This year the holy month of Ramadan falls in the middle of summer, promising fasting hours will be the longest and hottest they’ve been in years.
To help people best prepare for and cope with the stresses fasting for so long can place on the body, Dubai-based chiropractor Dr Helle Kaerskov of Total Health has put together a simple guide for those who are fasting this year.
When fasting, energy is dependent on good fats taken in during the Suhour meal. However, Suhour only provides enough energy for a few hours before the body has to depend on stored fats, as fats provide twice as much energy as protein and carbohydrates. After fasting the whole day, Iftar provides body cells with the calories and nutrients needed to reinvigorate energy and vitality.
“Fasting for so long, and we’re talking up to 16 hours a day this Ramadan, is going to pose some serious health risks for people who don’t plan and prepare properly,” Dr Helle.
To put yourself in the best position at the beginning of a long day of fasting, Dr Helle says it is important to pay attention to the quality of the food you eat at the predawn meal
“Suhour is essential as it as it prevents hunger, tissue breakdown and offers better endurance capabilities to last throughout the day,” she says.
“Eat easily digestible and absorbable foods that are rich in fats, such as avocado, omelettes with full fat cream, full fat cheese, salmon, nuts and seeds. You can also make yourself a bullet coffee – a coffee with two shots of coconut oil in it,” she says. “These foods give you energy that can last for many hours unlike foods high in sugar, which provide energy for only a short time and then lead to a drop in the blood sugar levels. It’s also important to try to eat slowly.”
Dr Helle says people can also eat protein-rich foods together with their good-fats, such as milk, yogurt, Labneh and cheese, or fava beans and chickpeas that will make you feel full for a longer period.
“At the end of the day you need to replenish your energy stores and make up for the liquids and nutrients you missed throughout the day.”
“Break your fast with a few dates, a glass of water to rehydrate, and a bowl of soup. Liquids like water, juice and soup also help maintain the fluid and electrolyte balance in the body to replenish what was lost during the day.”
A few additional tips from Dr Helle:
- Drink a lot of fluids and water between Iftar and Suhour to prevent dehydration
- Limit your intake of fried foods and foods high in trans-fats
- Avoid foods high in salt such as pickles, salty crackers and nuts, and canned foods
- Try not to drink too much tea as it can increase fluids lost throughout the day
- Don’t overeat at the Suhour meal
- Light exercise between 3 pm and Maghreb time can help you burn body fat which allows you to lose or maintain your weight.