Ramadan offers the chance to review your diet and exercise regime. Here, Swati Basu Das finds out how to recharge and keep fit while fasting.
If you are fasting you should be reading this, and if you’re not, then we have you in mind as well.
Is it safe and advisable to exercise while dry-fasting? What time is best for physical activities while fasting?
Most of us think fasting will quickly lower our body weight even without exercising. Some might think that physical training without food and water could dehydrate the body and make the muscles weary.
Well, according to experts; if you are fasting from dawn to dusk and still want to lose those extra kilos in a healthy way then Ramadan is the perfect time to achieve the right Body Mass Index (BMI) goal.
It’s the holy month of Ramadan, a period of intermittent fasting for 30 days. But does that mean only fasting and not hitting the gym and refraining from walking and jogging?
A theological answer might be sourced from Rumi’s statement “starve the body feed the soul”.
The intermittent fasting during Ramadan has a primal spiritual benefit but the holy month also reminds us that the body and mind are not separate entities.
There is no second thought on being theological but it is vital to seek some expert supervision while fasting, and keep your treadmill running.
In response to the question of exercising before or after an iftar meal, Fathiya Abdullah Al Rashdi, a clinical dietician at the Ministry of Health, says blood sugar fluctuations can harm the body if one exercises shortly after eating food.
Exercising on an empty stomach has been proven to increase the oxidative stress that claims to benefit the muscles.
Light yoga or an early morning walk every day followed by a healthy breakfast is the key to good health, and its benefits are noticeable.
Fathiya says: “It is always beneficial to exercise on an empty stomach like the one we do early morning. But during Ramadan, it is important to note that the body is without fluid for more than 12 hours. It is advisable to avoid exercises before the Maghreb prayer if you have diabetes or are suffering from other lifestyle diseases.”
Light exercises and walking just before iftar is beneficial only if the body permits. High-intensity exercises such as weight-training and running before iftar can lead to a loss of the water stored in our body, which can lead to severe dehydration and burning muscle tissues instead of fat.
Fathiya says: “Ramadan is a good time to lose weight. Regular workouts including this fasting month can help to reduce weight gradually without harming the core functioning.
“Exercising and fasting together maximises the impact of cellular factors and catalysts which force the body fat to breakdown for energy. But one needs to restore energy before the workout. One hour after iftar is the best time for aerobics or cardio. It is important to drink water and to keep the body hydrated while exercising.”
Depending on your level of fitness, age and medical history, you must schedule any exercise during Ramadan carefully while considering the following factors:s:
The holy month offers the best opportunity to correct eating disorders.
Breaking fast with dates is not only religious but dates are packed with medicinal properties. They not only replenish the body thereby controlling your metabolism but can also help in controlling the glycaemic index.
It is essential to monitor the intake of calories while fasting.
Fathiya advises: “As people fast the whole day, there is a tendency to eat anything and everything during iftar. Eating all food at one time increases the risk of gastroenteritis and bloating. Iftar should be light and healthy. Drinking a lot of water helps to hydrate the body as well as in digesting food.”
Iftar is the perfect time to consume healthy fruits and salads, soups, juices or laban (yoghurt drink). Avoid fried and sugary foods for iftar. A good combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat is essential after some rigorous exercise.
Get some fresh air
An outdoor activity such as walking or jogging by the beach or in a park an hour after the iftar meal is considered the most natural way to stay healthy. Hitting the gym and joining aerobic classes are good options for maximising any weight loss goals during Ramadan
Know your Limits
Never force your body to lose weight if your health is not perfect or you feel too tired, suggests Fathiya. Keeping the body hydrated while physical training keeps muscle cramps at bay. A diabetic patient should avoid exercises on an empty stomach or immediately after consuming a meal. Avoid physical activities the moment you feel tired or dizzy due to fasting.
Editor’s note: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please seek the advice of a medical expert if you have any questions regarding a health issue.