Ramadan is an important part of the Islamic calendar, during which many Muslims fast for daylight hours for spiritual and religious reasons. Traditionally, communities and families join together to ‘break the fast’ during Ramadan. This is a wonderful celebration and opportunity to spend time with loved ones and share experiences. I love walking past restaurants in Cardiff during Ramadan and seeing communities and families celebrating and enjoying food.
Often I meet people who feel that Ramadan is an ideal opportunity for weight loss or weight management, but interestingly it is a period where many people can find themselves gaining weight for a variety of reasons. The reduced hunger and fullness queues associated with day time fasting and increased likelihood of choosing high calorie foods when breaking the fast. Others may struggle to meet their energy demands due to missed meals during the working day. There is no such thing as a one size fits all!
For those exercising or engaging in sport during Ramadan, it can be a difficult and challenging time. Often sports nutrition advice will focus on promoting performance and training adaptations, but when I am discussing sports nutrition for those fasting, the priority shifts to maintaining health and offering recovery and adaptations where possible.
- Enjoy breaking your fast with friends and family. Celebrate and enjoy the culture of Ramadan and food.
- Try and eat mindfully where possible. It can be very easy to fill up on high calorie, low nutrient foods at the start of a meal, which can limit your exposure to high quality, nutrient rich foods during your limited window.
- If possible, try and time exercise after sunset or close to Iftar so you can offer your body some growth and repair. Avoid high intensity sessions early in the day.
- Base meals on slow release carbohydrate, protein and plenty of vegetable. Traditional meals and menus are actually incredibly nutritious.
- Aim to take on board some slow release casein based protein before sleep (FYI – a glass of MILK is the best!) to promote muscle recovery during sleep
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate overnight
- A complex carbohydrate and protein rich breakfast may help support your nutritional needs during the day e.g. overnight oats with berries, peanut butter and natural yoghurt, Weetabix with sesame seeds and banana and peanut butter on toast.
Remember to exercise safely and with caution during this period, particularly during hot weather. Stay Agile!
Written by Ashling Pigott, Dietitian.
Aisling Pigott (Ash) is a Registered Dietitian. Dietitians are the only health professionals trained and regulated to give up to date nutrition advice. Ash has experience in a variety of healthcare, private and academic settings. As an evidenced based practitioner, she is passionate about de-bunking nutrition myths and diet culture whilst promoting health and well-being.