If you’re on the go but want to know the keys to maximising your health and fitness in ramadan, read this quick summary below:
- Fasting is a reminder to stay balanced. Use the opportunity to calibrate your mind, body, and soul before facing the rest of the year
- Eating in moderation coupled with healthy sleeping habits will help you maximise your health and fitness during this month
- Consistency is the key. Pick up the small wins early on in the month, and you’ll notice the positive results not too long after
- If you need support and motivation from your peers, then you might want to learn more about our special Ramadan group classes!
Best mindset to maximise fitness and health in ramadan
Most conversations around fitness and Ramadan tend to revolve around specific routines and detailed recipes for strict diets. While all ofthese are important discussions to be had, we find that starting a step deeper always helps to inform all other decisions.
The deeper step is to understand and get into the right frame of mind when planning for a healthy ramadan. You know you will be refraining from food and drink during the day for 30 days. The only way for you to make it through without seriously harming yourself is for you to learn how to pace yourself. If you’ve fasted for a few Ramadan’s, then your body will
be better accustomed to the change in habit. If it’s your first time, the transition will be slightly tougher.
The spark to this chain of successful transition into the month of Ramadan comes through the strength of your will power. Everyone has willpower. It’s just a matter of channelling it for the right reasons.
A young person once sat down with Khaled (aka KONGA) one day to find out how they could improve the quality of their life through movement and exercise. It was interesting for Khaled as he noticed a few minutes into the conversation the young athlete had expended his will power on things that worked against his success (like video games, foods with processed sugar, binge watching, etc…)
Throughout the conversation, Khaled reminded the young athlete that he did in fact have willpower. He had the willpower to wake up for the early morning prayer; he had the willpower to fast through the month of Ramadan despite being heavily dependent on snacking throughout the day, and more.
Now, he just needed to take that willpower one step further and apply it to his fitness routines. Not an ALL IN type of application, but something small and steady with gradual improvements.
In the same way, making the intention to workout or stay fit during Ramadan is commendable. It just requires you to have the right mindset, willpower, and realistic expectations of yourself.
Best times to train and workout
Once you’ve put yourself in the right mindset, you’re probably wondering when you should be training and working out. There’s tons of advice out there on the best time to train or workout during Ramadan. While each solution sounds great, we think that there is no one size fits all strategy for timing.
Instead, here are a few crucial principles you can keep in mind when trying to decide the best time for your workout:
- Your sleeping habits are a great indicator of when to take the opportunity to train and workout in Ramadan
- Give yourself enough time to sleep. Fasting with little sleep can throw your body way off balance. On the flip side, slightly improving your sleep schedule can work wonders and exponentially improve the quality of your life, fasting or not
- What time of year will you be fasting in?
- If it’s summer here in Mississauga, then you’ve got a very short window to eat, workout, sleep, and be up again for the next fast.
- If it’s winter or spring, then you’ll have more time to have a well moderated iftar and break before you start working out. You can bank on getting a good night’s sleep here as well if you plan your evening out well enough
- What will your diet realistically look like in Ramadan?
- Will you be attending many iftar gatherings or going to the mosque regularly? If so, you may have less control over what you eat and when you eat it.
- Try to stay hydrated with small sips of water throughout the night, and don’t try to eat to your fill or more in one sitting. Spread it out so you don’t end up in a type of food-coma before working out.
- If you’re an early riser, and know that you can maintain a healthy suhoor diet, then consider slotting your workout or training session in the morning.
- Are you new to working out or training during Ramadan?
- If you’re new to working out or training in the month of Ramadan, then you’ll want to start slowly and ease into it. Pick a time you can most easily commit to, and start light. As your body adjusts through the first week or two, you can look at adjusting your training to match with your capacity for the month
- If you’re new and know that you will struggle to stay consistent, then consider training or working out in a group setting where the atmosphere and environment are welcoming.
Best types of workout and training in ramadan
What to do in your workout is a hot topic. Some say you should capitalise on the opportunity to increase your strength training and build muscle. Others will say you should just try to maintain your pre-ramadan fitness and strength levels. Yet others may recommend some extreme diets and routines that might not be as sustainable.
