Even the most die-hard fitness fans tend to slow down somewhat during Ramadan. Yet HEALTH speaks to Subodh Balakrishnan, Fitness Manager at Body & Soul Health Club in Ajman about how we can maintain a fitness routine while fasting without compromising our health and wellbeing.
According to Balakrishnan, there is no reason that fitness enthusiasts cannot continue to get stronger, leaner and gain muscle during Ramadan
using nutritional and workout tips. He adds, “In many ways, it’s actually the perfect opportunity to get leaner and to be in shape.”
Tips To Help You Maintain Fitness
Don’t use Ramadan as an excuse to not workout. “It is crucially important that you do some gym work over Ramadan as without it, and in the absence of a regular eating pattern, your metabolism will go on strike,” says Balakrishnan.
He advises that the best time to hit the gym during Ramadan is either early in the morning, after your meal of the day or after your first meal post-fasting.
Ensure that your breakfast contains easily digested protein and depending upon your goals, some complex carbs and essential fats.
Keep your workout duration tight, advises Balakrishnan. “Get in and out of the gym in less than one hour –preferably aim for 45 minutes of
hard work out,” he says.
Remember hydration, hydration, hydration, says Balakrishnan. “During the time that you are allowed to drink, this is extremely important,” he says. “I have seen a lot of Muslims pass out as they push themselves without drinking water. Your goal for a 200lbs man should be to try to drink 3 liters of water between dawn and sunrise.”
Do not panic. Balakrishnan points out that many people think that they are going to lose their hard earned muscles at the time of Ramadan. “This isn’t so, and with a bit of organization and thought there is no reason to take a step backward,” he says and in fact, 4 to 5 meals over a 24-hour period are very possible. “For example, an individual could eat a large pre-Ramadan fats meal at Suhour, then break the Ramadan
fats at Iftar, eat again at 10:00pm, and finally have a supper at 11:30pm,” he says.
Taking these supplements will help: Acetyl L Carnitine (3grams upon awakening), Amino acids, Casein Protein Powder (for supper), Whey protein powder, a multi vitamin/minerals/ magnesium (at night to aid sleep).
Common Mistakes During Ramadan
Lack of planning is the biggest mistake you can do during Ramadan, tell Balakrishnan. “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” he says; make a plan for your diet, training, job and sleep. More errors to avoid are below:
• Not training. You won’t lose much muscle and strength if you stop lifting weight during Ramadan. But you will tend to stick to your diet less. And this can cause more muscle/strength loss and fat gains than not lifting.
• Not eating healthy. Lots of people gain fat during Ramadan. The main reason for that is that a lot of the Ramadan foods are high in sugar and fats.
• Not eating enough. Food is energy. If you don’t eat enough you will lack energy at the gym and won’t recover well. You must focus on calorie dense foods to get the most out of your feeding window.
• Not sleeping enough. Short nights can cause sleep deprivation. This can kill your motivation to go to gym.
Ways to lose fat during Ramadan
Fasting improves fat loss, says Balakrishnan. “You can get away with more carbs than you would usually, without gaining fats,” he says and his tips are as follows:
Get stronger. Strength training prevents muscle loss. Keep lifting weights and work at getting stronger.
Eat healthy. Eat whole, unprocessed foods 90 percent of the time. Chicken breast, tuna cans, oats, rice, pasta, bananas and eggs.
Drink water. Avoid coffee and green tea as they are diuretics. Drink water to avoid dehydration. Avoid junk foods. Lots of people
gain weight just because they get tempted to stick to fast foods.
Avoid cardio. You can’t drink water during the fast so cardio is a bad idea. Stick with lifting weights until Ramadan ends.
TIME TO WORKOUT
Do 3 to 4 days workout per week. Take a rest day every alternative day. Follow this workout plan for a month
“All the exercises should be performed in the same order,” suggests Balakrishnen. “Don’t forget to have a good warm up and stretching and after workout stretching and cool down.”
Credit: Subodh Balakrishnan, Fitness Manager at Body & Soul Health Club in Ajman)