The 30-day fasting period during the Holy Month of Ramadan gives a chance to the Muslims around the world to indulge in their favourite foods, which can mean a huge dietary upheaval and metabolic mayhem in contrast to the usual fitness routines, but a good amount of planning and the right guidance on diet, nutrition, and exercise can go a long way towards effectively progressing towards your weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
With fasting extending from sunrise to sunset in Ramadan, it is often seen that many people end up a little heavier than they started by the end of the month. Such weight gains can have negative consequences on your health, even a gain of a few kilos of belly fat can put individuals at a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
The reason people tend to gain weight during Ramadan despite fasting an average of 12 hours a day is a high caloric intake than usual and hardly any physical activity to burn it. For instance, Muslims tend to consume huge chunks of food at iftar during the non-fasting time and again at suhur. Frequent consumption of fatty and sugary foods during Ramadan is what adds to the problems. The huge range of foods to choose from, their easy availability at the markets, and excess consumption during the non-fasting time of the day significantly leads to one putting on weight. The other important reason for the weight gain is the disruptive sleep cycle that greatly impacts the release of many hormones and chemicals that regulate carbohydrate metabolism and metabolic rate. Not to mention, the frequent invitation from friends and family members during this Holy period greatly adds to the woes.
Fortunately, this Holy Month provides a great opportunity to modify diet for many Muslims who wishes to lose weight and maintain it. Where fasting brings spiritual benefits, it also helps in enriching one’s health.
Ways Ramadan can be helpful in losing weight or at least maintain it is firstly by understanding the spiritual essence of the period by controlling hunger and worldly desires, and secondly, by including healthy meal choices at the iftar table as well as at suhur. For example, go for wholemeal products (brown flour, brown bread, brown pasta and food that are high in fibre) instead of refined carbohydrates (white flour, rice, white bread and sugar). Wholemeal carbohydrates will help maintain your blood sugar level while you are fasting, as they have low glycaemic index.
Changes one should make in their eating habits during Ramadan to help in weight reduction:
Stay Hydrated- On the surface it may seem impossible with the long fasting hours, but hydration is key to weight loss during Ramadan. Besides helping you to stay hydrated while you fast, drinking enough fluids will also control your sugar cravings after you break your fast. Aim for a good two litres or eight glasses of fluids a day. Remember, caffeinated drinks such as coffee or black tea do not count, so steer clear of it.
Have a light iftar- Don’t have a heavy iftar, the iftar meal isn’t supposed to make up for those hours that you went without food. Let the fact that you haven’t eaten all day go out of your mind and imagine as if you are sitting down for your dinner meal and eat accordingly. Dates can be a good option after a fast, they are a quick source of sugar your body needs after a fast, making it a good choice to break your fast with. But do not have more than one date because of their high sugar content. Follow it up with a small portion of soup, such as a vegetable or lentil soup. Follow that with a mixed vegetable salad. Let go of all other appetizers including the carbohydrate rich ones. Take a break after you are done with your appetizers. Complete your prayers, and when it’s time to resume your meal, choose only one main dish (avoid fried dishes), which should be balanced in carbs and protein, and most importantly control your portions.
Don’t skip Suhur- Suhur meal is the pre-dawn breakfast before the fast, skipping which will make you hungrier the next day, ending up in you overeating for iftar. Also when selecting your suhur, make sure it is limited in salt to avoid getting thirsty the next day.
Proper Exercise- Do not use fasting as an excuse to sleep all day or be laid-back. It is important during Ramadan to keep up your usual daily activity level to a certain extent. Aim for 30 mins of vigorous exercise a day- after you break your fast- that you can do from home such as burpees, lunges, sit-ups and squats. Consult with a professional for a personalized home plan suitable for you.
Learn Quran online to know more about the significance of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
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