Ramadan is the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. It comprises of praying, charity and fasting. It’s also the time of year that your training is most likely to suffer if you’re fasting. But it doesn’t have to be.
Benefits of Fasting
Exercise during Ramadan has some incredible health benefits that you can take advantage of; such as:
· Restoring insulin sensitivity and nutrient partitioning
· Producing a calorie deficit which is ideal for those looking to reduce their body fat percentage
· An increase in growth hormones to increase muscle mass and build strength
· Lowering blood pressure, oxidative stress and even the risk of developing some cancers
So while there are potential gains to be made, you still can’t expect to carry on as usual whilst fasting for Ramadan. There are a number of things you need to adjust in order to continue training while fasting:
1. Time of Workout
The biggest adaptation you’ll need to make is to your workout times. There are three times of day when a workout would be most effective whilst fasting:
I. Before Suhoor – Training before your morning meal is when a lot of people normally train, however during Ramadan this will probably mean training at 3am. This will be the most effective time to fit in a work out. You can replenish your protein and nutrient levels afterwards as well as being able to drink fluids during the workout itself.
II. 1 hour before breaking your fast – Generally good for a low intensity workout rather than HIIT or weight training. Your carbohydrate levels will be very low at this time so you won’t have as much energy as you normally would, however it’s a more sociable hour. Major downside is you can’t drink water during your workout so make sure you get plenty of fluids in the moment you break your fast.
III. After Taraweeh prayers – The added benefit of training after Taraweeh prayers is there will have been plenty of time for your evening meals to digest. You can also drink water or workout drinks whilst training. The downside being the anti-social side of working out at this time.
There is no perfect time to exercise during Ramadan, it’s all about what works for you. We understand that the times we’ve recommended aren’t always the best time to get to the gym. We recommend speaking to our Fitness Instructors about getting a workout plan that you can use at home during these times, they will gladly support you in making one.
During Ramadan your sleeping schedule is likely to be disrupted. Not getting enough sleep not only lowers your energy levels and reduces your concentration. It is during sleep that growth hormones are released that repair the skin and muscle tissue. Knowing this, you should make a conscious effort to get in as much sleep as possible. If your working hours permit then take a nap after work and before Iftar to try and get in as close to the ideal 8 hours a day as possible.
Of course your diet and eating schedule are going to be different during Ramadan if you’re fasting. Those wanting to exercise after Iftar should break their fast with a small meal, ideally consisting of natural sugars like dates or fruit and carbohydrates, and then allow some time to digest before exercising. The workout should be followed with a bigger meal consisting of protein-rich foods as well as lots of water to replenish lost fluids.
You only have a short amount of time to get your entire days’ worth of calories in so choose calorie dense foods but try and avoid dietary allergens such as pasta and milk. If you tend to over-eat when you break your fast, then start with your lean proteins and fibrous vegetables in order to curb your appetite before you start on your carbs.
Be sure to drink as much water as you can, even when you don’t feel thirsty. Your body may not register it now, but you will need as much water as you can to get you through a long hot summer day without it, especially if you plan to work out.
Training does not have to stop during Ramadan, but a few adaptations will need to be made to achieve most of the time training during this month.