With Ramadan once again upon us, now is the time to not only focus on self reflection, but to look after our health. If you’re planning on fasting this Ramadan, it is important to ensure your diet is nutrient-rich and provides energy necessary for daily activities. Fasting can result in low blood sugar levels, which can result in overeating when breaking your fast, if you’re not careful. It’s not uncommon to gain weight during this Holy Month, from eating too much and not having the energy to exercise enough. If you want to keep the pounds off this Ramadan, use these healthy nutrition tips. Lauren Jacobsen, Kcal Nutrition Director, explains how…
1. Have a Healthy & Filling Suhour
Although many people would rather sleep than wake to eat, it is important to make sure you have a nutrient-rich and filling suhour meal. Eating suhour will help make sure you have enough reserved energy to use during the day, till iftar. Your suhour meal should contain complex carbs including whole grains like oatmeal or dense whole grain bread, but also a protein source like eggs or yoghurt. These foods tend to be slower digesting, which means they can help keep energy levels maintained for longer. When energy levels are kept high, you are less likely to have a blood sugar crash, which can result in overeating come iftar.
2. Avoid Simple Sugars
Limit the amount of food you eat that contains refined sugar and flour. These foods can raise blood sugar levels quickly, which will give you a temporary energy boost, but this will be quickly followed by an energy crash. Avoid processed foods, pastries, white bread, pasta, cakes and white rice. If you must indulge, limit your consumption. Eat from a variety of complex carbs, which are slower digesting due to their fibre content. Replace white rice with brown rice, bulgur or quinoa, remove bread or choose whole grain, choose whole wheat pasta or vegetable noodles and limit your dessert all together. Sugar crashes from bad food choices can manifest into fatigue
and food cravings, which is exactly what you want to avoid during your fasting hours.
3. Eat Protein
Protein delays hunger and provides energy, not to mention helps maintain lean muscle. It takes more time to break down in the body than carbs and provides a longer-lasting energy source. Eat protein with both suhour and iftar. Slower digesting sources of protein include beef, whole eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt. It is also key to maintaining a lean body composition, the more lean mass you maintain the higher your metabolism, and less likely you’ll be to gain weight during Ramadan.
4. Avoid Fried Fatty Foods
Fried food is not just calorie dense, those calories tend to be empty and unfulfilling. If possible, choose items that can be baked instead of fried – like samosas. Additionally, opt for including healthy fats in your Ramadan meals. Healthy fats does not only provide longer lasting energy, including them in your diet can also slow digestion of other foods and offer an assortment of health benefits. Fatty foods to include in your diet are avocado, olives, nuts, salmon and whole eggs.
5. Break Your Fast With A Light Meal
Breaking fast over heavy meals, like buffets, will only make you feel lethargic post-binge. It can also have a negative effect on your digestive system. Break your fast over a light meal like soup and dates. Then, if possible, wait some time before your main course. Include at least half a plate of vegetables and salad, and then split the remaining plate between carbs and protein. Choose baked or broiled chicken, fish or meat, while carbs should be complex, including brown rice, quinoa, bulgur or sweet potatoes. A healthy iftar meal will make you feel more energetic, and more likely to continue with exercise or something active post meal.
6. Limit Desserts And Sweets
It can be hard to cut these out, especially after a long day of fasting, but it is important to limit your consumption of the sweet treats. Many traditional desserts are prepared with sugar syrups and cheese, and are fried. Eating dessert occasionally, just like the rest of the months of the year, shouldn’t be any different. The majority of desserts are high in sugar, which will raise your blood sugar levels quickly. This spike in energy can lead to an immediate sugar crash that can manifest into fatigue. But that’s not all. Desserts are not light on the calories. If possible, limit the amount of dessert you have during Ramadan. Try to have a dessert just once a week – it shouldn’t be a month of desserts! The rest of the time, if you must have something sweet, have fresh fruit. That is both hydrating and lower in calories.
7. Make Sure You Are Drinking Enough Water
After breaking your fast, you should keep drinking water at regular intervals to compensate for the hydration you didn’t get while fasting. Multiply your weight in kg by 35 to know how much water you should drink. The number you get is the amount in millilitres you should drink. For example, if your weight is 60kg, multiply 60 x 35 = 2100. So you’ll need 2100ml or 2.1l, which translates into roughly eight glasses of water. You can help hydrate yourself faster by having foods that are rich in water, like cucumbers, leafy greens, watermelon and tomatoes. These foods have more than 90 percent water content and can be a good way to increase your fluid intake. Also, when breaking your fast, sip on coconut water, which is rich in electrolytes that can help with hydration.
8. Limit Caffeine Consumption
Fasting causes dehydration, so during the month of Ramadan it is good to consider limiting or even taking a break from drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea. Caffeine is a natural diuretic that will increase water loss in the body. Cut back to just one cup of coffee or tea per day if you need it.
About Lauren Jacobsen... With over 20 years’ experience working in the supplement and nutrition industry, Canadian Lauren empowers women (and men) to live their best life. “I’m here to share with you real and honest tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to help transform not just your body, but also to change your life,” she says. For more fitness tips from Lauren, follow her on social media @sexyfitlauren