The importance of all year-round nutrition – especially during Ramadan

Red Bull's Shaikha Al Qassemi on staying fit and healthy during the Holy Month


As part of my passionate endeavor to educate the public about better ways to embrace a fitter, healthier and balanced lifestyle, I have come up with a series of articles to share with you to take you one step closer to living better.

As we approach the month of Ramadan, my last article for this series will be to ensure that the month of Ramadan you are energized, well rested and hydrated!

As we all know, during the month of Ramadan, all the temptations rise to surface with family and friends gathered around mountains of delectable savory and sweet snacks. We forget to hydrate ourselves because we are too tired and the only thing that would help us function is either tea or coffee. We spend most of our hours sleeping or sitting and don’t move enough,  so here’s a few things that you can do differently during this holy month.

  1. Hydration: It is vital that you continue to hydrate yourself from when you break your fast until sunrise. Hydration prevents intoxication, muscle cramps, muscle fatigue and stimulates metabolism of proteins and carbs. We are limited with time to get enough water in so I suggest to fill your meals with water based fruits and vegetables as well. Coconut water is a great way to hydrate as well, drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water a day as well as some coconut water or added electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that are very important for human health, some of those minerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium and potassium. Electrolytes are responsible for directing water and nutrients to the body where it’s needed to make sure fluids are balanced in the cells.

  1. Ditch the sugars for nuts: Whether you are on a low carb or high carb diet, I would like you to look into increasing your fats during this month. Fats will help you stay focused, energized and will suppress your hunger for longer. I know how hard it is to resist those Nutella filled cupcakes and lotus dipped EVERYTHING. But try to limit your sugar intake as much as possible and substitute sugars for healthy fats and carbs like a handful of nuts.
  2. Food and exercise: Why I put the two in one point is very important. We have done it every year “I’ll have a light meal then go work out” then our stomach monsters take over and consume 2 plates at iftar. Food: I urge you this year to try to control your portions at iftar because your stomach has been empty for more than 15 hours. A lighter meal will prepare your stomach for easier digestion throughout the night. Make sure you focus on well balanced meals, a good amount of protein, carbs and a little more fat than you’re used to. Your fats will come from sources of fatty protein like salmon or red meat or from salad dressings, avocado and nuts. Every Ramadan I break my fast with oatmeal with either fish or chicken as my protein source. Oats help me stay full a litter longer and is a great source of energy before my sessions as well as a can of RedBull. I usually have a can post iftar to help with energy levels and also digestion. RedBull contains B vitamins that aid towards better digestion. Exercise: If you do exercise while fasting, make sure that you are not pushing yourselves too hard during workouts, to avoid nausea, dizziness and dehydration, be mindful of your training while fasting.

  1. Sleep: The month of hibernation! We sleep more during Ramadan than the rest of the year don’t we? This year my plan is to divide my sleep into chunks of hours to make sure I get in 8-9 hours of sleep in total but not at one go. Now this will help me get enough water and food throughout the night if I do get 2-3 hours of sleep in the evening and 6-7 hours from suhoor to early afternoon. That way I get to have a better sleeping cycle than putting myself through a complete life change in one month and spend the following month trying to reverse it.

At the end of the day, this all depends on your personal preference and what you find accommodates your lifestyle. Find what works for you and get it going!

That’s it from me, I hope you have a mindful beautiful month of Ramadan!

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