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Top Diet Tips During Ramadan

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Muslims pray in a mosque during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Tongxin County, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region

Top tips and ideal recipe plan for maintaining your exercise regime during Ramadan from LDN Muscle . . . . By Max Bridger

Pakistani vendors sell dates ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
Pakistani vendors sell dates ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan restricts eating and drinking to only the hours of darkness. These hours of complete fasting being roughly 02:30 – 21:30, dawn till dusk, from June 6th to July 5th. The fasting commences just prior to sunrise, where a light meal is eaten (Suhoor) and finishes at sunset, post-prayer (Adhan).

Here Max Bridger from leading online health and fitness company LDN Muscle shares his top tips on how to consume sufficient macronutrients in these hours to maintain a healthy metabolism and avoid excess muscle catabolism.

  1. Reduce the length and/or intensity of gym sessions during Ramadan. You are consuming less food and water which in turn increases the risk of over-exertion and dehydration
  2. Only work out after a substantial Iftar (fast-breaking) meal – and ensure that you consume around 1.5-2 litres of water prior to physical activity.
  3. As this will be a period of calorie restriction, avoid high volume weight training such as regular employment of supersets and drop sets, and/or very high volume training.
  4. Reduce the amount of cardio work you do and avoid HIIT where possible, opting for longer bouts of cardio at a lower intensity.
  5. Increase pre/post workout meal macros of carbs and fats at each meal by around 20%. at your Suhoor, you consume carbs equivalent to around half that of your pre workout meal (on top of your regular breakfast macros).

Ideal Recipe Plan

21:30 (pre-workout meal):

High protein, high carb, medium fat

Total 0% yoghurt, diced dates, blueberries, teaspoon of peanut butter and manuka honey.

Instant oats, whey and spirulina shake.

  • Ensure you drink at least 1 litre of water with 0.5-1.5g of sea salt with this meal (use 0.5g if your family has a history of heart disease. Continue to sip on regular tap water on the lead up to your session; you will be very dehydrated at Iftar. Some coconut water may also be a good addition to this meal.

22:45 (pre-workout):

Caffeine has a diuretic effect, but if you choose to use it a single or double espresso will work here (also consider effect upon sleep here; you will struggle if having caffeine close to sleeping).

23:00 – 23:45 (intra-workout):

1 scoop of BCAAs powder (we like Sustain from Genetic Supplements) & 30g dextrose (more or less dextrose may be used dependant on your macros – gummy bears or equivalent can also be used here) mixed with around 1 litre of water to sip on in the first half of your workout.

24:00 (post-workout & pre-bed):

High protein, high carb, low fat

1 medium chicken breast, spicy rice, mixed vegetables, chipotle sauce to taste.

Smoothie: Half serving of whey/casein, spinach, kale, frozen berries, water as needed (blend).

Camomile and cinnamon tea, and ZMA.

02:15 (breakfast):

High protein, medium carb, medium-high fat

Rolled oats, unsweetened almond milk, whey/casein, chocolate almond butter, chia seeds, diced strawberries (protein porridge effectively: http://www.ldnmuscle.com/ldnm-protein-porridge/)

(Wholemeal) Toasted slice(s), poached egg(s), spinach.

Litre of water, moderate pinch of good quality sea salt.

Your Suhoor meal can be in addition immediately after this meal. Try to get some vegetables on board here too if possible.

The diet plan above is designed to pack in sufficient protein, carbs, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals that you will be deprived of during the 16 hour fasted period, whilst allowing you to train still- however I would reiterate again to limit the length of your sessions to 30-60 minutes, dependent on how well you manage this period of disturbed eating and sleeping patterns.

Buying food in a market one day ahead of the holy month of Ramadan
Buying food in a market one day ahead of the holy month of Ramadan

Post Ramadan

Depending on your celebration Eid al-Fitar, you may or may not feast at the end of Ramadan. If you do partake in a feast, unless you feel that you need a mentally need that ‘blowout’ meal eating everything you can lay your hands on, we would suggest that you don’t go completely crazy. Have a little self-restraint and eat until you are satiated, rather than unable to move!

In the days following, we would suggest transitioning back to normal eating and sleeping patterns. Keep the meals that aren’t pre or post workout low in carbohydrates for the time being, they can be slowly reintroduced at a rate of 5-10g every other day (if you put on weight quickly, be sure to reintroduce them at a slower rate).

We would also suggest building back to your previous training program and intensity over the course of a week, rather than jumping straight back in to high volume and HIIT training.

To download one of the LDN Muscle guides visit www.ldnmuscle.com

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