Qatar nutritionists have warned Ramadan fasters against overeating at night as they revealed appointments for weight loss advice traditionally soar by 50 percent after the holy month.
“People tend to gain weight during Ramadan despite fasting. We see a 50 percent increase in consultations after Ramadan as people realise they have gained weight,” Sana Zein El Abidine, operations manager at Slim’n Lite Health and Diet Food Centre in Doha, told Arabian Business.
El Abidine warned that people tend to gain weight because they do not break their fast in the right way.
“They tend to overcompensate [by] having different meals high in fat and in sugar. They continue eating between Iftar and Sohour, so the problem is the quantity and the quality of food.”
If residents want to avoid gaining weight while breaking the fast, El Abidine advised eating vegetables and soups, which are more filling but have less calories, instead of rice or meat.
She said eating slower is a good way to regulate weight gain: “It takes 20 minutes for the brain to send the message that the stomach is full. If you eat fast you can eat double the amount than if you eat slowly". She also recommended replacing juices with water as these are high in calories and very sugary.
However, several studies show that Ramadan can have a positive impact on people’s health as it helps lower the level of LDL cholesterol in the body, said Cosette Fakih, head dietician at Diet Delights Nutrition Centre in Doha.
“Ramadan should help people losing weight, but people don’t always comply with the principles of Ramadan” said Fakih. Beside the reduced calories, Ramadan has another beneficial effect.
“Ramadan teaches people to self-control. During Ramadan people fast for more than ten hours and this requires a strong will power and self-control that if we keep even after Ramadan it can help achieving a healthy lifestyle” Fakih added.
Beside these beneficial effects, fasting for so many hours represents a stress for the body and Fakih encouraged people to see a physician before starting so they can set goals.
“People should meet a physician and check if their bodies can handle the stress of fasting. Beside this, even those people taking medications should see a doctor to adjust the schedule of their treatment to the different Ramadan timings,” she added.