I am very proud of our clients working out while fasting. One common experience they all had was “I can work out much better right now, what’s going on?”
All the hype around metabolism dropping down is complete BS. Your metabolism does not drop down while fasting. It is NOT engaging in “resistance training” that drops metabolism. Also you are already having one giant meal (dinner), one moderate meal (sehari) and one small to medium meal (iftar). I don’t see any reason why your metabolism should drop. In fact, from my observations in Pakistan and two other Muslim countries people’s ‘caloric’ intake during Ramadan rather increases. People generally eat more in Ramadan panicking they might starve
However, you can benefit from fasting in Ramadan by doing a few sensible things while working out.
- XHydration: People who know me or train at my gym already know that I am a big fan of lower frequency meals and intermittent fasting. But in Ramadan you can’t even have water. This still shouldn’t be an issue if you hydrate yourself in the hours you are allowed to eat or drink. You should also make sure that you take a multi-mineral/vitamin tablet. I have been taking at least half of liter of water every night before I go to sleep for the past 4 years.
- XHave a Sehari that is full of proteins, good fats (nuts) and vegies. You would be better off if you avoid having too much carbohydrates (sugars, wheat products and other grains) since they will make you feel very hungry in a few hours (insulin level dropping and therefore hunger setting in).
- XSome of my clients don’t like to or don’t get to wake up for Sehari. This should not pose an issue as long as you get enough calories from Iftar time to bed time. You should just make sure you drink enough water. Also make sure you don’t pig out on rice and Jelbi (sorry if spelling not correct) and get enough nutrient dense foods otherwise in two weeks you are going to look like raisin
- XTry and see which meal you can eat more – Iftar or dinner. Try to get enough calories or you will feel drained during the day. Don’t mistaken hunger with having low energy. Often you just think you are tired or low because you haven’t had a meal but that doesn’t mean you don’t have energy. You do. Once Glycogen is fed into the muscles your body won’t get it back from the muscles. Blood Glycogen and Liver Glycogen come first. You haven’t gone hungry for days so you do have enough energy to work out. It’s all in your mind.
- XMake sure you continue your exercise regime or start a resistance training routine or you will go into catabolism (muscle loss) and so your metabolism will drop. That’s not good news if you want to keep strong and lean. If you don’t have enough muscle you are a Suzuki running on gas. You want your body to be a hummer in red zone RPM with brakes on – you will burn whatever you eat. (I am not sure if people got the idea of metabolism dropping from not having a meal every 3 hours from this car theory but for whatever reason if you tell that to a second grader or to your grandfather he is going to laugh at you).
- XDon’t go all the way and crash diet. Get variety in your diet during Ramadan.
- XThe best time to get your work out is right before you want to break your fast. If you do it early in the morning you might feel really dehydrated by late afternoon. You will also be very lethargic to work out after Iftar. I have some clients come 15 minutes before Iftar and break fast in gym one or two sets into the workout with water or a fruit shake (sometimes with a high quality whey protein).
- XIt’s best to get in your carbs at night. Eating late at night doesn’t have to do too much to do with bad health. In fact it will help you sleep better and wake up more alert provided you are not exploding with food and diet coke. It can even lean you up if you don’t eat during the day. Skip your jam and toast Sehari with organic honey and warm water and keep eating for night after you are done with your day. Note, I said “eating at night” didn’t say “eating 1 minute before going to sleep”. It’s good if you have at least an hour gap between your last meal and sleep.
- XYou don’t have to be grazing from the iftar time to bed time. Still keep meal frequency low.
- XTry to sleep in after you have had your Sehari especially if you sleep late at night. Minimum of 8 hours I recommend. Also to refresh your adrenals try to over sleep in once in a while. Like I said if you think you can handle it without Sehari, go for it.
- XTake horizontal naps in the day if you feel your adrenals are in overdrive. You can’t have coke or fags this time.
- XTry to enjoy the junk food that comes with Ramadan but do some good to yourself. Just have the ones that are not full of crap oil and sugar. Go expensive when it comes into putting things into your body.
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Ramadan is a great opportunity to shed off some fat and look better. It will also bring you closer to the realization of “why you should eat, what you should eat, when you should eat and how often you should eat”. But it can also be a great disaster. You can feel horrible and put a lot of weight on if you don’t eat the right foods in the right amount.
For people who don’t know me. I have been on one meal a day for the past two month. I might sometimes have two meals though depending on how hard my work routine and exercise routine is. I do skip my breakfast and I do eat late night. I work out 5 times a week and do Kickboxing on Saturdays at 5.
My closest prediction is you will get a promotion at work and your spouse will give you compliments starting in one week. If you are doing these things, aren’t eating way too much more but aren’t dropping size then something has got to be wrong. You probably have the supernatural ability to create calories out of thin air. Remember the law of thermodynamics? Bummer.
By the way, if you are interested in research and references go to my article on intermittent fasting here: Intermittent Fasting For Fat-Loss and General Health