Managing Your Nutrition During Ramadan

Managing Your Nutrition During Ramadan

Managing Your Nutrition During Ramadan

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As we welcome the holy month of Ramadan, fasting yet once again becomes a daily part of our life. People from all walks of life, ages and gender participate in fasting as equals and strive to improve their spiritual self as devout Muslims. A holy month for all Muslims, it is internationally respected and dutifully followed in its entirety.

Amongst the most vital aspects of the month of Ramadan is fasting, which calls for abstinence from food and water as well as bad habits. To please Allah, Muslims develop empathy for the poor and less fortunate by experiencing their hunger through fasting. The self-imposed denial from food and water starts from Fajr and ends at the call for Maghrib prayers. This makes it both physiologically and psychologically demanding. While everyone does their best to reap the boundless benefits of Ramadan, it is vital to take care of one’s health in order to ensure completion of all blessed fasts.

Common Fasting Mistakes During Ramadan

Managing the right nutrition during Ramadan can become troublesome, since it takes effort to select the right food and refrain from indulging in fried, fatty food. However, just a little effort with the following tips can take you a long way, giving both spiritual and physical rewards of the month:

 

1. Consuming Excessive Caffeine

Source: trepup.com
Source: trepup.com

While helpful in moderation, excessive caffeine intake from food sources such as tea, coffee and sodas can cause problems with fasting. Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes the body to pass out water as urine, leaving you dehydrated. Refrain from it during Suhoor and consume in moderation at and after Iftari, when water can be drunk freely.

 

2. Consuming Fatty Food

Source: marham.pk
Source: marham.pk

Consuming oily, fatty food during Suhoor results in a heavy and bloated feeling, which can compromise the overall quality of the fast. The production of gas from bloating and the heavy feeling from digesting fats leaves an uneasy feeling throughout the fast. The body itself begins reacting negatively to fasting, as it starts storing these fats for later usage during fast, further contributing to obesity. However, unsaturated fats found in nuts, salmon and vegetable oil are safe for consumption as they do not contribute towards increased levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is bad for health.

 

3. Lack of Sleep

Source: medicalxpress.com
Source: medicalxpress.com

Sleep deprivation is one of the main problems that many fasting Muslims have to face during the holy month of Ramadan. Since the Suhoor meal requires waking up even before the call for Fajr prayers, it is naturally demanding and taxing on the sleep cycle if not managed properly. However, tweaking your routine with a few improvements such as preparing Suhoor beforehand, sleeping early and resting after Fajr prayers can have dramatic effects and assist in developing a normal sleep cycle.

 

4. Eating Processed Carbohydrates

Source: faithsighanddiy.com
Source: faithsighanddiy.com

Processed carbohydrates such as such as crisps, confectioner’s sweets and packaged junk food contains processed carbohydrates which hold little nutritional value and are swiftly consumed by the body. This leaves your body lacking in nutrients while fasting, leading to hunger pangs. Eating wholesome foods such as whole vegetables and grains which are rich in complex carbohydrates ensures a higher nutritional content as well as longer lasting effects in sating hunger.

 

The Benefits of Fasting

Fasting has been medically proven to hold immense health benefits. Ranging from greater immunity and stronger healing to curbing obesity and sharper mental clarity, fasting is Allah’s way to develop the mind, body and soul. Multiple scientific studies and researches have confirmed the following health benefits of fasting:

 

Managing Blood Glucose Levels

Source: jdrf.org.uk
Source: jdrf.org.uk

Fasting significantly reduces the blood sugar level since it is used up by the body and not replenished until the fast has been opened. As a result, the insulin resistance in the body is reduced, increasing the effect it has on maintaining blood sugar levels which enhances its effectiveness. Patients suffering from uncontrolled glucose or at risk of diabetes benefit greatly from fasting.

 

Reducing Body Fat

Source: myliporidex.com
Source: myliporidex.com

Fasting consumes the blood glucose, after which the glycogen in liver and skeletal muscles is consumed. After that, the body begins catabolizing the fat deposits, resulting in healthy weight loss. Continuous fasting during the holy month of Ramadan can significantly reduce bad weight without the risk of gaining it again if proper care is taken.

 

Stabilizes Metabolism

Source: thegoodista.com
Source: thegoodista.com

Fasting promotes a sense of fullness and hunger control. This is achieved through heightened Leptin sensitivity, which controls satiety. As the body becomes more sensitive to it due to prolonged durations of hunger from fasting, smaller amounts are required to promote a sense of satiety.

 

Detoxification

Source: christinebailey.co.uk
Source: christinebailey.co.uk

The prolonged dietary restrictions combined with hunger from fasting allows the body to redirect its focus on removing harmful compounds.

 

 

 

Controlled Metabolism

Source: www.healthline.com
Source: www.healthline.com

The hunger from fasting fuels metabolic activities in a timely fashion, leading to controlled metabolism.

 

 

 

Improves Cellular Activities

Source: indiamart.com
Source: indiamart.com

Since the body is not concerned with digestion until Iftar, it diverts its attention towards other activities such as cellular repair, the immune system and healing injuries. Studies have confirmed that fasting results in a stronger immune system as well as cellular repair and recycling, as the body adjusts with the reduced nutrients and makes the most out of its resources.

