, but also gives you instant energy to make you feel rejuvenated after the long-hours of fasting.
Slow down and organize your meals. People who suffer from headache or dizziness due to low blood sugar levels during the fasting period should break the fast at iftar time by starting with 2-3 dates which will help replenish blood sugar levels, then a glass of water or milk, then start the meal with a warm bowl of soup, a salad and the main course.
Starting your iftar meal with a warm soup comforts the stomach after a long day of fasting, replenishes your body with fluids and helps prepare the digestive system for this meal.
Eating your soup and salad slowly at iftar will help you feel full and prevent you from overeating later from the main dish and sweets.
You can delay your main course until after your Maghreb prayer. This will ensure that you have enough time to digest your dates, soup and salad, preventing you from feeling uncomfortable.
Divide your main course into three parts. Have 1/4 of the plate filled with complex carbohydrates, 1/4 with lean meat or meat alternatives, and 1/2 with vegetables. This will ensure that you have a healthy balanced meal.
Right foods at suhoor provide long-lasting energy until iftar
Pay attention to the selection of food during suhoor. It’s important that the food you consume keeps you hydrated. Eating complex carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables, beans and lentils will provide you with a long-lasting source of energy throughout the day. Include low fat dairy products, such as cottage cheese with olive oil (as source healthy unsaturated fat) or laban and yogurt.
Ramadan and exercises
Make sure that during the day you do very light activities such as walking, because you won’t be able to drink any water during the day. You can do high intensity fat loss workouts after iftar, you should save your high intensity workouts or any workouts that make you sweat for nighttime where you can drink all the water you want. Aim for 30 min of vigorous exercise a day that you can at home such as lunges, sit-ups burpees, and squats.
Meal suggestions during Ramadan
One cup dates with milk with honey or
Yogurt with honey or
One cup (beleelah) with milk
2nd meal (after taraweeh):
One bowl vegetables soup
Yogurt with cucumber salad
1/4 bread slice
1/4 chicken or 1/3 kilo fish
1/4 bread slice