Working out during Ramadan: Everything you need to know to stay fit this month

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The holy month of Ramadan is often celebrated around the world with large gatherings and elaborate meals with family and friends, but it is also a chance for people to be more conscious of their health.

Since those observing refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, it is a chance for them to watch what they eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Fasting during the day might leave some feeling too tired to exercise, but Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach Mulhima Ali Siddig shared workout tips with Al Arabiya English that can help people stay healthy and fit during Ramadan.

1. Is it better to work out before or after Iftar during Ramadan?

“Each have their own benefit. Working out before iftar is the best option if you are trying to lose any extra weight and get rid of stored fats since the glycemia [or blood sugar level] is at its lowest level by the end of a fasting day. So, the body transforms the stored fat into energy resources.

As for those who want to do post-Iftar workouts, it’s good to engage in high intensity workouts because you can consume water while the body burns any extra calories from your food intake.”

2. What workouts can people do while they’re fasting?

“In general, with low impact workouts, the body uses any stored fat as energy which helps with weight loss.
Body weight training – like squats, lunges, Total Body Resistance exercises, and hip thrusts – are your best friend.

You can also use light weights for shoulder press, chest press, and deadlifts.

UAE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach Mulhima Ali Siddig exercises. (Supplied)
UAE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach Mulhima Ali Siddig exercises. (Supplied)

If you want to add cardio while fasting, then do it right before you break your fast since high intensity workouts will eat up any glycogen [or stored glucose] and force the body to use protein for energy instead of stored fats.

When people engage in high intensity workouts while fasting, then their sugar levels drop and that’s when people start feeling dizzy and tired. So, It’s best to do cardio right before Iftar.”

A woman exercises on a machine in Antiguo Cuscatlan, El Salvador. (Reuters)
A woman exercises on a machine in Antiguo Cuscatlan, El Salvador. (Reuters)

3. What foods should people eat during Iftar/Suhoor if they are going to be working out throughout the month?

“If people will be working out during Ramadan they should eat Potassium-rich foods.

Foods that are high in potassium include beans, dark and leafy greens, potatoes, squash, yogurt, avocados, mushrooms, and bananas.

Dates are nutrient powerhouses that are a good source of potassium and an excellent food to break your fast with.

You should also eat hydrating vegetables, such as cucumbers, lettuce and other vegetables that are high in fiber and water.

It’s important to have more liquids like water and sugar free fresh juices.”

4. How much water should people drink if they are working out during Ramadan to prevent dehydration?

“Have you heard of the eight-by-eight rule for water intake?

The water intake in Ramadan shouldn’t change since people also tend to drink coffee, tea and juices during the month, which contain water as well.

But the secret here is avoid having sugary drinks or salty drinks as they make you really thirsty.”

The eight-by-eight rule means that you should consume eight eight-ounce glasses of water – or a total of two liters – every day.

5. Can having sugary foods, like desserts, during Ramadan affect people’s performance during their workouts?

“Having sugary foods will 100 percent affect people’s performance.

Refined sugar is the first thing that should be avoided, especially in Ramadan since we fast and our sugar levels drop.

Healthier options of sugar such as fruits, grains and milk are great sources of natural sugar since the body uses it as energy.”

Read more:

Ramadan: How to prevent feeling thirsty, tired while fasting

UAE doctors warn of overeating at Iftar to avoid a trip to the hospital

Ramadan: What do I eat for Iftar? A health expert answers all your questions

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