A lot of people have asked me how and when they should train during Ramadan. If you’ve opened this post, I would assume you know what Ramadan is! If not, Ramadan is a holy month in the Islamic religion. It’s known to be a time of spiritual-reflection and self-reflection. During the month, Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn (when the sun rises) until sunset.
This is my recommendation on when and how to train during Ramadan, including :
- When to train
- When not to train
- Why you should hydrate before training
- Ideal pre-workout snacks
When should you NOT workout?
Number One! I really recommend against any workout after Suhoor, as you will not be able to hydrate or replenish hydration and hunger levels after your workout. It’s ideal to workout just before Iftar (although I would only recommend this if you need to be with your family at a set time for the Iftar meal, as ideally you should eat and drink something before working out after a day of fasting). Or you can workout just after the call to prayer for Iftar.
At the end of your fast, you most probably feel two overriding things: thirst, and hunger. These are what you need to address to workout in a safe and healthy way.
Why is it important to hydrate before exercise?
Even slight dehydration can have a detrimental effect to your health and your workout, and this will not help you workout in a healthy way during Ramadan.
ATP, adenosine triphosphate, is the energy molecule that effectively allows cells in our body to operate. In order to release energy for metabolic processes, ATP needs to be broken down in the cell. Guess what facilitates this break down reaction of the ATP molecule? Water!
No hydration, headaches, dizziness and no energy. It doesn’t sound great does it? So please make sure to hydrate your body before you tackle any kind of workout.
With this in mind, at Iftar time you can go for water and a small snack straight away. You need to hydrate your body, and boost your probably low energy levels after the day of fasting. If you drink coffee, now can be a good time to drink your “morning” cup of coffee after water; the caffeine will help to wake up up and hopefully give you some motivation to workout.
So what should you eat as your small snack?
A small snack is something that will be digested quickly, and help to give you a boost of energy soon after eating it. I would really not recommend eating a huge meal immediately, and then training. If you do this, you’re likely to throw up and your energy levels will actually be lower due to the energy your body requires to digest the meal.
Let’s take a look at my top two snack ideas before a workout:
I actually just made these for some of my friends to eat at Iftar time before their workouts. They include dates which provide natural sugars to energise you, as well as walnuts and coconut for healthy fats to settle your stomach after fasting. They are filling and sweet!
These power balls are also refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, paleo and keto. I mean how much healthier can it get?
After fasting, your body is pretty depleted of food and energy stores. A smoothie is a great way to quickly get in energy-boosting ingredients and a bunch of super foods to promote great health, skin, hair and wellbeing. This morning smoothie is icy and cold (perfect for our hot Egyptian climate!) and hydrating, which is exactly what you need before a workout.
My recipe also includes some superfood powders that I like to incorporate into my diet regularly: pea protein, Maca powder and Green Super blend powder – these are totally optional.
They are easy to Customise
Both of these recipes are very adaptable, you can easily create your own power balls with different nuts, or added dried fruits. If you’d like to add some more carbohydrates to your snack, oats are a great addition to the brownie bites.
For smoothies, pretty much anything works blended up. As long as it has a base of frozen banana, and of course a good handful of fresh greens!
Around 30 minutes to one hour after your snack and drinks, you should be feeling ready to workout! Once your workout is complete, you can go ahead with your proper Iftar meal.
Remember, during this month it’s not essential to exert yourself to your maximum when exercising, you have other focuses and priorities during Ramadan. While it is a great practice to keep yourself healthy and include exercise in your fasting days, please don’t feel guilty if you walk instead of run, and if you do low intensity modifications rather than high intensity workouts.
Have a wonderful Ramadan, to those fasting and those who are not.