How to Stay Healthy During Ramadan?
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Fasting in Ramadan from dawn until sunset could leave you tired, this is a great chance to get down on what food will give you a long-lasting fuel. A Muslim lifestyle changes in Ramadan and those who fast have a valuable opportunity to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which in turn contributes to reducing body weight, lowering blood pressure, and controlling blood sugar levels. Exercising two hours after breakfast can help with better digestion and reducing excess body fat.
If you can follow some of the nutrition and health recommendations during the month of Ramadan, then you will have many medical and health benefits associated with fasting. Now let's dive into the article.
It is best to break your fast with dates as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then he should break his fast with water, for water is purifying.“ Dates are rich in potassium, which helps with hydration and restores the balance of electrolytes. Dates are high in sugar and other nutrients, helping to rapidly increase the body's glucose levels after a long fasting day. Blood sugars pass to the liver when consuming dates, where they are quickly turned into energy for the body. The main source of energy is carbohydrates, the sugar we consume during suhoor is sufficient for only six hours, after that the supply of sugar will come mainly from the stored sugar in the liver. Hence, the importance of breaking the fast with dates (simple sugar).
Some people drink yogurt besides eating dates. Yogurt is rich in calcium, water, and probiotics; this combination is ideal for energy restoration. It is recommended to wait for around 10-15 minutes (go pray the Maghreb) before consuming your main meal (iftar). This allows the absorption of some of the nutrients by the body and reduces extreme hunger.
To begin iftar, start with a bowl of soup as it softens the stomach, warms it after a long day of fasting, compensates the fluids lost by the body, and prepares the digestive system for the rest of the meal. Add plenty of vegetables to give key vitamins and minerals. Increase your fiber intake by choosing whole grains. To ensure a good portion of healthy protein, add grilled or baked lean meat, skinless chicken and fish. Cut back on fried and processed foods, which are high in fat or sugar. Enjoy your meal by eating slowly to avoid overeating and digestive problems.
Because we only have a limited number of hours to eat during Ramadan, eating at least two snacks between iftar and suhoor is advisable. Here are examples of good snacks with the three macronutrients, whole grains, egg, peanut butter, yogurt, granola, avocado, fruits, dried fruits, smoothies, hummus (balila), etc.
Low-intensity exercise can be added an hour before Maghreb prayer. High-intensity exercise during the day is not a good idea since you can quickly get dehydrated, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. You can take easy short walks or a couple of stretches that can go a long way in maintaining your energy up during the fasting hours. High-intensity exercises like, HIIT and resistance training can take place 2-3 hours after iftar (after Taraweeh).
Drink lots of water (at least 10 glasses or 2-3 L) between Iftar and suhoor. Eating hydrating foods can also increase water intake. Try to add watermelon, and other high water content fruits and vegetables to your Suhoor meal or have it after Iftar. You may also increase the intake of water by drinking smoothies, herbal teas, soups, etc. Breaking the fast with water during iftar is common among Muslims, and it also helps to hydrate your body and prevents you from overeating.
Suhoor needs to be healthy and nutritious to provide sufficient energy that will last for the long hours of fasting. The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Eat Suhoor; Indeed, there is a blessing in Suhoor.” Choose the right foods to keep you going through the fast. Try to eat complex carbohydrates namely fruit and vegetables, beans, chickpeas, and lentils can provide a long-lasting source of energy throughout the day, due to their high fiber content. Include low-fat dairy products with your meal, such as low-fat labneh or yogurt, and aim to include healthy unsaturated fats such as avocado, unsalted almonds, salmon, olives, and olive oil. Protein is an essential macronutrient to be included in suhoor. This keeps your muscles strong and prevents your body from using the protein in your muscle as a source of energy during long fasting hours. Not to mention that protein gives you a feeling of satiety and helps reduce hunger. High protein sources include eggs, poultry, beef, and dairy products. During suhoor, avoid eating salty and spicy foods as they increase thirst throughout the day.
Ramadan offers an opportunity to "cleanse" our lifestyle from poor eating habits and junk food. This is the best time to give your body a break from junk food and enjoy the health and spiritual benefits of Ramadan. Enjoy your meals with your family and loved ones, this is the happiest month of the year, cook together, and be kind to your body.
Ramadan Kareem :)
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