With Ramadan approaching, many people will be following a fasting protocol.
Fasting is excellent for mental, spiritual and physical discipline. It can also be beneficial for body composition (especially fat loss) improvements - but it's important that considerations and adaptations are made to ensure an excellent outcome.
If fasting is done incorrectly you can lose momentum and hard earned progress with your fitness.
So, for those of you who are fasting, either during ramadan or for other reasons - here is a quick list of do's and don'ts.
WHAT TO DO
- Eat at least 30% protein. Protein is the building blocks of health and you'll want to make sure you have enough. Even if your calories are low, make sure your protein isn't. Sufficient protein will be used for repair and any excess will be converted for energy!
- Get the calories in. Fats are excellent for this as they are calorie dense - with smaller eating windows, your digestive tract will struggle to digest sufficient calories if they are voluminous. Fats take up less space in the digestive tract and therefore you can eat more of them in a single sitting.
- Try and eat as much quality, nutrient rich food as you can. You may be eating fewer calories, but that doesn't mean you can eat whatever you like. In fact, the opposite may be true. With less calories eaten you'll need to make sure the ones you do eat are good ones.
- You probably don't need to aim for a deficit. During a fast, your appetite will usually reduce. Unless you consciously try to eat as many calories as you are now OR you eat high amounts of junk food during your eating window, you are unlikely to be eating as much.
- Hydrate as well and as often as you can. You'll want to get water in - but don't drink it all at once. Space it out as much as you can! Try and avoid all diuretics like coffee and tea.
- Minimise cardio workouts. Cardio is great, but you're unlikely to have as much additional energy as you usually do, therefore, the extra calories spent on cardio may be better used elsewhere.
- Train either at night (if this can work for you) or first thing in the morning. Hydration is the big issue here. You'll want to train at a time when you are not dehydrated. If you do train in the morning - it would be useful to have some water during the night.
- Increase resistance workouts (we recommend the Pure Resistance Plan). Resistance workouts lose less water and use less calories. You'll be able to maintain your muscle strength, mobilisation and baseline fitness levels while losing fat if you are in a deficit.
- Mobilisation and recovery workouts. Doing a lighter session or even a stretch session will keep your body moving. Keep moving, even if it's light and gentle.
WHAT NOT TO DO
- Train when you’re dehydrated. This is an incredibly bad idea in almost every way. If you can manage to hydrate in the hours before training this is a big win! Morning or night is best!
- Too much cardio training. You'll probably want to preserve calories so excessive cardio is not required. Your total energy expenditure will almost certainly be in a deficit, so there is no need to add further. Resistance will maintain baseline cardio fitness.
- Eating whatever you like when it’s time to eat. This is a bad idea all of the time. Your body needs good quality foods. If you're not eating as much, this becomes even more important.
- No training at all. This is not helpful and can make it difficult to find the momentum once ramadan is over as well as cause loss of fitness. Try and move regularly, even if it is with much lighter sessions (as outlined above).
- Increase your calories and eating times too rapidly once Ramadan is over. You're better to change your eating habits, training method and calorie levels gradually so your body has time to adjust - and thus avoiding rebound weight gain.
Final bonus tip
Use the boost! If you can stay active and eat healthy during Ramadan, the weeks afterwards represent an excellent opportunity to make wonderful and rapid progress with your health as your energy and stamina get a boost! Take advantage!