It is really important to learn how we can maintain our physical and mental health especially when we are fasting for long periods of times and thus no food or water are consumed, also how we can save our energy and learn how to not feel deprived and exhausted on the day time.
Have to say that this article is concerned more with people who train to muscle build, so you will find some of the ideas against some of the basic knowledge about how to keep weight during Ramadan, as bodybuilders or muscle training athletes have different requirements than ordinary people and the ordinary methods to prevent weight gain during the holy month.
Let’s have an insight look
Aside from the great spiritual, religious benefits that we luckily get to experience during the holy month, there is also some actual physical benefits that we can mention that helps cleansing the body and let you literally be a better person. As for those benefits:
- Restored insulin sensitivity and nutrient partitioning.
- Higher growth hormone output during the fasts.
- A great chance for an anabolic rebound at the end.
- Improved mental discipline.
- A chance to allow training/diet to run in the background and to focus on higher priorities.
And as a start let’s mention the popular fasting myths:
- Metabolism Slows Down. Studies show that fasting doesn’t decrease your metabolism. And more frequent meals don’t increase it either.
- Muscle & Strength Loss. Fasting doesn’t cause muscle loss. You’ll most likely feel stronger & more aggressive training fasted.
- Low Energy. You’ll have energy if you eat enough during your feeding window. Productivity will increase since you’re not wasting time on food.
Of course working out in Ramadan sounds tough and pointless, but trust me it makes such a difference than just sitting during the day at work or at home just waiting for Maghreb prayers.
The vital part to make you able to experience the whole concept of being an active person while fasting, or an active person after Iftar relies basically on nutrition; how you eat and when you eat is really important but also how you workout and when makes the whole deal. This will be discussed thoroughly in the next lines. The major concern for people who are aware of the importance of working out during Ramadan and their biggest foe is “injuries”. Our bodies can be vulnerable to injuries while fasting more than in any other status, so it is important to know how to work out without the injuries hazards.
Let’s have a look at these generic ideas about how to safely workout during Ramadan:
Don’t Stop Working Out
The first and most important tip comes right at the beginning; don’t stop working out. Your body maintains muscle mass as long as it feels it’s needed. When you stop exercising, it will slowly build back what it feels is unnecessary luggage costing extra energy.
Even though you may not make gains in muscle mass during Ramadan, you can at least preserve what you have if you keep your schedule up.
- Adjust Intensity
In your regular schedule you may be able to do huge amounts of weight when you do bench presses. 90 lbs curls you handle without batting an eye. But if you usually do your workouts in the late afternoons and then try the same intensity during Ramadan it won’t work. On a typical Ramadan day you have fasted for 8 to 10 hours and a busy day is behind you. Under those circumstances pulling off your usual intensity will be very hard to do.There is nothing wrong with you here, your carbohydrate reserves are depleted and carbohydrates are what let you work out with intensity. So go a bit lower with your intensity.What you may want to do is either adjust the weights you are using or the number of reps. You can also lower the weight if you fail to reach your normal number of minimum reps.
Adjust Workout Times
This should work especially well if you can adjust to having your workouts within a couple of hours of the morning meal(sohour), as your carbohydrate reserves will then be quite high. If your workouts take place after a long day of fasting, you might feel rather drained.
Work out When It Feels Best
However, many people of course can’t simply go and do their workouts when they would be most beneficial, especially during Ramadan.
A bit of flexibility might help. Instead of doing your workouts at your normal times, during Ramadan do them when you have time and feel the most energetic.
Here are some strategies that can be part of your plan:
1 – Try to eat clean, but also eat with the following two purposes in mind:
a) Adjust evening food choices to match your appetite: I would guess that most people would have a hard time getting enough calories in this month due to the very short eating window and stomach-shrinking. As a result, aim for more calorie-dense foods and avoid dietary allergens (particularly pasta & milk) to prevent bloating; rice, whey, chicken, fatty cuts of meat, pastries, sweets, fruit, ice-cream, whatever you need. However, if you have a superhuman appetite and tend to overeat, begin your sohour with lean protein and fibrous vegetables to curb appetite before moving on to the direct carbohydrate sources.
b) Getting sufficient protein: Eat your protein first, followed by carbs.
2- Don’t deliberately aim for a calorie deficit.
If calories are too low, you’ll be worn down and under-recovered from the training program. The only fitness goal you should realistically aim to pursue is maintenance during this month. You will find that you lose fat naturally from the fast, but don’t try to force it. If you’re unsure, track calories twice per week to gauge an average, just to ensure you’re not drastically over or under-eating, as portions can be misleading when eating a day’s worth of food over a short period.
3 – Stay hydrated at night. Aim for at least 2.5 liters:
Try to spread this out throughout the evening, so you don’t flush it all and end up thirsty the next day.
4– Carbohydrates in The Morning
Another reason for a morning meal is that you can not only have some protein at that time, but also carbohydrates. And as carbs let you work out with intensity, loading up some of them in the mornings should counter a lack of carbs during the day.
So consuming good amounts of calories on sohour will give you enough reserve to use them on the next day during the workout and during the fasting day generally.
5 – You won’t ‘go catabolic’ during the fast:
The potentially catabolic part is too large of a WEEKLY CALORIE DEFICIT and INSUFFICIENT PROTEIN. This won’t be a problem if you follow the above guidelines. While fasting is technically a catabolic process, you’ll offset any muscle loss by eating sufficient calories.
6-You want to avoid having one big meal, and eating it quickly:
Because you need to let your metabolism and digestive system activate. It’s better to spread out your food groups and eat slowly.
And these are the common Ramadan mistakes to avoid:
- Not Training: You won’t lose much muscle & strength if you stop weight lifting during Ramadan. But you’ll tend to stick to your diet less. And this can cause more muscle/strength loss and fat gains than not lifting.
- Not Eating Healthy: Lots of people gain fat during Ramadan. The main reason for this is that a lot of Ramadan foods are high in sugars & fats.
- Not Eating Enough: Food is energy. If you don’t eat enough you’ll lack energy at the gym and won’t recover well.
- Not Sleeping Enough: Short nights can cause sleep deprivation. This can kill your motivation to go to the gym. Consider naps.