Ramadan Fitness - A Comprehensive Guide to Exercise Nutrition Hydration and Sleep by Best Personal Trainer in Dubai Abhinav Malhotra

Ramadan Fitness – A Comprehensive Guide To Training, Nutrition, Sleep And Hydration During Ramadan

This guide is aimed at helping the people who are fasting understand how to go about their training, nutrition and lifestyle in the holy month of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan is characterized by a window of fasting (from dawn to sunset), followed by a feeding window from sunset to dawn).

Like everything else in fitness, there is no one best way of doing it. However, in my many years of training and coaching people, I am writing down a few options on both training and nutrition.

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TRAINING

The two best times to train during Ramadan (with pros and cons to both approaches) are :

  • TRAINING FASTED (just before Iftar)
  • TRAINING FED (1-2 hours after Iftar)

Type of training : Resistance training should be the crux of any training plan during Ramadan. This will retain most of your muscles and strength, and will help you feel energized during the entire fasting month. Any high intensity cardiovascular training should generally be avoided because of recovery, sleep, hydration and performance issues.

Training before Iftar (in a fasted state)

This might sound challenging but most people do enjoy it, especially after the initial couple of days of training. The body gets used to training in a fasted state and develops mental focus and intensity tolerance.

Low insulin levels during fasting, leads to production of more catecholamines (adrenaline and nor-adrenaline). These catecholamines help you focus better and intensity.

Fasted training (before Iftar) also leads to better partitioning of nutrients which are consumed during Iftar. After a full day of fasting, followed by a training session, the body will be hungry for nutrients, therefore consumed carbohydrates will be easily stored as muscle glycogen and proteins will quickly go to the damaged muscle fibres to kickstart repair and growth.

Training before Iftar will also allow time to enjoy with family and friends for Iftar and give you enough time to sleep.

Training after Iftar (in a fed state)

This is another good time to schedule in training. Many people feel more energized to train after eating than when they are fasting. If you are one of those people, consider exercising after breaking your fast. With the presence of more glucose and amino acids circulating in the blood, the body is more favorable to support high volume training (as opposed to fasted training)

TIP: It is important to get the training sessions in and not miss any workouts. If you’re a person who feels more sluggish after Iftar and have difficulty sleeping after intense training sessions in the evening, then try switching to fasted training before Iftar.

TRAINING PROTOCOLS: Focus is on muscle and strength retention, as its very unlikely that you can build strength and muscle during Ramadan (not impossible though).

FASTED TRAINING

For intermediate to advanced athletes –

  • Keep volume low (total 15-16 working sets a day) & intensity high.
  • Train heavy (5 to 8 rep maxes)
  • Focus on big lifts and major compound movements
  • Training frequency (3-4 times a week).
  • Avoid high repetition metabolic work
  • Good time to work on mobility and stability work

For beginner to intermediate trainees –

  • Good time to work on technique correction and exercise execution
  • Do light – moderate weights but still keep the volume low to moderate. Fasted training is not a good time to do high volume trainings
  • Good time to work on mobility and stability work
  • FED TRAINING (1-2 hours after IFTAR)
  • Train as normal
  • Volumes can be increased as the body is now fed and so can be the intensity

FED TRAINING (1-2 hours after IFTAR)

  • Train as normal
  • Volumes can be increased as the body is now fed and so can be the intensity

NUTRITION  

People are supposed to fast between sun-rise and sun-set followed by the eating window between sun-set to sun-rise. This fasting window will therefore change from season to season and in which part of the world you are.

Tracking calories is not a very practical way to go about in Ramadan (but can be done if someone wants it).

Major focus should be to get in the required amount of PROTEIN in. This can be the most challenging thing specially for bigger and advanced trainees as the no. of meals are few and one also has to get the sleep, prayers and possibly training in.

There is no one best way to eat, but few of the possible nutrition options are :

If TRAINING FASTED !!!

Nutrition

  • 1st Meal : After breaking fast with dates (minimize quantity).

Have a fast digesting protein scoop like WHEY ISOLATE.

  • BIG DINNER : Focus on Whole Foods – lot of meat + rice + veggies.

