Dxbuzz: Fitness while fasting

Opt for a balanced meal incorporating produce, protein, probiotic foodstuff and a few slightly sweet and salty side dishes to enjoy.
Opt for a balanced meal incorporating produce, protein, probiotic foodstuff and a few slightly sweet and salty side dishes to enjoy.

Ramadan is a time of spirituality, reflection and charity. During this month, Muslims all over the world take up fasting, give up worldly pleasures, spend time in prayer, perform acts of charity and focus on purifying the mind and body

By Swathy Sanjay Sindhu

Published: Tue 31 Mar 2020, 9:57 AM

Last updated: Tue 31 Mar 2020, 12:03 PM

With the Holy Month of Ramadan likely to begin on April 24 this year, and given that we are now in the transition from winter to summer while simultaneously dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak, it is important to boost our immunity systems before the ritual of fasting is upon us. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and this can cause confusion and anxiety. Stick to the basics - adequate nutrition, moderate exercise and reducing stress and anxiety are of utmost importance in order to ensure that one stays fit and healthy while fasting throughout upcoming months.
Exercise versus exertion
During self-isolation, it is recommended to engage in light to moderate at exercises at home. The World Health Organisation recommends that adults engage in 30 minutes of exercise a day and children get atleast one hour of physical activity. In addition to reducing stress levels and balancing hormones, exercise also boosts immunity due to these factors. During periods of fasting, getting an adequate amount of exercise can prove difficult, and there is also a risk of overdoing physical activity. Not only is there an increased lack of motivation but exercising without energy-giving sources in your system can be dangerous. To engage in physical activity safely while fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, it is recommended to exercise an hour before iftar. Opt for low intensity workouts at slow paces and take rest breaks at regular short intervals, keeping workouts to no more than 40 minutes.
Food habits
To supplement exercise and help repair and build lean muscle during days of fasting, include lean protein from chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and lentils in iftar dishes. During iftar, opt for low-carb options to avoid an energy crash after eating, and incorporate fresh salads with citrus and immunity-boosting fruits and vegetables in all meals.
Stay away from foods that are very spicy and high in salt, as these can cause increased stomach acids, leading to various gastrointestinal problems. Opt for a balanced meal incorporating produce, protein, probiotic foodstuff and a few slightly sweet and salty side dishes to enjoy.
Mindful eating
Consuming large quantities of food after a period of fasting can lead to stomach complications and leave you susceptible to other illnesses. It can also cause fatigue and exhaustion. Eating lots of fattening foods can not only cause an excess production of stomach acids but can lead to disturbed sleep.
If not regulated early on during the fasting period, overeating can lead to loss of control even after the one has stopped fasting. Make sure to properly plan iftar meals ahead of time to avoid the side-effects of overeating or eating unhealthy foods.
Maintaining hydration levels is of utmost importance during the fasting period. To replenish fluids in the system, hydrate thoroughly during suhoor and iftar. When breaking the fast, drink water and avoid juices or sugary drinks. Soft drinks, carbonated beverages and even some artificial fruit juices can add unwanted calories to meals. Another recommendation is to avoid caffeine if possible, as this causes dehydration. For a boost of energy and nutrients in one go, try a protein shake that incorporates a suitable protein powder blended with fruits such as dates, bananas and watermelon.
Adequate sleep
To manage and balance weight regulating hormones, and many others that are important to sound functioning of the body and immune system, make sure to get the same amount of sleep at the same time every day. The standard recommendation of seven or eight hours of sleep applies here, so make sure you have a routine going from now to ensure that it will be easy to follow throughout the period of fasting, and after.
Manage stress
Dealing with being 'hangry' throughout the course of a workday can be a significant struggle and lead to a decrease in productivity, while increasing the chances of contracting illness due to a compromised immune system. In addition to this is also the uncertainty of the testing times that lay before us, and this can wreak havoc on our happiness and mental health. All these factors may aggravate hunger and lead to stress eating during iftar meals. In preparation for the coming month of abundance and blessings, take the time to understand the sources of your stress and anxiety and attempt to eliminate these, to focus on gratitude wholeheartedly.
Taking proactive steps to create a stress-free atmosphere in preparation for the upcoming month can reap many rewards, especially that of more time and ability to focus on the aspect of spirituality throughout the holy month of Ramadan, and after.

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