Ramadan

by Nicole Ramirez

Ramadan is a religious and spiritual time of year for Muslims. During this time, Muslims choose to fast from food and drink every day between sunrise and sunset to practice self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy. This time is not only for fasting but also for prayer, reflection and community. Ramadan lasts about twenty nine days and runs in accordance with the lunar calendar. Here at Tone & Sculpt, we want to provide the advice and guidance needed for our Muslim community, in order to support your health and wellbeing. We also want to keep our community informed. Learning about different cultures and the ways we can come together to support one another makes us stronger and better together.

Before dawn, Muslims take a pre fast meal called suhoor. After this meal, prayer occurs. Then at sunset, families will break the fast with a traditional meal called iftar. Ramadan is a special time but it comes with changes and challenges to daily life. Like with our approach to health and fitness, Ramadan also requires patience, strength, motivation, consistency and positivity. Naturally, the month may change your goals, however you can still work towards a healthy, balanced lifestyle with the tips below.

During fasting, your body will be using stored carbohydrates and fat to provide you energy throughout the day. This is why the way you eat during non fasting times is critical. Your body may experience slight dehydration as you are not replenishing fluids and our bodies do not store water. Some signs of dehydration may be headaches or tiredness. Studies show this is not harmful to your body as long as you are replenishing during non fasting hours. This is why the first tip would be once fasting is broken, hydrate! Begin with consuming 1-2 glasses of water. During non fasting hours, consume plenty of fluids and balanced meals.

Typically the fast is broken with dates or dried fruit. These provide natural, instant energy. This would be a good time to get a small workout in after hydrating and eating your quick energy source (although some choose to workout just before the fast breaks or even at suhoor - do what works for you). During this time, you may not be able to exercise at the same intensity as before and that is okay. Take this time to listen to your body and be sure to stay hydrated during this time. After a workout continue to fuel yourself with a balanced meal incorporating vegetables and protein rich foods. You have a shorter time to eat and drink each day so you want to take the time to provide your body with essential nutrients and fluids. This is all individual but an overall recommendation would be to workout after fueling and hydrating yourself. For suhoor, choose foods high in fibre, protein and starch to provide you energy for the day and keep you fuller for longer. An example could be choosing oats, muesli, yogurt with granola or an omelette.

Here is an example of a meal option from the Tone & Sculpt app that would be ideal for suhoor:

Peanut Butter Strawberry Oatmeal (to serve one)
Ingredients:
dry oats (64g)
strawberries (64g)
Milk (100ml)
1 tbsp peanut butter
½ tbsp chia seeds

Method:
Add the oats and chia seeds to a pan and pour over the milk.
Heat for roughly 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently until the milk is fully absorbed.
Once cooked, transfer to a breakfast bowl and top with the strawberries and peanut butter.

This meal contains complex carbohydrates providing a great energy source. It also contains peanut butter and chia seeds which provides healthy fats and protein keeping you satisfied. In addition, the strawberries add extra fibre leaving you feeling full for hours instead of hungry in a short amount of time. 

Before the end of suhoor, try to get in one more snack such as nuts or a protein rice cake from the Tone & Sculpt app. Do not forget to hydrate before the day starts!

Iftar

Break the fast with fluids and dates! Try the snack from Tone and Sculpt of dates topped with peanut butter, the perfect combination for a pre workout snack.

For a meal a great choice would be the lentil soup with sautéed spinach. Soup provides extra fluid to help hydrate you and lentils have carbohydrates, protein and fibre! Perfect to provide yourself with the right amount of energy after a long day.

Finish the day off with some peanut butter froyo. A perfect high protein snack to end the day!

Use some of these tips to have a healthy Ramadan! Remember first and foremost, this is a time for family, faith and reflection. It is okay if your eating habits are not as usual or you are not able to exercise in the same way. Overall, incorporating each food group and fluids is key! Each food group will nourish you in a different way. Remember, iftar and suhoor are the times to provide your body with nutrients! You may feel hungry after a fast and that is normal. Remember to plan out your meals and listen to hunger cues to avoid too many processed or fried foods at iftar and suhoor. Incorporating mindfulness during this time will be very helpful in staying in tune with what your body needs.

Enjoy this time with family and have a blessed Ramadan! If you have any questions or tips that you think would benefit our community at this time, please feel free to share below!  

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