Prioritize on your protein intake in the meals as completing protein intake can be a challenge

  • Don’t have anything junk like sweets and fried food like samosas etc. (This will make u ingest lot of of calories + make you feel thirsty throughout next day !!!).
  • Have your fruits & vegetables intake for micro-nutrients. 1-2 servings of Fruits will also help with hydration but don’t go overboard with them.
  • Have coconut water between meals for ample hydration and electrolytes.
  • 2nd meal (around night prayer time) : Protein smoothie
  • 3RD meal (dawn) : 1 protein source (egg, chicken, meat) + 1 carb source (bread/rice).

Priority should be given to solid meats which stay in the gut for a long time and you don’t feel hungry during the day. But some people cannot have meats in the morning, and like to have eggs or Greek yogurt as their protein source

If TRAINING AFTER IFTAAR

Nutrition

  • 1st Meal : After breaking fast with dates (minimize quantity).

Have a fast digesting protein scoop like WHEY ISOLATE + small portion of complex carb like oats + small fruit.

Or

Have a light meal with small portion of any protein source and rice/bread.

  • POST TRAINING : BIG DINNER

Focus on Whole Foods – lot of meat + rice + veggies.

Prioritize on your protein intake in the meals as completing protein intake can be a challenge

  • Don’t have anything junk like sweets and fried food like samosas etc. (This will make u ingest lot of of calories + make you feel thirsty throughout next day !!!).
  • Have your fruits & vegetables intake for micro-nutrients. 1-2 servings of Fruits will also help with hydration but don’t go overboard with them.
  • Have coconut water between meals for ample hydration and electrolytes.
  • 2nd meal (around night prayer time) : Protein smoothie
  • 3RD meal (dawn) : 1 protein source (egg, chicken, meat) + 1 carb source (bread/rice).

Priority should be given to solid meats which stay in the gut for a long time and you don’t feel hungry during the day. But some people cannot have meats in the morning, and like to have eggs or Greek yogurt as their protein source

TIPS FOR OPTIMAL HYDRATION

Keeping optimal hydration in the body is a difficult task during Ramadan as it gets difficult to drink the required water in the non-fasting hours. Here are some tips from my side for optimal hydration :

  • Soups : In Iftar time, you can start with soups as an appetizer and then go for the main meal.
  • Protein shakes : This solves a dual purpose of getting your protein in as well as your water intake.
  • Fruits : try choosing fruits high in water like watermelon, papaya, pineapple, oranges, apple etc.
  • Vegetables : try choosing vegetables high in water content like cucumber, iceberg, lettuce, bell peppers etc
  • Coconut water : an amazing source to stay hydrated and get in your electrolytes.
  • Intra workout fluids : if training after iftar, carry your intra workout fluids like EAAs, Gatorade or any electrolyte drink or just plain water at least.

SLEEP

Normally we should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of undisturbed sleep every night. But in Ramadan, this becomes impossible because of the prayer timings.

Sleep will always be compromised during Ramadan specially for working individuals.

Hence getting in a total of minimum 6 hours of sleep through the day broken into parts should be aimed for.

  • Try to sleep at least 4 hours in the night between Iftar and morning prayers (at dawn).
  • Return to sleep for a coupld of hours before getting up for the day ahead.
  • Try planning a fixed SLEEP ROUTINE for Ramadan (adjusted according to prayer timings) – so that you’re sleeping and waking up at the same time.
  • POWER NAP : A 20-30 power nap during the afternoon may help if you have a chance of doing so.
  • Avoid eating heavy, too sugary or fatty just before you sleep (like iftar) – it may interfere with your sleep
  • Sleep hygiene – Setting up the right sleep environment is crucial. A dark , cool and quiet place will help getting and staying asleep without any disruption.
  • Eliminate blue light exposure – Avoid blue light exposure from screens – mobile phones, laptop, tv screen at least a couple of hours before sleep.

Please contact me to learn what we can do through our nutrition and personal training services for kids, teens, adults, elders, athletes and models in Dubai and online across the UAE and around the world to achieve your fat loss, weight loss, muscle gain, strength gain, rehab and figure / physique transformation goals.

Many female and male clients including kids, teens, adults and elderly people have greatly benefited from Abhinav’s strong experience as the best personal trainer and nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. You can see some of his client transformations here.

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About Author

Abhinav Malhotra

Abhinav Malhotra is an award-winning personal trainer, coach and sports nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. He also offers online services to clients around the world. A personal trainer par excellence, Abhi has worked with the world’s leading fitness chains, supplement brands and founded his own fitness academy in India. He has achieved successes for many clients from all backgrounds and has trained the Indian Army Rugby Team. He is the first International Kettlebell Sport athlete from India.

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