| Ramadan – How to Eat and Train |

With a day-job that requires me to manage distributors across the world, including the Middle East, I know how difficult it can be to maintain a routine throughout the holy month of Ramadan. This got me wondering, if people’s day to day work routine dramatically changes during Ramadan, what about those who train regularly and stick to a diet that helps them achieve their body composition goals?

Now, apologies if this isn’t 100% on the money, but as I understand it, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is a time of fasting for the millions of Muslims across the world. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam. It is a time of self-examination, and increased religious devotion. It is common to have one meal known as the suhoor just before sunrise and an evening meal (iftar) after sunset during Ramadan.

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With a fairly limited knowledge of the Holy Month, I was fortunate to be in touch with Farooq Aslam, Director of Vitamyn, whom I met at BodyPower back in May. Plenty more information on Vitamyn and Biodose to come in the following weeks – you guys are going to love the concept!

Farooq kindly answered the questions I had about training and eating while fasting for Ramadan, so I hope you find this as insightful, useful and interesting as I did.

How do you adapt your training to suit your fast? Do you move it to different times of the day or change your workout altogether?

Training is affected massively. Personally the optimal time to do weights is some time after you have broken fast which for me is around midnight at the moment. If I get a chance, I will Sneak in a HIIT session in the middle of the day on my break at work. My workouts are designed to keep me ticking over throughout the month, so I usually lift about 65% of a normal load and ensure everything is done in quick succession rather than a prolonged workout.

iftar-time-funny

How do you find fasting and a lack of hydration affects your workout?

Personally I pay acute attention to the amount of liquids I consume after opening my fast, so by the time it comes to training I’m readily hydrated and can take on board more fluids if  I wish to. The earlier HIIT sessions in the day are quite tough though as I have already been fasting for 10 or more hours, so here you can really feel the lack of fluids. I try and make sure these sessions are short, sharp and highly intense. You will crave for fluids after, but as long as you’ve had plenty the night before, the urge disappears after 30 minutes or so.

When you break your fast in the evening, do you still try and hit your macro / calorie targets for a regular day?

No, because really you have one good meal, maybe two at the most in you during Ramadan, especially in the summer months when the window to eat is 5-6 hours at the most. This meal I try an incorporate a balanced approach by eating proteins (grilled meats), carbs (sweet potato, wholemeal rice) and plenty of salads and vegetables. Being in a fasted state for a prolong period of time does limit the capacity of your stomach also, limiting the amount you think you’ll be able to eat.

Do you change the way you eat / train in the run up to Ramadan to try and acclimatise your body?

I personally don’t change in the approach, but rather you do mentally have to focus yourself for the demands. Discipline is paramount, there is no sneaking and cheating as that defeats the object of the spiritual side of Ramadan.

Fluids, fluids, fluids!

What are the 3 take-home points would you give to people to help them with their diet and training during Ramadan?

  • Fluids, fluids, fluids! I cannot stress enough! Theoretically you could go up to three weeks without food, but you’d only survive three days with out fluids. That fact right there should tell anyone where the focus should be when it comes to nutrition!
  • Avoid fried foods like the plague, they just make you sluggish and lethargic!
  • Most importantly remember that Ramadan is a time for you to really concentrate on your spiritual fulfillment, and so your eating and training should come secondary to that.

Huge thanks to Farooq for taking the time to help me with this piece, it’s been one big hit of knowledge for me, and I hope it has been for you too. Only one thing from me left to say, Ramadan Mubarak!

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