Taskeen’s Ramadan 2020 Health and Fitness Guide
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, when Muslims do not eat between the rising and setting of the sun. During Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the fact that it was in this month that God first revealed the words of the Quran to Mohammed. Observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
It offers to any true seeker a self-reflective course that has the power to bring a revolution of the heart and help restore justice, peace and harmony in the world. Ramadan is the embodiment of reflection, revelation, revolution, and restoration.
When Does Ramadhan Commence in 2020?
It commences on the 23rd April 2020 (Thursday)- 23rd May 2020 (Saturday), ending date may vary in conjunction with sighting of the new moon.
How does Fasting affect the body?
During fasting hours when no food or drink is consumed, the body uses its stores of carbohydrate (stored in the liver and muscles) and fat to provide energy once all the calories from the foods consumed during the night have been used up.
The body cannot store water and so the kidneys conserve as much water as possible by reducing the amount lost in urine. However, the body cannot avoid losing some water when you go to the toilet, through your skin and when you breathe and when you sweat if it is warm.
Depending on the weather and the length of the fast, most people who fast during Ramadan will experience mild dehydration, which may cause headaches, tiredness and difficulty concentrating.
Once the fast is broken, the body can rehydrate and gain energy from the foods and drinks consumed. Having not eaten for a long period, you may find it helpful to eat slowly when breaking the fast and to start with plenty of fluids and low-fat, fluid-rich foods.
The changes to eating habits and lack of fluids during the day may cause constipation for some people. When you can eat and drink, consuming plenty of high fibre foods, such as wholegrains, high fibre cereals, bran, fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils, dried fruit and nuts alongside plenty of fluids may help to ease constipation as well as doing some light physical activity, such as going for a walk after iftar.
Nutritional tips: What should one eat during the month of Ramadhan?
Iftar – when first breaking the fast go for plenty of fluids, low fat, fluid-rich foods and foods containing some natural sugars for energy (avoid consuming a lot of foods or drinks with added sugars).
Below are some examples:
• Drinks – water, milk, fruit juices or smoothies – water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars. Drinks based on milk and fruit provide some natural sugars and nutrients – these are also good to break the fast but avoid drinking a lot of drinks with added sugars after breaking the fast as these can provide too much sugars and calories.
• Dates – traditionally eaten to break the fast since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, dates are a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, provide minerals like potassium, copper and manganese and are a source of fibre. You could also try other dried fruits such as apricots, figs, raisins or prunes, which also provide fibre and nutrients.
• Fruit – a traditional way to break the fast in South Asian cultures, fruit provides natural sugars for energy, fluid and some vitamins and minerals.
• Soup – traditional in many Arab countries, is a light way to break the fast and provides fluid. Traditional soups are based on a meat broth and often contain pulses, like lentils and beans, and starchy foods like pasta or grains, providing nutrients and energy.
After breaking the fast – meals vary between different cultures and traditions but try to make sure the foods you eat provide a balance of starchy foods, including wholegrains where you can, fruit and vegetables, dairy foods and protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs and beans.
For example you could have a range of curries including fish, meat, vegetables and pulses, served with rice, chapattis and yogurt, and this would include all of the key food groups within the Eatwell Guide.
After a long fast it’s natural to want to treat yourself but try to keep the amount of fatty and sugary foods and sugary drinks you have to a small amount. Remember that you only have a relatively short time each day to eat and drink to provide your body with all the essential nutrients and fluids it needs to be healthy, so the quality of your diet is especially important during Ramadan.
If you can, once you have had a chance to digest your food, you could try doing some light exercise such as going for a walk. If you attend Taraweeh prayers (special night-time prayers for Ramadan) in the evening, perhaps you could walk all or part of the way there.
Suhoor (begin of fast before sunrise) – drink plenty of fluids, choose fluid-rich foods to make sure you are well hydrated for the day ahead and go for starchy foods for energy, choosing high fibre or wholegrain varieties where possible as these can help keep you feeling fuller and can aid digestion, helping to prevent constipation.
Below are some examples:
• Oats – these are wholegrains and you could choose porridge, which will also provide fluids as it’s made with milk. You could experiment with fresh or dried fruit, nuts or seeds as toppings.
• High fibre breakfast cereals – these provide plenty of fibre and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, providing extra nutrients. Because they are consumed with milk, you also get fluid and nutrients like calcium, iodine and b vitamins from the milk.
• Starchy foods like rice, or couscous – you could try rice pudding with fruit or experiment with couscous or other grains with dairy or fruit. If you go for savoury dishes at suhoor then it’s a good idea make sure these are not too salty or they may make you very thirsty during the fast.
• Yogurt – this can be a good food to include at suhoor as it provides nutrients like protein, calcium, iodine and b vitamins and also contains fluid. You could combine it with cereal and fruit as in the examples above.
• Breads – go for wholegrain options as these provide more fibre, for example wholemeal toast or chapattis. Avoid combining bread with salty foods like hard cheese, or preserved meats. You could try nut butters (without added salt), soft cheese, or banana. As bread is fairly dry, make sure you drink plenty of water or other fluids alongside or you could have fluid-rich foods such as a lentil soup, which is a traditional food at suhoor in some countries.
What should we avoid during Ramadan?
It is generally advisable to avoid, or at least limit, some types of foods during Ramadan, such as:
• Fried and fatty foods, such as fried potato and samosa. …
• Foods that contain high amounts of salt, such as pickles. …
• Foods that contain large amounts of sugar. …
• Foods that contain chocolate or any other source of caffeine.
Types of exercises during Ramadhan:
If you are planning to quit your exercise routine during Ramadan, think again. Experts are of the opinion that exercise and fasting can go together. We bring you some tips on how to maintain your workout plans while you fast during the holy month.
When we exercise during fasting, it essentially forces our body to shed fat, as our body’s fat burning processes are controlled by sympathetic nervous system, which in turn is activated by exercise and lack of food.
Exercising an hour before breaking the fast gives you the flexibility of eating within short span. It rejuvenates the body immediately. Moderate workout of 30-60 minutes is advised depending on your fitness levels.
What kind of exercise should be done?
High intensity exercises that throw the pulse rate to above 150 per minute should be avoided, particularly if you have yet to break the fast. Doing slow or moderate exercises are advised.
Experts suggest brisk walk, slow jogging, cycling, cross training and light machine exercises at gym for the Ramadan. DBF will provide a Ramadhan workout for the duration of Ramadhan.
DO’S AND DON’T’S
DO: Moderate exercises for about 30 minutes to an hour.
DO: Drink plenty of water between Iftar and Suhur. Remember to stay hydrated.
DO: What is comfortable for your body, and go at the intensity that is right for you. Listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you.
DO NOT: Push yourself to the limit or overexert yourself. Just work at your own pace.
DO NOT: Eat unhealthy food or junk food. Avoid fried and fatty food and stay healthy. Think of food as fuel for your workouts, only consume high-quality stuff.