Yaz Kubba, a fitness trainer and founder of Yazfit, drinks about 1.5 gallons of water a day.
She started that about 10 years ago, and the first year, when it came time to fast during Ramadan – when Muslims don’t eat or drink, often challenging, when the sun rises – she had to adapt.
“So I tried to squeeze in a gallon of water between sunset and sunrise,” she said.
And it worked. She went to work, exercised and realized she was still hydrated. “It would definitely change the game,” she said.
In later years, she became a steward for an hour while fasting. She has run six miles. “Then, my mouth was literally still watering,” she said.
This does not mean that fasting in Ramadan is easy. Kubba usually eats six to eight meals a day, so she enjoys fasting.
“But this is the whole point of Ramadan, to get your mind off it and connect with the spiritual experience,” she said.
Here is a collection of expert advice on diet, nutrition and wellness how to stay healthy while observing Ramadan. Although the tips are specific to the holy month, many tips are useful for anyone who wants to fast or kickstart a healthy diet.
Fasting can be beneficial
“Fasting brings our system to a healing stage,” said Usma Ghani, a nutritionist and holistic nutritionist registered with Nutriacs.
“It simply came to our notice then [gastrointestinal] The leaflet is constantly working for us, “she said.” So when we give it a rest, we give the body some time to stop, to empty some dead cells, and to do some housekeeping or house cleaning. “
Other benefits of fasting include better blood sugar control, reducing stress and inflammatory processes in your body, and improving heart health and brain function, said Sumia Khan, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Century Kitchen.
But if you are going without eating most of the day, what you put in your body has a big impact on how you feel throughout the day.
“The whole point of Ramadan and fasting is to practice mindfulness, discipline and control,” Khan said. “So practicing mediation, focusing on the company [of family and friends] And pay close attention to why we’re fasting, as well as what you’re eating while eating – it’s really part of the whole package. “
Speed yourself up
“After fasting so many times, you’re so hungry that you start filling your face,” Kubba said. “But then you can’t move.”
So be slow to eat, said Abrar Nellie, a registered dietitian who goes to Nelinutrition on Instagram. Take time to chew. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to get the signal that your stomach is full.
Ramadan is not the best time to start a restricted diet like Keto or Atkins. “Actually, no time is the best time,” Nellie said, “but especially during Ramadan, when you fast for 12-plus hours, you don’t want to deplete your body of nutrients.”
Shamila Malik, a dietitian registered with Fresenius Medical Care North America, says that some people may not eat enough food and go to bed before fasting. But that is a bad idea. You will be hungry at the end of the day, she said, and eating most of your calories at night before you go to bed is bad for your metabolism and it will make you gain weight.
It is better to break your calories: some at suhoor and some at iftar, breaking the fast, she said.
Saumar Haddad, a clinical dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, suggests eating sparingly after fasting. It is a Muslim tradition to break the fast with dates – Prophet Muhammad is said to have broken his fast with three dates – and it also has health benefits. “Dates contain 15 grams of carbohydrates, which is a one-time carbohydrate,” Haddad said. “So it is immediately absorbed into the body so that they increase energy instantly.”
She recommends following up with some bone broth and appetizers to reduce appetite. “Give yourself a little rest, and after your prayers, come back and eat a regular size meal,” she said.
Kubba said that one part of self-presentation is to allow oneself to fulfill various desires in moderation – especially since during Ramadan there are many social gatherings with delicious, very healthy food.
“If you want something high-sodium, that’s fine,” she said. “Unless it’s every day.”
And drink more water to make up for it, she said.
“You have to focus on what you’re eating and when you’re eating, because you don’t want to lose speed and crash,” Malik said. “It could be a daily accident; it could be a mid-month accident.”
What to eat
Generally, high-protein and high-fiber foods give you energy for a long time, as they take a long time to digest and be absorbed by the body. Too much sugar and other common carbohydrates, like white bread will raise your blood sugar levels, and then you will crash and feel hungry.
“A high-protein breakfast would be really beneficial,” Khan said. “Examples of protein foods are eggs, yogurt – Greek yogurt, especially beans, lentils, fish, chicken and nuts.”
Whole-grain carbohydrates (whole grain bread, bagel, turtle, oatmeal, quinoa) and healthy fats (avocado, nuts and seeds) will also help you feel full throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals and also provide hydration.
Another reason to focus on your fiber intake is that fasting often slows down your bowel movements.
