Ramadan can be a golden opportunity to benefit your weight and detox your body, provided you eat right. Fasting is a challenge and affects your body in many ways. Your body undergoes quite a drastic change from receiving food and water on a regular basis to not receiving anything for an extended amount of time; it understandably causes a shock to the system. Your body becomes unsure whether food will be readily available and as a result of this, tries to reserve as much energy as possible by slowing down your metabolism.
Your metabolism is the speed at which your body converts food into energy. A slow metabolism means that the food is converted into energy much slower, which can result in weight gain particularly after Ramadan when normal eating habits are resumed. Therefore it is important that during Ramadan you undertake measures to keep your metabolism as normal as possible. Remember, there is no need to consume the same amount of food as regular days, because during Ramadan you have a less active lifestyle which means you use less energy.
Six steps to control your metabolism during Ramadan
- A meal should be a meal and not a feast.
Eat enough but don’t overload yourself with food as a result of feeling very hungry after fasting. Eat healthy, try to have vegetables and fruits in your diet and switch to lean meats (grilled fish, lean beef, skinless chicken – always remove any visible fat before cooking).Try to have less fat content in your meals (baking or grilling instead of frying, no added margarine or butter, measure the oil in spoonfuls instead of just pouring it from the bottle) and avoid simple sugars by shifting to complex carbohydrates which are rich in fiber, such as those found in grains and seeds. For example, whole-wheat bread, beans, fruits and vegetables should be eaten, particularly during suhoor. Fiber-rich foods help increase the feeling of fullness, promote good blood glucose levels and help with regularity. Fasting during the day can also increase stomach acid content and cause feelings of pain or discomfort. High-fiber foods during dinner can help neutralize this acid and alleviate pain. Eat more protein. This is good for your metabolism; in addition, protein is a muscle builder. Lean protein is better – more good stuff for fewer calories. Your body takes a bit more work to burn this stuff too.
- Fried and fatty foods such as French fries, sweets, fried sambousa, greasy curries and biryani. High-fat foods are high in calories and are nutrient deficient which will lead to an imbalanced diet, thereby increasing sluggishness and fatigue during Ramadan.
- Salt and salted food, such as pickles, high salt sauces (barbeque, soy, teriyaki), nuts, chips and olives. Dehydration is a risk due to limited fluid intake during the day; high salt foods can further increase this risk by drawing fluids out of your body.
- Foods containing too much sugar such as sweet glucose energy drinks. These are sources of empty calories with very little nutritional value. While they may provide you with instant energy, they will not sustain you through the day and night.
- Overeating especially at suhoor can cause further metabolic imbalance, like highs and lows in your blood sugar and dehydration.
- Too much tea or caffeine at suhoor. Both of these are diuretics when consumed in large quantities and the body can lose valuable minerals, salts and fluids that you need during the day.
- Eat more frequently but smaller meals.
Try to eat 4-5 small meals during the night. By getting food into your body regularly, you keep your metabolism firing and leave your body in a much better state to burn some energy for you. And whenever you eat only one big meal at futoor, your body immediately stores it as fat for fear of starvation.
Eat slowly and chew food well. Because you have not eaten all day, there will be a tendency to want to eat a large quantity of food quickly. Remember that it takes twenty minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full – put small portions on your plate first.
- Increase incidental physical activity.
Do some cardio work outs. Being active will automatically give a short term boost to your metabolism. For example, park your car a little further away than normal and walk; and take the stairs occasionally. Just by simply being more active which is called incidental activity, you will get an increase in your metabolism. Walking, brisk walking, jogging and cycling are other cardio workouts that can be done in Ramadan to increase your metabolism.
- Do some weight training after futoor.
Even if you only lift light weights, weight training is the ultimate exercise for firing up your metabolism. The more intense your exercise and the more muscles you get involved, the better metabolism increase you will get. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be. However, make sure you do them after your futoor, not on an empty stomach.
- Drink much water.
It is advisable to consume at least 8-12 cups so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time for the next day.
- Make sure to have enough sleep.
If your body is exhausted then the efficiency with which it burns calories goes down. A well rested body is more efficient. Fasting neither affects the quality of sleep nor does it cause excessive sleepiness during the day. The sleep changes at Ramadan could be a result of the change in the lifestyle during the fasting month. Consequently, people are recommended to get sufficient sleep at night and sleep in the day for a short time. In addition, excessive eating at night, particularly prior to sleep leads to sleep disorders and an increase of the acid influx into esophagus, which affects the sleep quality.
In conclusion, getting trapped in the empty promises of fad diets and misconceptions will result in poor health outcomes and in a slow metabolism that will have you rebound all your lost weight a few weeks after Ramadan is over. There’s always a way to modify such meals or to have control over how often they are served. The key is variety, frequency and portions! Ramadan Kareem!< Back