 

Managing Nutrition during Suhoor

Suhoor is the meal Muslims eat before fasting, which ends with the call of Fajr prayers. Since it is the only source of nutrition which will pull you through fasting, it is imperative that it is enriched with nutrients and is comprised of balanced dietary intake.

1. Consume Fiber

Source: medicalnewstoday.com
Source: medicalnewstoday.com

Fiber remains undigested during digestion and holds zero nutritional value. However, it prolongs digestion, allowing the enzymes in the stomach to properly break down complex carbohydrates and proteins into simpler sugars and amino acids, which are readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Moreover, the slowed digestion and peristalsis movement keeps you feeling filler for a longer time and allows the intestine to effectively absorb nutrients.

Foods rich in Fiber: Wholegrain cereals e.g. oatmeal, barley, quinoa, etc., wholegrain/brown bread, green and leafy vegetables, lentils, peas and black beans.

 

2. Consume Meats for Protein

Source: sanjeevkapoor.com/
Source: sanjeevkapoor.com/

A simple way to calculate your minimum protein intake is to measure your weight in kilograms and half it. The resulting number shows the grams of proteins your body requires for maintaining its basic functions. This calls for special care during Suhoor, since the meal itself needs to incorporate a rich protein intake to last throughout the day. This supplies your body with much needed proteins for energy (17 kJ/g or 4 kcal/g) as well as nutrients for synthesis and repair of bodily cells.

Foods rich in Proteins: Primary sources of meat e.g. beef, chicken, fish, etc., lentils, red beans, eggs, milk, cheese and tofu.

 

3. Stay Hydrated

Source: Source: sanjeevkapoor.com
Source: Source: sanjeevkapoor.com

Never skip out on your water intake during Suhoor, as your body is comprised of 70 percent water and it is critical for maintaining healthy bodily functions. Skip diuretics such as caffeine from your diet since they reduce water content from body by redirecting it out through urine. Eating vegetables and fruits rich in water ensures the body remains stocked with water for a longer time.

Foods rich in Water: Yoghurt, milkshakes, watermelon, strawberries, oranges, pineapples, cucumber, tomato, celery, iceberg lettuce and broccoli.

 

4. Eat Complex Carbohydrates

Source: dietsensor.com
Source: dietsensor.com

Simple, processed sources of carbohydrates such as pasta, sweets and packaged food are neither nutritionally balanced nor suited for fasting. They are readily digested and metabolized, leaving the body wanting more. Opt for complex sources of carbohydrates as they require more time for digestion and are richer in nutrition.

Foods rich in Complex Carbohydrates: Oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, wholegrain breads, sweet potatoes and yams.

 

Breaking Fast with a Smart, Healthy Iftari

The call for Maghrib prayers marks Iftari, which permits Muslims to break their fast. Instead of rewarding yourself with your favorite foods and breaking your diet, opt for smart choices with the following tips:

 

1. Breaking Fast with Dates

Source: hindustantimes.com
Source: hindustantimes.com

Amongst the Sunnah of Holy Prophet is to open fast with dates, which is followed dutifully by Muslims around the world. Rich in sugars and essential minerals, dates are the perfect food to open fast.

 

 

2. Don’t Confuse Hunger with Thirst

Source: goqii.com
Source: goqii.com

Many people tend to confuse their body’s call for hydration with hunger, which leads to overeating and lack of water in diet. This causes excessive calories to flood the body which are more than what it can handle, which are ultimately stored as fat deposits, increasing obesity instead of curbing it. Choose foods with high water content and drink plenty of water to ensure your body restores its water reserves.

 

3. Avoid Oily Food

Source: tns.world
Source: tns.world

Iftar brings a large variety of deep fried food, which are high in cholesterol and add to the body’s fat deposits. Such foods sate the diet early, leave a heavy feeling and take a lot of time to digest, which results in poor nutritional intake, dehydration and constipation. Consume in moderation to avoid any inconveniences and enjoy your Iftar to the fullest.

Foods to Avoid: Fried dumplings, french fries, samosas, oily curries, fried pastries and deep fried sweets.

 

4. Don’t Skip the Vegetables

Source: youtube.com/watch?v=k8N5o7hdGkY
Source: youtube.com/watch?v=k8N5o7hdGkY

Vegetables contain essential minerals and salts while being low in calories and pack a decent amount of protein. This makes them a very suitable choice for replenishing lost minerals and salts during fasting.

Vegetables to Consume: Carrots, peas, onions, potatoes, cucumbers, kidney beans, red beans, black beans, cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes.

 

5. Cover Your Protein Intake

Source: kfoods.com
Source: kfoods.com

The body requires protein for synthesizing and repairing cells and conducting many other metabolic activities. Never skip out on your protein intake at Iftar to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and active during all the fasts of the blessed month of Ramadan.

Foods rich in Proteins: Primary sources of meat e.g. beef, chicken, fish, etc., lentils, red beans, eggs, milk, cheese and tofu.

 

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Mirza Mussawer Mirza Mussawer is a software engineer and blogging enthusiast with special interest in Tib-e-Nabvi. Islam has an embellished history in medical sciences with its core belief in healing of both spirit and body. By following Tib-e-Nabvi, one can follow the ways of The Holy Prophet (SAW) and achieve complete healing and restoration without any side effects.