Ramadan is a special time for millions of Muslims around the world and is a period of devoted worship and self-reflection.
Fasting is at the heart of the 30-day period, where Muslims will refrain from consuming food and drink from dawn until sunset.
These long hours with no food and water can be challenging in conjunction with personal health and fitness goals – but this does not mean that you cannot continue to work towards these goals and still progress.
After all, you want to maximise this month spiritually by feeling and performing at your best!
Here are our top tips on how to optimise your nutrition and training to help you stay motivated throughout Ramadan:
1. Exercise intelligently
Strength training is key to improving your physique and is even more critical during Ramadan.
However, during a month of fasting, your body will be under increased stress, so your level of exercise should be at a level that you can recover from adequately.
As a general guideline, whole-body strength training 3 times a week is a great way to maintain strength and muscle, while keeping stress down.
2. Plan your workouts
The best time to train would be early in the morning, after your first meal, or after your first meal post-fasting so you are well fuelled for your session. Focus on high-intensity workouts that last no longer than roughly 45 minutes.
3. Eat good-quality food
During Iftar, be mindful that you are not overeating or under-eating in relation to your desired goals.
Ensure that your meals are high in quality proteins, fats and vegetables rather than calorie-dense, nutrient-poor processed foods, like cakes and fast food.
4. Plan meals in advance
Although a lot of your meals will be centred around social occasions with family and friends, if you do have a specific goal, do not be afraid to prepare your meals in advance so they are ready for Iftar – this means you can maximise your time and stay accountable.
5. Stay well hydrated
Water is vital for your body to function optimally – your strength and performance in the gym will suffer if you are dehydrated.
During Ramadan it is very easy to become increasingly dehydrated if you do not manage your water consumption well, so always aim to get your recommended daily water intake between Iftar and Suhur.
Electrolyte drinks, such as coconut water, can also help replace minerals such as potassium and sodium that are lost through sweat.
6. Optimise your sleep
Quality sleep is critical for healthy hormone balance, optimal production of testosterone and growth hormone, as well as reducing cortisol.
Sleep schedules will be affected during Ramadan, but you should still try to achieve a minimum of 6-7 hours.
Those working will most likely split sleep into two periods to accommodate the intake of water and nutrients and balance their social/work life.
7. Maintain your accountability
Whatever your goals, you want to create a structure where you are held accountable to them.
Whether that is enlisting the help of a personal trainer, or simply asking a friend or family member to check in with your progress and keep you focused.
Circumstances and your general approach may change, but your consistency should stay the same!
8. Do not give up!
Staying motivated and on top of your training and nutrition can be a challenge during Ramadan, so be patient with yourself and do what you can with what you have available to you and keep building on these.
Do not throw the towel in and quit – focus your energy on being organised, disciplined and find a routine that will keep your body focused and happy.