“Any change in your sleep habits or diet, such as mealtimes, will cause changes in your bowel movements and hormonal changes in your body,” Haddad said. “Your appetite may be increased and you may retain water and feel bloated, but the way to fight this is with fiber.”
Dietitians say they get a lot of complaints about it during Ramadan, and if anyone has a problem, Ghani advises taking more probiotics, as well as adding flaxseed to your diet. Naely recommends getting a squatty potty, a swirling stool around your toilet that lifts your legs up and keeps your body in optimal position for a healthy bowel movement.
How to hydrate
A good strategy for preventing dehydration is to think about how much water your body needs on a regular day – and to make sure you get the same amount of water between sunset and sunrise.
It doesn’t have to be a gallon like Kubba, but for some, it’s like drinking one or two glasses of water in between each night’s prayer.
“If people find it difficult to drink water, they can add some lemons to it, or have some salsa or tea,” Khan said.
Other tips to reduce thirst:
- Avoid high sodium foods and fried foods. Many chickens can also get thirsty, Haddad said.
- Drink fluids with electrolytes, such as coconut water, bone broth and sugar-free gutta-percha.
- Do not mix water. Drink it slowly and steadily through the straw.
- Eat foods rich in water, including watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, yogurt, broth, nuts, seeds, and dates.
- Try hydrated tea seeds, Nellie said. You can soak them overnight in water or almond milk.
The best way to tell if you are dehydrated is to color your urine. It should be light yellow or clear, so if it is too dark, increase your fluid intake. If you are showing signs of dehydration and fatigue, Naely recommends electrolyte supplements such as Nuun Sport.
Don’t neglect sleep
If you get up before sunrise, eat after sunset, and pray at night, it will be a challenge to get enough sleep.
In Muslim countries, all schedules will be moved to later hours during Ramadan. But in the United States, most people are expected to keep their routine.
Maintaining a normal sleep schedule is important, Nellie said. It also helps regulate hormones that can make you feel hungry and then eat too much.
And if you can, go to sleep. “Don’t lie, during lunch breaks, sometimes I get in my car and I fall asleep,” Nellie said. “People who work from home are lucky because they can go to bed and sleep. A 30 minute power nap is great.”
Some people spend the night in Ramadan and sleep during the day. Malik does not recommend this, but acknowledges that it is possible for a short period of time.
“If you talk to someone from a religious point of view, that’s not the purpose of the month,” she said with a laugh. “It’s about sacrifice. You should not sleep while fasting. It is better to maintain your normal routine.”
How and when to exercise
Just as Ramadan is not the time to start a new diet, it is also not the time to start a new exercise.
“Stick to what you know and take it easy,” Nellie said. “Basically, all forms of movement are going to be good for you.”
When to exercise depends on your fitness level and the type of exercise you are doing.
Haddad, who is a Christian but mostly part of the Muslim Syrian national table tennis team as a teenager, remembers rehearsing in the morning to eat and exercise effectively. Others prefer to work before Iftar, so they can break the fast immediately.
However, doing a lot of cardio or strength training after a full day of fasting can cause fatigue and dizziness.
“I recommend you wait until you break your fast and you eat, so you have more energy to exercise,” Nellie said. “Make sure you already have carbs for energy. And then after a workout you want carbs to replenish the glycogen your body uses and protein to help with muscle recovery.
Or keep it light.
“Flexibility exercises like yoga or pilates or light cardio – walking – don’t require a lot of energy, so they can be done whenever you are able,” Khan said.
Reduce mood swings
Even if you follow all these best practices, you will still be hungry and insane.
“The goal is that when you start to feel hungry or hungry, it’s closer to the time you can break the fast than in the morning or afternoon,” Khan said.
Malik blames too much mood swings on carbohydrates. “Those emotional swings are triggered by glucose swings,” she said. “If you have a lot of carbohydrates, you have a quick glycemic reaction, because carbohydrates make glucose faster than protein.”
When you’re hungry, try to distract yourself. Take a power jump. If it’s not too hot outside the sun will dehydrate you, walk fast. Vitamin D and endorphins can help, Nellie said.
Or practice gratitude.
“Ramadan is a time of reflection, discipline and gratitude for our blessings,” Khan said. “And also acknowledging that we are lucky to be able to break our fast with beautiful meals with family and friends. Not everyone has that opportunity or privilege.”
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