Fasting for Ramadan

I think just about every trainer would agree that skipping all your meals then working out is a bad idea. Couple that with avoiding water and you’re verging on a disaster, but that’s exactly what I did when I decided to continue my workout routine while I fasted during the month of Ramadan. Every year over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world fast during this month, which spanned from June 28th to July 27th.  During Ramadan, Muslims, like myself, fast everyday from sunrise to sunset without any food or water.   With sunrise at around 4:30am and sunset at about 8:30pm, it made for a very long day of fasting!

Typically, we would wake up around 4am, eat a full breakfast and then fast until sunset.  After sunset, we would have dinner and then snack until we go to bed sometime around 10 or 11pm.  In prior years, I would typically gain 10-15 pounds during this month.  A lot of that was due to the type of meals I would eat.  I never paid attention to portion sizes or the type of food I consumed because I felt that after fasting an entire day with no food or water, I had the license to eat whatever I wanted.  Fortunately this year, I had already been training with Sonja and had a regular nutrition plan in place prior to Ramadan.

Right before Ramadan began, I met with Sonja; she designed a plan that would work best given the circumstances of my fasting.  We were already used to training 3 times a week, so all we had to do was adjust the types of exercises I did and the workout intensity level since I couldn’t have any water during or after my workouts.  She also put together a great nutrition plan for my two meals (breakfast & dinner) that concentrated more on proteins and vegetables and less on carbohydrates, which is something I wasn’t really used to during Ramadan.  In prior years, my meals included more carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, and potatoes.  Instead, I focused more on proteins such fava beans, lentils, and eggs for breakfast, and chicken & fish for dinner.  She also recommended having a protein shake late at night before bed to hold me over until breakfast. Another great thing about this plan was that she introduced me to coconut water, which was never part of my regular diet before.  I quickly got in the habit of having coconut water with my early breakfast, which helped keep me hydrated throughout the day.

 During the 30 days of fasting, both the exercise and nutrition plan worked well for me.  In the past, I would feel bloated and dehydrated during the day.  But this year, I felt great all day long.  I rarely felt any hunger or thirst during my fast and my tailored workouts worked perfectly for me.  Thankfully, I was able to maintain that throughout the month.   For the first time this year I was able to lose weight during Ramadan!  I lost 10 pounds and a few inches off my waist, thighs, and arms.  It’s been a challenging month but I’m happy to say I’ve come out stronger, thinner and happier because of it.