It is amazing how many people who I talk to start out thinking they will lose weight over Ramadan, but who then end up gaining 2-3 kilograms (or more!) by the end of the month.
However, if done correctly, it is actually possible to stay healthy while fasting in Ramadan, and in fact, it is possible to experience a feeling of alertness and of overall well-being when you do fasting the right way. Here are my tips:
Maintain a balanced diet
Keep a balanced liquid and food intake when you eat your meals at Sahur and Iftar to ensure that the kidneys maintain the body’s water and salts which will keep you feeling energised during your fast. These daily meals need to contain a healthy proportion of carbohydrates, protein and fats.
So with each meal check that it contains food from each major food group:
- fruit and vegetables
- whole grains, cereals and potatoes
- meat, fish or plant-based protein (tempe and tofu)
- healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, coconut milk)
Don’t make breaking fast a feast
People put on weight while fasting in Ramdan when the pre-dawn and pre-dusk meals become a feast and they consume more calories than will be burned throughout the day. Try your best to keep-up your self control and self discipline during your fasting meal times. Really, your food intake each day should not differ too much from your normal diet.
Eat wholesome meals
Iftar and Sahur should be moderate sized meals that are nutrient dense so you are getting as much nutrition as you can without too many calories.
For Sahur, eat food that will be filling and provide energy for the many hours ahead. I recommend oats- either made into hot porridge or as cold overnight soaked oats. Oats are slow digesting so you will get a constant release of energy for many hours. Add some fruit and nut milk or soy milk to your oats for a very well-rounded meal. You should also drink plenty of fluids- water, fresh fruit juice or best of all- coconut water, which is packed with energising and hydrating electrolytes.
For Iftar, break the fast with 2-3 dates (more than this will cause a huge blood sugar spike which won’t leave you feeling great!). Also drink plenty of water which will rehydrate your body and also help you to feel full so you don’t over-indulge for your evening meal (at least try not to eat too much on every night of Ramadan!).
Avoid rich and sugary foods and caffeine
It might be difficult to resist all the tasty foods eaten when celebrating the end of the daily fast. However, moderation is the key. If you want to stay healthy over Ramadan, avoid deep fried, high sugar and high fat cooked foods as much as you can. Instead try healthy alternatives that are lighter- baked and boiled dumplings, grilled meats, foods that haven’t been deep fried, for example. Don’t forget to also eat your greens and load up on vegetables that have been steamed or lightly pan fried.
- I’d love to hear what are your tips for staying healthy if you’re fasting in Ramadan, and what you find to be most challenging in term of staying healthy over the fasting month. Please share your thoughts and comments below.
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