Staying Fit During Ramadan
Tips from a Top Trainer
By Laila Rostom
The time of the year when the city lights vibrate with coloured lanterns is just around the corner. The month when friends and families gather over meals with gratitude when everyone awaits sunset in anticipation of breaking their fast. The holy month of Ramadan has yet again hit us during the mid-summer heat, and we need to be prepared.
Armed with questions about how to take care of our health during Ramadan, Cairo West Magazine sat with Gold’s Gym Head Trainer Ahmed El Sayed, to get all the tips and tricks needed to stay healthy, fit and most importantly hydrated this Ramadan or as we prefer to call it the Ramadan in June Survival Guide.
CWM: How should we adjust our type of workout in Ramadan?
AS: Primarily, perform less intense workouts in order to reduce stress on the body. Since your body is already in starvation mode, too much stress causes the release of stress hormones which can have adverse effects on the body and may even lead to weight gain. My advice is to keep the work outs at a below average intensity unless you do your workouts post iftar and your body is well replenished, hydrated and recovered.
Should we aim to work out at certain times of day?
It depends on the type of workout and your main targets. For the average user looking to decrease fat, a low intensity workouts pre iftar is recommended. For the average user looking to gain muscle, post iftar is recommended, preferably two meals after, when the body has been well fed with the nutrients needed for a sufficient recovery.
What are your tips for avoiding dehydration when working out while fasting during a hot month?
Replenish, replenish, replenish, as much as you can throughout the second half of the day. Also try to avoid foods that dehydrate the body such as, foods that have a high content of sodium (mekhalel, fried foods). Sugary drinks, while they might seem refreshing at first, however, drinks with high-sugar content create an acidic environment, which decreases your body’s water storage capacity. Also try to limit the amount of caffeine intake, while we all need our few cups of coffee after iftar, however, caffeine speeds up the dehydration process. If you are active daily, make sure you are well hydrated before working out. It is essential to stock up on foods and drinks that can maintain your hydration throughout the day such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers, basically any foods with high water content.
Do you recommend taking additional supplements during the month of fasting?
That depends on a variety of things. Supplements are supposed to complement the body not replace food and therefore the need to take supplements varies from one person to another. First thing first, know your body’s required intake. You should always try first to get the required vitamins, minerals and macronutrients from food. If there happens to be some kind of deficiency, whether proteins or fat, then you should make up the difference from supplements and vitamins such as omega or whey protein.
Are there simple maintenance fitness program people can follow, if they do not want to have a full workout routine?
The best thing to do is to follow a plan that is personalized for your body type, target and current fit status. If you find an adaptable fitness program online which suits your Ramadan schedule, make sure it fits your most current athletic and wellbeing status as well as your personal capabilities.
What are your 6 top tips for people to stay fit and in shape during Ramadan?
- Plenty of rest and adequate sleep.
- No binge eating at iftar or sohoor.
- High sugar drinks/ foods, BIG NO NO!
- From the performance perspective, know your body's requirements in order to maintain or to increase your performance in Ramadan.
- Low intense workouts post iftar. More than 90% of athlete’s workout post iftar.
Should we expect a drop in our fitness level during this month because of fasting?
Yes, but you can maintain as long as you follow a very professional plan of food sleep and workouts post iftar that could get you back on track in no time.
Are there certain types of workouts you find are ideal while fasting?
Low intensity cardio is fine. You can also do resistance training, as long you don’t over exert effort.
While maintaining your health and fitness status is essential, at certain times it can get much more challenging than it already is, however the challenge in itself is what strengths our dedication to keep us going. Whatever you choose to do to make this Ramadan healthier remember, it’s all about balancing a healthy lifestyle that fits your own limits.