You might think it’s necessary to forfeit your workout plans during Ramadan, but you don’t have to. You can still continue to keep active, and reap the benefits of working out. We asked fitness model and trainer, Nana Al-Haleq, to guide us through what it takes to keep moving and fit during this fasting month. Here’s what she says:
1. The best time to workout during Ramadan
The best time to train is definitely at any time after breaking fast as your system has already been nourished with all the nutrients to perform better. “By doing so, it allows you to consume the all-important post workout meal or shake. It’s essential for muscle growth which leads to fat loss,” says Nana. However, not everyone has the luxury to spare an hour at any time past breaking fast, especially parents. However, Nana says that it is not an excuse to be inactive. “I always tell my clients to have their workout done at anytime available to them. Be it during noon for stay-at-home mums, or 45 mins to 1 hour before Iftar for corporate individuals.” Of course, a slight muscle loss will occur, says Nana, but that could be minimized with good nutrition and meal plan.
2. Suitable workouts for Ramadan
All workouts are suitable during Ramadan as individual preferences differ. “Asking someone to perform activities they’re less fond of will lead to stress, and that will increase cortisol levels which leads to fat storage,” says Nana. However, Nana says that strength training is a better choice, especially if you want to work out during the day or before Iftar with lower loads and longer rest period between sets. “Three times a week is enough to maintain general wellness. Cardio should be kept short but intense, no longer than 30-40 mins, 2-3 times a week after Iftar,” says Nana.
3. Maximize your workout and metabolism
Nana suggests to keep cardio intense by performing interval cardio training for no longer than 30 min-45 mins. Avoid long steady pace cardio as it will stress your body, she says. For strength/weight training days, depending on time of workout, listen to your body on how it feels. “If you’re working out during the day, take some load off and focus on your form, intention, eccentric movements and breathing,” says Nana. “If you’re working out after Iftar, you are free to push yourself or resume with your typical training regime.” To optimize your workout, Nana suggests to have a pick-me-up energy booster such as a half serving of black coffee with cinnamon or green tea. “Have some L-Carnitine before and after workout too. Don’t forget your essential BCAA’s (Brain-chained Amino Acids) and Glutamine during intra workout.” To maximize your metabolism, Nana suggests having a small meal during Iftar and avoid binging. “Have frequent small meals every 1 hour to 2 hours until bed time. Keep your workout short – 45 mins to 1 hour. It is essential to have protein in every meal pairing it with either fiber or carbs.”
4. Get the right nutrition
Without proper nutrition, the body will undergo a catabolic process due to the lack of nutrients, lethargic-ness, decrease in strength, poor recovery and low immune system as well as dehydration. For individual who works out during the day, Nana says it is essential to fuel the body with good quality vitamins and food to replenish their system. “A short quick power nap after a workout session could help reset your energy.” says Nana. “Have plenty of water during sahur and after Iftar to ensure good hydration. Maximize your nutrient intake from natural foods, consume good sources of lean protein, and include sufficient amount of complex carbs, fats and fibre,” says Nana. Avoid salty, sweet sugary food that are loaded with refined sugar as these will bloat you and make you feel less productive during the day.