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Mon, April 19, 2021 | Fitness Lifestyle & Happiness

Training & Nutrition during Ramadan

Ramadan is a Muslim festival whereby followers abstain from consuming any food/ drink and other stimulants during daylight hours for a full calendar month, this is usually during the summer months when daylight reaches its heights.

Due to the lack of fuel and energy in the body during the fasting period of the day, training can become a challenge, to say the least, but with careful planning and the right alterations, you can ensure your progress is not lost. 

However, without efficient guidance, knowledge, and the proper stimulus of training or carefully planned food intake, it could be quite detrimental to not only your metabolism but, in turn, your results over a short space of time too. 

We hope to give you some insight into how our coaches would navigate and coach their clients through a period such as Ramadan. 

Fasted Training

Training in a fasted state is a personal preference generally, often people state that they prefer to train on an empty stomach and as the body is fantastic at storing energy, heading to the gym without grabbing a banana or protein shake shouldn’t make a difference to your session. But, when it comes to fasting during daylight hours, you would want to bulk the majority of your calories around your session.

The optimal times to train would be around food so either first thing in the morning when you will have fed and slept or after your first meal in the evening, this, of course, is dependent on any restrictions on what time of day you can train and whether your gym is open 24hrs or not.

Breaking your Fast

If you are planning to train late in the evening once you have eaten, we suggest that you keep your pre-training meal light and look for a more substantial meal post-workout. 

Hydration is also important, we recommend adding in things like coconut water which has a strong natural mineral content upon breaking your fast. You can of course supplement with electrolytes.

Making use of the post-workout window will be important, consuming an easily digestible protein source like our SF Nutrition Lean Whey will be easy on the stomach and ensure you replenish the nutrients used during exercise and work against muscle protein breakdown. 

The meal that follows should then contain a mixture of lean protein, carbohydrates and fats. This should be quite a substantial meal so you might want to consider including digestive aids like apple cider vinegar, pineapple or supplements like digestive enzymes.

Training Considerations

High volumes of work during this time will lead to depleted stores of energy that will quickly become too difficult to replenish in the short window of opportunity to nourish yourself. 

Training styles like HIIT and Intense Interval training will require stored carbohydrates so doing these after a full day of fasting without eating first could be detrimental to your current muscle mass. Your body can break down muscle protein to provide glucose for energy. Save these types of workouts for days when you can eat first.

When resistance training opting for lower rep protocols of 3-6, with shorter session time in the gym (45-50 minutes) and utilising compound movements to maximise the amount of muscle used in a shorter time frame. 

We recommend using a cycle of 1 day on 1 off or, 2 on 1 off if you are a more advanced lifter.

If you are partaking in a cardiovascular style workout, keeping the intensity lower and focusing on the aerobic system is a great option as it will be low stress and utilise more stored fuel in the form of fatty acids. 

Sleep 

Your recovery could take a hit due to the impact on your sleep, and potentially not getting in as much energy due to the reduced feeding window, so expect to be a little more sore than usual.

Sleep is going to be very important for you during this time, so setting up the correct environment for optimal hours is vital. 

  • Make sure your room is cool and dark, 
  • Try 10 minutes of stretching and/or meditation before getting into bed (check out the breathing and yoga on-demand sessions on the Starks Online App)
  • Reduce screen time before bed; if that’s not possible, switch your devices to night mode.
  • Keep any tasks low stress and easy on the brain.

Sleeping on a full stomach

With the balance of getting to sleep without being uncomfortably full and wanting to get an adequate amount of nutrients in, you will also want to consume foods that do not cause any bloating or discomfort so a good night’s sleep is achieved.

Switching up certain foods or preparing them in different ways might help.

  • Blending up oats or powdered rice with protein powder can be a quick source of fuel before you train. (SF Nutrition Lean Whey blends and mixes really well due to its high-quality ingredients)
  • Nuts or nut butter which are high in calories for such a small volume of food can be a helpful snack.
  • Ensure you are consuming foods dense in nutrients, so whole foods such as rice, vegetables, lean cuts of meat and fish.

Guided breathing is also a great practice to ensure your body is in a parasympathetic state, ready to digest and absorb nutrients.

Try following this protocol for 3:00-5:00 minutes before meals. 

  • Sit in a quiet, comfortable place
  • Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, feeling your tummy rise and ribs expand.
  • Breathe out through your nose for 6 seconds, feeling your tummy fall and ribs contract. 
  • Repeat the above sequence, bringing your thoughts and attention to the breath only.

Listen to your body

Although we have provided you with all of the above protocols that could put you in a more favourable position, the most important piece of information we can give is to listen to your body. 

It will give you feedback as to when you need to take a rest day or when it feels you can push harder. There is no shame in taking the intensity down or skipping a workout in favour of getting some more quality sleep.

For all the latest education from the team at Starks Fitness head over to the app store and download the Starks online app to continue the learning and training.

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