A frequently asked question, "How can I work out and eat properly while fasting?"
Most people see Ramadan as a time when they will lose strength and muscle mass; some think they can only "maintain" themselves during this month, while many women actually gain weight!
Did you know that you can follow a specific exercise program during Ramadan, in addition to a proper diet plan, to achieve the best gains for your health? It is all about maximizing nutrient uptake, maintaining proper hydration, modifying key fat-burning and muscle-building hormones in your favor, and of course preparation.
While fasting, you become more dehydrated at rest; but it would be actually less than when aerobically exercising for over an hour. It is worth mentioning that the main metabolic fuel source for bodily function during fasting is mainly fat, which is a good thing.
Therefore, the goals during Ramadan are to:
- Maximize metabolism
- Preserve and enhance lean muscle mass as much as possible
- Maximize your workout depending on your goals (both cardio and weight training)
It is recommended that you limit cardio training to 2 days a week at the most to preserve as much lean muscle tissue as possible.
Best Training Times
The best time to do a weight-training workout is NOT while fasting. In fact, research indicates that dehydrating a muscle by only 3% can cause a 12% loss in strength. Thus, it can actually be more detrimental than beneficial!
The best time for weight training during Ramadan is:
After Taraweeh prayer at night: this will ensure that you already have enough food and of water in your system before going to the gym. This will also allow you to eat your post-exercise meal which is essential to muscle growth and contributes to body fat loss.
If this is too late then the next best time to weight train is:
About 1 hour after Iftar before Taraweeh prayer, you could do a short but intense 30 minute workout.
The best time to do cardio workout for maximum fat loss is:
- Before Suhur, 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity cardio work like a brisk walk on a treadmill.
- You can also exercise approximately 30-45 minutes after a "light" Iftar. Short but high intensity cardio training like sprinting. It takes less than 10 minutes and provides maximum benefit in terms of fat burning and lean muscle preservation! An example would be sprinting for 20-30 seconds at full speed and then walking for one minute. You can do 4-5 repetitions. Start slow and work your way up.
Happy Healthy Ramadan!
*Note: Please make sure to consult with your physician before starting any nutritional or training program.