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Ramadan 2021: Tips To Stay Fit While Fasting During The Holy Month

The holy month of Ramadan has begun on 14 April, and people who observe the ritual fast from dawn to dusk for the entire month. The fasting ritual is called 'roza' in India. The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, is going to be celebrated on 14 May.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been concerns over the practice of fasting, where people are concerned whether fasting may increase their susceptibility to respiratory illness. Worry not, because doctors say that it is completely safe to fast during times of COVID-19 if you do it the right way.

Fasting for 12+ hours during the day and getting up in the middle of the night can be a challenge, so is the added challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is some expert advice to have the healthiest Ramadan possible while keeping yourself fit and healthy.

Here are some tips and tricks to have a safe, successful fast during the Ramadan season.

Tips To Stay Fit While Fasting This Ramadan

1. Hydration Is Key

Drinking water, especially when you are fasting, is vital. Not drinking enough water can result in a poor mood and increased tiredness, something you definitely do not want to happen when you are fasting [1]. Studies also show that staying hydrated lowers appetite - a plus point during this Holy month.

The question that arises here is: how do you stay hydrated when you cannot drink water between sunrise and sunset? Well, you need to make use of the time before sunrise and after sunset as an opportunity to rehydrate and meet the recommended water intake [2]. One more thing you can do is choosing foods with high water content instead (when you break the fast). As India is witnessing rampantly fluctuating weather between scorching heat and humid winds, help yourself by dressing in cool clothes (cotton) and avoid direct sunlight (to prevent dehydration) [3].

2. Know Your Health

Before you begin fasting, it is best to get a complete body checkup if you have any minor/major underlying health conditions [4]. However, having a chronic medical condition doesn't mean that you aren't able to fast - just that it is important to plan and make the necessary adjustments before you begin fasting. Experts say that most medications can and should be continued while fasting. The time you take them should be adjusted to fit the fasting schedule of the evening meal and morning meal [5].

Note: If fasting worsens the medical condition, even after modifying the medications' schedule, patients should avoid fasting.

3. Portion Control Is Important

The traditional foods served during the breaking of the fast are generally oily, sweet and heavy. Even though the taste is astronomical, you'll feel immediately exhausted, especially because you've been without food for 12+ hours [6]. You don't have to eat everything at one go; take your time, Ramadan is a month-long event, and you have all the time to enjoy the sweets and fried foods. After a whole day of not eating and feeling hungry, overeating is also common.

When breaking your fast in the evening, make sure your food is not from one group and have various protein, carbs, vegetables, and fruits.

4. Don't Skip The Morning Meal

Don't just wait for the iftar; make sure you get up in the morning for your Suhur (Suhur is the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting (sawm), before dawn). Under no circumstances should you skip the morning meal because the food choices you make will affect your energy throughout the day [7]. Don't just depend on simple carbohydrates, as they will not provide long-term energy.

5. Simple Exercises Go A Long Way

Add working out to your schedule; though you may think that you'll not have the energy to work out while fasting - the best time to train is around 8 am - after breaking your fast, your body will have the nutrients to support your system. [8].

Some more tips to keep yourself fit during Ramadan fasting:

  • Avoid coffee (dehydration)
  • Plan your meals ahead to avoid binging
  • Take a power nap (20-minutes) [9]
  • Avoid overeating during iftar [10]
  • Avoid excessive cardio and other strenuous exercises

On A Final Note...

Once the sun sets (or when the fasting ends for the day), focus on hydration, as it is the key to your metabolism to survive the stress of fasting. Eat a large pre-fast meal before sunrise, then break the fast when the sun goes down. Eat again at about 9:30 pm and, finally, have a pre-bedtime meal at 11:30 pm.

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