Here are a few good principles to keep in mind when deciding what to focus on in Ramadan:
- Look at your current routine and goals. What are you trying to accomplish? If you know where you’re headed, then you can decide what to focus on in Ramadan
- Most types of training and workout can be done really well in Ramadan. In fact, we strongly believe that you should stay active in Ramadan. Movement is medicine at the end of the day. How you treat your body will affect how you feel mentally, and how you engage spiritually.
- If you are just starting out, don’t stress too much about hitting higher muscle gain targets, or extreme weight loss goals. Instead, understand what your goals are, speak to someone with experience in both fasting and training, and find some people to tag along with you on the journey
- Muay Thai and other martial arts can be a great way to get active and build your confidence with small wins throughout the month of Ramadan
- You can follow along at home with videos that can walk you through the best movement-based exercises for the month of Ramadan if you’re first starting out
- If you think you’ll need the added motivation, then find a gym that will help you build the momentum without having to worry about high costs and having to maintain a certain external image
- Check out the golden advice Khaled “KONGA” Fahim has given in this entertaining, yet informative podcast on training while fasting
What should I eat during Ramadan?
Part of the beauty of Ramadan, as many muslims would agree, is that it is a type of cleansing of the soul through the body and mind. While you fast, you become more aware of your dietary intake. You have an opportunity to reflect and grow spiritually.
Unfortunately, we live in a society of instant gratification and praise for gluttonous habits. Keeping up with a balanced and healthy diet on a regular day seems hard enough! Yet, Ramadan is probably the best time to reset or improve your diet, especially if you are thinking about staying active during the month.
Here are some easy pointers for you to consider when deciding what to eat during this month:
- Don’t binge eat! Sounds reasonable enough, yet many people fall into this trap. Some will justify binge eating if they want to engage in high energy, intensive workouts before and after the fasting period. Others will keep their diet to a very minimum, and not eat much of anything for times like suhoor! Balance is the key
- You want to keep hydrated without chugging too much water down at once
- You want to increase your intake of electrolytes – These help you retain more water and hence, puts you in a better position to workout and have a positive fasting experience
- Find a way to moderate your eating by
- cutting out processed sugar where you can
- Having more fruits and vegetables
- Watching your intake of salty foods. Salty foods can dehydrate you faster, which is something you want to avoid
- Keep up with protein in moderation
- Seek advice from an expert, professional, or trainer to see where and how you can improve your current diet
- Enjoy and appreciate the food you are privy to. Not everyone has the same opportunities!
Should I go to a gym during ramadan?
The answer is that it really depends on you. Are you highly self-motivated and have the means to workout or train at home? Then, go for it!
What we’ve found over the years, especially during Ramadan, is that building a high sense of self-motivation and willpower takes time. The best way to get there faster is to train and workout with others just like yourself. That’s why we take our group training sessions very seriously.
We’ve seen some phenomenal results over the years, where people of all stripes come in for group training classes that have little confidence or drive and dramatically improve in a faster, more sustainable fashion.
For this reason, we always recommend going to the gym. Even if you prefer to workout or train on your own, the facilities at gyms give you more variety and allow you to focus on actually training instead of worrying about the tools you have at home.
Personal training or Group training during ramadan?
We’ve already said it, but it can’t be emphasised enough. When you’re already focused on completing fasts (whether it’s during the summer or winter time) and you want to get your diet right, sometimes making it through physical exercise at home can take less priority.
Even if you do end up working out or training at home, sometimes you don’t realise that you aren’t actually hitting your potential for each session. Having a partner or a group of peers to keep you in check throughout the session can make the world of a difference.
If you can’t make it to a local gym consistently, then consider ones that offer drop in sessions and plan your Ramadan accordingly. If that proves too difficult, then consider following along with some easy to do, yet powerful routines at home. Make sure the routine you follow comes from a qualified trainer, coach, or expert in the field. If you’re not sure where to start looking, you can always contact us with your questions and we’d be happy to help.
Should I lose weight or build muscle while fasting?
Again, the answer is both yes and no! It really depends on your goals as we’ve mentioned in previous sections of this post. Take stock of yourself before Ramadan starts. Figure out what you want to achieve, and then plan accordingly. Consulting a personal trainer, coach, and nutritionist may be good options for you if you’d like to make sure you have a fool-proof plan going into Ramadan.
For more on the question of weight loss and muscle mass, check out this entertaining yet informative podcast with founder Khaled “KONGA” Fahim.