I receive a lot of questions in my email asking me how to use Christian fasting for Weight Loss and since Ramadan is upon the Muslims, I will be sharing some secrets on how to use Ramadan for Weight Loss and any kind of spiritual fast for weight loss. So Christians take some notes as well and apply.
Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to lose some weight, although it can be a tough time to keep to a diet plan whether it is weight loss or muscle building but it CAN be done. For those of you who don’t know what’s involved with Ramadan, Ramadan is a month long dawn to dusk fast observed as part of the Muslim religion. This year it started on 20th July and finishes on the 18th of August.
During the daylight you do not drink any liquid (not even water) and you don’t eat any food. The origins of Ramadan are for increased spirituality and as a time to practice self restraint. Some Christians have a similar tradition with Lent where they are encouraged to give up something for 6 weeks.
When you do any form of prolonged fast, you are already resetting your metabolism by the protracted, long overnight fast, as well as the daily fasting. Your metabolism resets and your body begins to change the way it does things.
Weight loss during the first few days is just dehydration. It may be exciting to see that you lost 2-3 pounds in the first day or two, but that’s all water loss and dehydration. No human can lose 2 pounds of fat overnight. It’s just water. But it’s still exciting!
So how can we maximize weight loss during Ramadan?
The most important factor is to avoid gorging or “binge eating” at night. We have found that gorging once a day is the fastest way to gain weight. Your body thinks it’s in a state of famine, and will store everything you eat as fat, because it is worried about food supply. Further, eating once a day scares your body and your body starts to shut down and slow down your metabolism. You don’t want to slow down your metabolism or you will gain weight. I already explained all these in detail here.
As an exercise, restricting yourself from not eating for a period of time is a good one to go through, whether you are Muslim or not, it can help give you confidence that you can cope with hunger and stick to a plan and not give into any cravings you may have. If you are a Muslim and can go without food and drink for this length of time then you should have added confidence that you can stick to any diet plan at any time of the year.
Weight Loss During Ramadan
On the face of it being on a fast you have a real opportunity to lose weight and get ripped if you really want to. However depending on your background and family situation you might be confronted with a lot of treat-like foods when you break your fast. You need to have a mental and physical strategy of how you are going to deal with this, otherwise you could end up in trouble overeating.
The obvious thought process is that ‘I’ve been good all day I’ve stuck to the fast, I can eat whatever I want can’t I?’ Not really, you still need to keep an eye on how many carbs you consume if you want to lose weight. So let’s assume you have free will over what you eat, and your auntie is not going to force feed you samosas and the likes.
What ideally are you going to eat and drink?
1. Drink Water First
As soon as you break your fast, concentrate on getting rehydrated first by drinking water. You are going to be thirstier than you are hungry and hunger often disguises itself as thirst. By rehydrating first you are helping to prevent yourself from overeating. Don’t drink water just by itself, it’s quite hard to try and drink a lot of plain water no matter how thirsty you are. As a minimum you can squeeze some lemon or lime you’re your water to give some flavor, helps you rehydrate and also helps you drink more.
2. Another option to rehydrate is to have a whey protein shake
Don’t add any extra carbs like fruit or the extras as you may end up feeling full as a result of the shake, just mix whey with water. This will help you get protein into your muscle cells as well as help with hydration.
4 Tips on Foods to eat to break your Ramadan Fast
Tip 1: Once you have rehydrated then its time to think food. Traditionally there may be a lot of ram to eat during Ramadan. Lamb or ram can be quite a fatty meat so if you are going to have this then make sure what you have with it does not have too much additional fat. If possible, the best options are to have chicken and fish. Eat it with the low carb vegetables like cabbage, ugwu, green/spinach, lettuce etc as are recommended in The 4-Week Detox Diet
Other foods you can eat include oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, brown rice, “moi-moi”, “akara”, chicken, beef, “suya”, eggs, milk, “ewedu”, “efo”, “tuwo”, “masa”, dried seeds and nut like dates. Vegetables and fruits like oranges, watermelon, banana, pine-apple, apples, celery, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, spinach etc. In the Salad Cookbook of my 101 Flat Belly and Fat Loss Nigerian Cooking 12-set Cookbooks, you would find over 15 different fat-burning delicious salad recipes you can enjoy during Ramadan.
Tip 2: Now that I’ve talked about what to eat, if you really want to lose weight during this season then you must limit the intake of sweets, fried and fatty foods such as bread and baked goods.
Tip 3: You can eat a slightly larger meal but you don’t really need to. You may think ‘I need to overeat to help me get through the whole day without eating’. If you want to lose weight then what is the point of that? The truth is you should want to utilise your excess fat stores to fuel yourself through the day during the fast instead, so no need to overeat.
Tip 4: If you overeat too much at night you could end up creating more fat than you then burn off during the rest of the day to get back to the same starting point when the fast is over. You are going to need to overeat to some degree but just make sure the extra consumption comes from more protein like fish, chicken, eggs etc.
What to eat before daybreak
You have a second feeding opportunity before your daily fast starts. Again it is important to hydrate yourself fully as you are going to be going all day without a drink so I would make sure that you have a whey protein drink, this kills 2 birds with one stone as you get hydration as well as nutrition. You could also drink lots of water with lemon or lime.
A good option for food is to eat is chicken and spinach omelette (Check the The 4-Week Detox Diet for that), you could make this the evening before and have it ready to eat when you wake up. Eggs are a good option to have as they help keep you feeling fuller for longer. For your meal, drink plenty of water, start with soup and salad, Even a few nuts and an apple is fine. Or you could eat a banana and dark chocolate.
Exercise and training for fat loss during Ramadan
Ah, did you think I would leave this out? *wink, *wink* If you plan to use the Ramadan fasting season as an opportunity to burn off some unwanted fat from your body, then you would have to do some sort of exercising. Just keep it light.
As you will already be de-hydrated by not drinking since when you first woke up, this could affect you especially if you exercise too hard you are likely to become more dehydrated which could result in dizziness and light headedness and lead to passing out. Be sensible and listen to your body and stop at the first signs of any different sensations.
2 ways to exercise for weight loss during any type of Spiritual Fasting
1. Train before you break your fast in the evening
2. Break your fast, drink and eat and then train.
If you are going to train before you break your fast in the evening then let it coincide close to the time you break your fast. So if the fast ends at 6pm then train between 5-6pm. It’s more beneficial to exercise closer to breaking your fast rather than at lunch time because you are then able to get food into your system much quicker after training to start the recovery process and you will be dehydrated for a shorter period of time during the day.
Have a snooze after work
Another good strategy is to have an early evening sleep from when you get home from work until you are ready to exercise. This will help you produce more growth hormone which will aid both fat loss and muscle gain, it will also help take your mind off not being able to eat.
When it comes to exercising for fat loss start with more gentle forms of training like treadmill, bike, rowing machine rather than high intensity intervals, to begin with at least, if you find you can handle the higher intensity then by all means do it but just be careful you don’t dehydrate too much.
When it comes to losing weight if you manage yourself properly particularly eating well then you could get really lose weight during Ramadan or any kind of fastng.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, then use the comments form below to discuss.
Go on! Lose Weight!
Dr. Ela Maris
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