I have written this post for both believers and non-believers of the Muslim faith. In this post, you will learn how to take advantage of the period to adopt new nutritional habits.
First, before you go further with this blog post, you need to understand fasting and its benefits. I wrote a post about fasting here ( Click this link) and also published a podcast about fasting (Click the links below.)
RAMADAN or Ramadan is one of the holiest months of the year of Muslims. During this month, Muslims observe the revelation of Qur’an by fasting from food and drinks from dawn to dusk.
It is believed that fasting draws Muslims close to God and rejuvenates spiritual values like self-control, gratitude and deep compassion for the less fortunate in the society.
In observing this month, faithful are guided by the five pillars of Islam which are;
1. Profession of faith (Shahada)
2. Prayer (Salat)
3. Alms (Zakat)
4. Fasting (Sawm)
5. Pilgrimage (Hajj).
A part from spiritual rejuvenation in the person observing Ramadan, fasting during Ramadan can also offer other benefits that promote the health and wellness of a person.
Non-believers may also use this opportunity to fast in order to promote their metabolic and nutritional health.
Here are essential tips on how anyone can achieve desired health and wellness goals during the month of Ramadan.
Skip the morning meal
During the early morning, there is a spike in counter regulatory hormones like cortisol, glucagon, adrenaline and growth hormones. These hormones promote a steady spike of blood glucose from 4am to around Midday.
Skipping the morning meal allows the body to maximize the use of available blood glucose for morning activities. The body can also mobilize fats for morning energy through a process known as gluconeogenesis.
However, one can beat cravings by drinking sugarless black coffee or black/green tea or two table spoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water.
Even though water is not allowed during Ramadan, non-believers can choose to actively hydrate. Water provides the right environment for cells to carry out their bio-chemical activities.
An average adult may drink up to 3litres of water per day but water should be drunk in response to the thirst reflect. Too much water may deplete sodium which is an important mineral.
For anyone hoping to achieve fitness goals especially in relation to weight loss, then working out during Ramadan is considered important.
You can choose to focus on strength training by mastering compound workout in the gym or at home.
The best time to work out during Ramadan is in the evening 1 -2 hours before breaking fast. Working out at this time is considered the best because immediately after workout, the body craves for water and minerals. It is therefore logical that eating after workout would only be viable in the evening.
Eating small portion during Ramadan trains your mindset to adapt to small meals. During Ramadan the gut switches into self-cleansing mode in order to regenerate and restore its digestive functions. Eating large portions will load the gut with unnecessary bulky tasks therefore exposing you to bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Too much food in the gut may lead to bloating, indigestion and constipation. In suhoor (morning meal) and Iftar (evening meal) it is advisable not to go into compensatory mode of eating to fill up the gut. Eating a small meal will accelerate metabolic and hormonal activities during digestion and absorption of food.
Avoid sugar, junk and processed foods
The reason why people observing a fast may not achieve much result is because they break the fast with foods that spike insulin and promote fat storage.
The commonest assumption within people who fast is that eating junk food and sugar has no metabolic consequences during fasting. This is a myth. Whereas fasting promotes glycemic control because of lower insulin activity, junk foods and sugar restore the deleterious effects of insulin. They also dump harmful radicals and cytotoxic oxidants into cellular activities therefore predisposing you to metabolic inflammation.
Sugar, sugary drink, refined flour (e.g. wheat) and processed foods will reverse the small gains the body has achieved during the 12-hour fast. It is therefore beneficial to eat wholly organic foods like pumpkins, beans, green bananas, sweet potatoes and arrow roots.
Eat meat, eggs and fats.
Proteins and fats are satiating therefore one can go for longer hours without having the cravings for food. They are also very nutritious because they are packed with essential amino acids and vitamin B complex. I published a post about RED MEAT here ( Click this link)
The seed oils that are popularly known as ‘salad’ or ‘vegetable oils’ eg canola, sunflower oil, corn oil and soy oil are toxic and inflammatory, you should therefore discard them and prioritize healthy fats. The best fats are the natural fats like tallow, butter, ghee and coconut oil.
Focus on mental hygiene
Train your mental clarity by avoiding distractions and focusing on the most important activities of the day. You can wake up early and practice 4Bs
Benediction: connecting into your spiritual essence by a prayer or meditation or reading a book or journaling. This activity declutters your mind and will ensure your mind prepares for the day ahead.
Bed: After decluttering your mind, then begin to declutter your physical space. You can make your bed, draw the curtains and open the windows to allow air and natural light, arrange your closet, organize your documents, clean the rooms, iron your clothes and polish your shoes.
Body: Take 40 minutes of your early morning to workout. You can concentrate on compound workouts and HIITs. However, during Ramadan, believers can shift their workouts in the evening because there is a need for active hydration post workout.
Bath: Finally, take a cold bath. The cold bath will push you out of the comfort zone and give your mental alertness throughout the day. A cold bath will also promote aggression and you will remain energetic and active during the day.
Regardless of your faith, maybe you are a Christian, Hindu or an atheist, follow these tips religiously and incorporate them in your daily life, make them part of your habits even after the end of Ramadan. You will harvest lifelong, healthy dividends.