1. Your aim: To feel more satiated throughout the day
Increase your fibre intake
Slow-moving traffic is a good thing – but only in your gut. Not only are high-fibre foods digested at a snail’s pace; their nutrients also take a longer time to be released into the body. Which means that they provide you with a more steady supply of energy source, keeping you feeling satiated for longer during the day.
Include these in your meal: Choose from fruits, vegetables, whole grains (go for wholemeal bread), oats and unpolished rice. Seeds, nuts and legumes are also great. Don’t forget to drink up while you’re at it – fibre absorbs a lot of water from the body.
2. Your aim: To ward off hunger pangs
Don’t forget your protein
Power your engine with protein. Your body uses amino acids from protein to create energy – and also to repair itself. Protein-rich food items also slow down the stomach – which means that you can ward off those hunger pangs.
Include these in your meal: For a good dose of protein – with more manageable amounts of fats – pick lean red meats, poulty (without the skin) and low fat dairy products. Soy products, beans and lentils are also great options.
3. Your aim: To remain energetic
Consume fats – in moderation
The good news: Fats keep you feeling full. They are also an excellent source of energy for someone who will have to fast for the rest of the day – mainly because fats are denser than carbs and protein. Still, eat in moderation – because too much of this good thing will have you looking like a greasy Ramli burger in no time. And however tempting they are, skip the “bad” fats (saturated fat and trans fat) – and go for “good” fats (unsaturated fats) instead.
Include these in your meal: Use a healthier cooking oil when you take to the kitchen – canola, soybean, corn, sunflower and olive are ideal. And for an extra boost of healthy fats, add these winners to your diet – oily fish (such as salmon, sardine, and mackerel), most nuts (pick almonds, cashew nuts and hazelnuts) as well as avocados.
4. Your aim: To stay adequately hydrated
Avoid stuff that are excessively salty or sweet
Two glasses of plain water at your pre-dawn meal is a must if you want to stay hydrated – no doubt about that. But don’t water down your efforts by wolfing down salt- or sugar-laden gravies and sauces – they leech your body of water. Sweet drinks and preserved- or processed foods also make you thirsty. And if you can, skip your java fix: Caffeine purges water from your system.
Include these in your meal: Flavour your food the natural way – use tamarind and other herbs and spices. And when it comes to meeting your hydration needs, there’s nothing better than plain water – though low-fat milk, soups and jelly are also useful. Consume these liquids in small quantities so that you don’t feel bloated. Munch on juicy fruits and vegetables for an extra dose of variety.
5. Your aim: To avoid sudden dips in energy levels
Manage your intake of refined sugars
There’s another good reason to do away with too many flavoured drinks and sugary treats. They can send your blood sugar level on a roller coaster ride – usually ending with a crash. Having to deal with sudden spikes and dips in your energy level is no fun when you’re trying to remain productive while fasting.
Include these in your meal: You can still satisfy your sweet tooth – by diluting your favourite fruit juices with water.
6. Your aim: To avoid overeating
Focus on quality – not quantity
There’s no harm with eating and drinking more – since you will have no access to food for the next 13 hours. But it will be even better if you focus on the quality of your meal – rather than the quantity of food you can stomach. Plan your 4am meal in advance: Include fibre, carbs (simple and complex), protein and fat (unsaturated) – these will fuel your body throughout the day. And don’t forget to portion out your food the night before. Not only will this make your meal more convenient, it’ll also reduce the temptation to polish off a whole week’s supply of food. Start your meal with one to two glasses of water – and some fruits to warm-up your digestive system.
Include these in your meal: How about this for a convenient and nourishing meal: A bowl of wheat-based cereal with low fat milk – topped with a handful of unsalted nuts and a sliced banana? Or put together a wholegrain sandwich (egg or tuna make fantastic fillings) packed with lettuce. Pair the sandwich with a crunchy apple. A simple brown rice meal with two dishes – one meat and one vegetable – also makes for a great start to the morning.
7. Your aim: To prevent indigestion and heartburn
Eat the Sahur meal only at the break of dawn
However tempting it may be, Moiz doesn’t recommend eating a late-night meal – and skipping the Sahur meal the following morning. A heavy meal before you hit the sheets can only lead to a night of indigestion, heartburn and interrupted sleep. Food in excess of what your body requires will also be rapidly converted to fats. The extra sleep is really not worth all the trouble – and potential weight gain. In contrast, the Sahur meal has been timed perfectly to give your body all it needs to take on the fast.