The holy month of Ramadan is very special for many people. A time of reflection, love, family, and celebration. And while this month is a true blessing for everyone, fasting and sticking to an exercise schedule poses great challenges for many.
Every year we are bombarded with questions about when is the best time to exercise, what kind of exercise to do, what foods to eat, and how to lose weight healthily during Ramadan.
But the truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all master plan. The answer is different for everyone and depends on your current fitness routine and your own goals. To help you with the planning, we have 5 tips for you:
Tip 1: Listen to your body
During Lent, our body goes through several changes. In the first 0-4 hours after eating, our body produces insulin, which helps us convert the last meal into glucose – the body’s main source of energy. Depending on how active we are and how much energy we need after eating, we store what we don’t use as glycogen in our muscles and liver.
Over the next 4-16 hours, our bodies begin to break down this stored energy and convert it into glucose for immediate use. In this phase, most people struggle with food cravings, lack of concentration, slight tiredness, and lack of energy – especially if you are not used to fasting. It’s an extra challenge for the body when you’re drinking less and changing your sleeping habits.
That’s why we recommend using the first few days to see how you’re feeling and if you’re adjusting to your new eating and sleeping routine quickly.
Tip 2: Choose a time that suits you
After using the first few days as an adjustment period, you should find out when your energy level rises and falls. Do you have more energy before iftar or more between iftar and suhur?
Before you start training, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you usually exercise before or after eating?
- Do you sweat easily while exercising?
- Do you drink a lot of water while exercising?
- How do you feel after training and how long does it take you to recover from sore muscles?
The best way to do this is to stick to your usual routine as much as possible and adjust it slightly during Lent. For example, if you exercise at least 20-30 minutes before iftar or between iftar and sahur, you’ll have an easier time recovering and rehydrating your body after exercise.
Tip 3: Analyze your goals and adapt them to your needs
The success of any fitness goal depends heavily on adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and an efficient exercise program. Due to the changed sleeping and eating times, recovery after intense physical exertion takes longer than usual, because your stress and cortisol levels naturally rise and your body’s energy requirements are also higher as a result.
That’s why your first focus should be on maintaining the gains you made before fasting, rather than creating a new training plan or setting new goals. If you are a beginner or do not yet have a fixed training program – but want to start during this time – then light strength training is right for you. The best time for this is between Iftar and Sahur.
If you want to lose weight this Ramadan, then pay more attention to the foods you eat when you break your fast. High-fiber and starchy foods are particularly good here:
- whole-grain products
- Brown rice
- Potatoes (with skin)
- Green vegetables
Our body takes longer to digest these foods. Therefore, they slowly release energy throughout the day and keep blood sugar levels low. They also promote insulin sensitivity, which is great for those looking to burn fat.
You should also consume high-quality protein such as fish, meat, beans, milk, whey protein, and yogurt. This regulates the metabolism, prevents or slows down muscle breakdown during fasting, reduces cravings, and ensures a long feeling of satiety.
Of course, if you want to build muscle, you should still have a calorie surplus. You should make sure that most of the calories come from carbohydrates. Also, grow a higher proportion of proteins and BCAAs into your diet to really get as much muscle as possible.
Tip 4: Create a training plan that you can easily stick to
It’s significantly more motivating, less stressful, and easier to focus on a simple workout plan. Here are the key points to keep in mind when creating your plan:
- Exercise: Steady endurance training
- Intensity: Light-Medium
- Best training time: Always
Steady endurance training is good for the circulatory system, gets oxygen to the muscles quickly, aids in recovery, improves digestion, and can have a positive effect on energy levels. For cardio we recommend: brisk walks, running on the treadmill, cycling, and cross-trainer.
- Exercise: HIIT
- Intensity: High
- Best training time: Between Iftar and Sahur
HIIT is not for everyone during Ramadan. It’s very taxing on the body, leads to higher post-exercise oxygen consumption, and causes you to burn calories long after your workout.
If you have chosen the right time for your training this month, nothing stands in the way of your success. It’s best to break your fast with something light and very liquid, as usual, and then do a short HIIT workout (10-20 minutes) before eating a full post-workout meal.
- Exercise: strength training
- Intestinal: Mild-Medium
- Best training time: Just before Iftar or just before Sahur
Strength training is one of the best ways to maintain muscle and keep your metabolism pumped during this holy month. You should use moderate weight or resistance and build your strength by moving slowly, tightening your muscles, and taking longer breaks between exercises.
Tip 5: Getting enough sleep is important
We know that with all the excitement, celebrations, and family gatherings in the evenings, this can be a challenge. But it is important to get as many hours of sleep as possible.
This will be easier for you if you don’t overeat during iftar, cut down on sugar and caffeine, keep heavy and fried foods to a minimum, and allow a few hours between meals and bedtime. If possible, try to go to sleep at about the same time each night (plus or minus a few minutes difference).
Getting a good night’s sleep allows your cortisol to be properly metabolized and increases your recovery time. It also puts you in a good mood and makes fasting easier for you every day.
Ramadan is a time of reflection, gratitude, and love. That’s why you should always remember to be kind – not only to others but also to yourself. The above tips should give you a little help to stay fit this month. But the most important thing is still to listen to your own body.
Between Iftar and Sahur you should make sure to supply your body with enough liquid. You can also do this with fruits and vegetables with a high water content such as cucumbers, watermelons, oranges, avocados, tomatoes, and apples.
It’s also extremely important to look out for signs of severe dehydration throughout the day. As soon as you get dizzy, nauseated, or your heart starts beating faster, you should stop any physical exertion or activity and consult a doctor.