|Photo: Arif Feroze|
By Elouise Kellerman
The Optimal Ramadan Strategy:
There are two types of people during this blessed month of Ramadan; those who gain weight, and those who lose weight. This mainly depends on appetite, although the more common outcome of a short eating window and stomach-shrinking is that people tend to over or under eat and get run-down as a result.
It’s all about maximizing nutrient uptake, maintaining proper hydration, and modifying key fat burning/muscle building hormones in your favor during this month. And of course PREPARATION—if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!
Plus, how can you truly maximize this month spiritually if your body is sick, tired, and your mind isn’t sharp?
Aim for more calorie-dense foods and avoid foods that might normally bloat you up, e.g. overdoing the oats or dairy.
However, if you’re the type that can tend to overeat: begin your suhur with lean protein and fibrous vegetables to curb appetite before moving on to the direct carbohydrate sources.
Protein Goal and Calorie Goal:
Don’t aim for specific macros during this month: eat your protein first, aiming for 2g/kg bodyweight daily and a calorie goal (maintenance) made up from any combination of carbs and fats.
You may find that you naturally eat a deficit from the restricted eating window, but this is not the time to try to force it. Remember, portions can be misleading when eating a day’s worth of food over a short period.
Stay hydrated at night. Aim for at least 2.5 liters of water or even coconut water, which is a great source of electrolytes. Try to spread your liquid consumption out throughout the evening, so you don’t flush it all and end up thirsty the next day.
You won’t ‘go catabolic’ during the fast if you follow the above guidelines. While fasting is technically a catabolic process, you’ll offset any muscle loss by eating sufficient calories and signalling your body to retain muscle with the training program.
Great Smart Smoothie to begin suhur with:
· 1 Banana
· 1 cup of Frozen Summer Berries
· 1 tbsp. Chai Seeds
· 1 tbsp. Goji-Berries
· 1 tbsp. Almond or Peanut Butter
· 1 Scoop of Protein or Yogurt
· 100ml Coconut Water
· 100ml Lactose Free Milk or Almond Milk
The best time to do a weight training workout is not while fasting. Training while in a state of dehydration can decrease strength significantly which can create muscle breakdown, which can actually be more detrimental than beneficial.
The best time to weight train during Ramadan is after Taraweh prayers at night. This will ensure that you will have had several meals and plenty of water in your system before going to the gym. This will also allow you to consume your all-important post workout meal or shake which is essential for muscle growth and even fat loss. If this is too late then the next best time to weight train is about 1 hour after Iftar. You could do a short but intense 30 minute workout.
As for cardio workouts, the best time for maximum fat loss is before suhur. Of course, most people I know will not want to get up at around 3:00 am and do cardio! If you CAN pull this off then the best thing to do is get up and drink plenty of water with a cup of coffee or green tea, wait 30 minutes and perform 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity cardio work like a brisk walk on a treadmill.
Short, high intensity cardio like sprinting is actually GREAT TO DO DURING RAMADAN. It takes less than 10 minutes and provides maximum benefit in terms of fat burning and lean muscle preservation! This isn’t “driving miss Daisy” cardio—it’s very intensive. E.g. sprint for 20-30 seconds at full speed (like a dog is chasing you!) and walk for 1 minute. Do 4-5 cycles like that and you’re good! Start slow of course and work your way up.
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