How to stay fit and healthy during Ramadan

Nutritionist Lulwa Alarmali provides tips on making your fast as healthy as possible
Ever feel like you’re about to crash during Ramadan? Justifiably, fasting can have that effect. But you don’t have to spend the holy month feeling exhausted.

Ever feel like you’re about to crash during Ramadan? Justifiably, fasting can have that effect. But you don’t have to spend the holy month feeling exhausted.

Ever feel like you’re about to crash during Ramadan? Justifiably, fasting can have that effect. But you don’t have to spend the holy month feeling exhausted.

Here’s how to maintain a healthy and balanced diet as told by in-house nutritionist Lulwa Alarmali at luxury Dubai gym Embody Fitness.

1. Stay hydrated

Don't leave all your water-intake to the last few hours of your day, Alarmali advices. To stay hydrated during your fast, aim for 250-500ml of water per hour during the hours you're not fasting. Otherwise, the body will excrete it if it's too much in one go.

2. Avoid crashing

Don't break your fast with high sugar or large amounts of refined carbohydrates such as white breads, pastries, white rice, and juices or sodas, Alarmali says. “This will result in an insulin spike followed shortly by a crash, which will trigger cravings for more high-sugar foods, resulting in somewhat of a cycle.

Instead, to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and eliminate bad craving, consume foods high in protein and healthy fats, and choose slow digesting carbohydrates,” she says.

3. Thermodynamics & electrolyte balance

The concept of thermodynamics (energy in versus energy out) still applies to weight management during Ramadan, according to the expert, making it possible for people to gain weight or lose it depending on the amount of food they consume between the Maghreb and Fajer prayers.

“Electrolyte balance is important in order to avoid feelings of thirst. Before the Fajer prayer, have a banana or a few dates for their potassium content. If you're avoiding sugary foods, have an electrolyte drink or powdered greens mixed with water,” she says.

4. Protein power

“If you train before breaking your fast, it's important to supplement immediately with fast-digesting proteins and possibly carbs. Whey protein is a great option for breaking your fast, before starting your main meal.

BCAAs or an essential amino acid drink works just as well if you're avoiding dairy, as whey comes from milk. Casein is a slow digesting milk protein, which can be taken before the Fajer prayer to provide a slow releasing source of protein during the fast,” says Alarmali.

5. Training times

The best times to train during Ramadan is either early in the morning soon after your last meal, directly before breaking your fast, or 1-2 hours after breaking it, Alarmali says. This allows your body to use external fuel sources rather than breaking down muscle and protein without the ability to recover.

6. Don’t forget your fibre

“Having a high fibre meal as your last meal is essential for preventing hunger during your fast,” says Alarmali, adding that it keeps the stomach fuller for longer and doesn't result in an insulin spike, eliminating sugar or carbohydrate cravings.

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