Throughout the month of Ramadhan, Muslims all over the world observe a fast from dawn to sunset during which they abstain from food and fluid intake. During this period, concerns arise about working out or exercising as you can’t rehydrate yourself or replenish lost energy because of the embargo on food and water. It’s also likely to feel more fatigued during this period and not just because of fasting, but also due to the modified sleeping pattern (as a result of waking up for pre-dawn meals). With some tweaks to your regular workout habits and diet, it is possible to train without causing duress to your health.
Lower Your Training Intensity
Dr. Rano Izhar, CEO-Asia of the International Fitness Professional Association (IFPA) and former advisor to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia, warns against high-intensity exercises during the fasting month. He suggests those who are fasting to take note of certain health factors, especially those with a history of, or who possess symptoms that suggest cardiopulmonary disease.
"If you suffer from difficulty breathing while standing or suddenly at night, dizziness or fainting, constant shortness of breath even with mild exertion, chest pains, pain in the leg while walking, swollen ankles or rapid heart flutters, get a doctor to check you before proceeding,"Dr.Rano advises. "If deemed fit to exercise, tweak the intensity of training to 60 to 65 per cent of your usual levels while fasting."
Drink Plenty Of Fluids
"Water plays an essential part as it regulates body temperature, transport nutrients, oxygen and waste to plasma, and is necessary to energy production. Dehydration during exercise activity especially when fasting is very common, and detrimental to health and athletic performance." says Dr. Rano.
To get around the fasting hours, he recommends hydrating as much as possible. "Drink about 300 to 400 ml of fluid before sleep, and another 300 to 400 ml during your pre-dawn meal." You may want to consider cutting down on coffee, soda or tea, as caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates fluid loss.
Eat The Right Balance
Complex carbohydrates are the way to go as these provide slow-release of energy to the body throughout the day and are less likely to be converted to fat, according to Dr. Rano. You can get your fix of complex carbs from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains. These include dates, figs, grapes, bread and rice.
Dr. Rano suggests the following serving suggestions for those who are continuing to train regularly during the fasting period:
Carbohydrate: Bread /cereal/rice/pasta group/ rye/corn beans/potatoes – 6-11 servings
Protein: Meat / poultry / dry beans / eggs / and nuts group – 2-3 servings
Milk / yogurt / cheese group: 2-3 servings
Vegetable group: 3-5 servings
Your ideal combination of nutrients per meal is broken down as follows:
(60 per cent) Carbohydrates- complex carbohydrates are much preferred as they are long lasting sources of energy.
(30 per cent) Protein – 1 gm per 1 kg body weight. Example, for a 50 kg bodyweight, a 50gm of protein will suffice.
The balance of 10% will come from fat, preferably monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad ones) levels, while raising HDL cholesterol levels. These can be obtained from nuts like walnuts, almond and pistachios as well as seafood like salmon and anything rich with Omega-3 fatty acids.