The truth about maintaining your fitness in Ramadan.
Drink water slow
Breaking your fast with water is an essential, and most of us drink water first. However, i have found it best to drink water slowly, and more often throughout the night. What i mean by that is not to drink 2-3 cups of water all at once when you feel “thirsty”, but to drink water less at once and gradually. This will allow you to drink water more often throughout the night. Aiming for 2 liters minimum (7 abraaj bottles 330ml) would work well for these days (may vary due to the exercise intensity you perform: adding electrolytes may help).
Eat greens then protein then carbs
We all know that its a culture norm to eat a big meal for futoor, yet we know scientifically its wrong but what else can we do! The best thing we can take into consideration when doing that is the food order. Start by having vegetables first, it doesn't have to be a salad. It can be vegetable soup or steamed vegetables or in any other forms. I personally just eat steamed vegetables (even tho they taste bad) to then enjoy the pleasure of the rest of the food! Why torture yourself? It’s because eating the fibers in vegetables first will help coat your intestine before eating anything else. This coat will reduce your glucose spike thats about to come, because most likely what you’re about to eat for futoor will spike your glucose level really high and cause you to feel fatigued and sleepy after futoor. This for sure will effect your training performance and effect your ability to even make it to training!
When to workout?
The timing of your workout is a really important factor. Know which timing works best for you mentally not just physically is the key to fitness maintenance. Training before futoor is an option, but shouldn’t be more than 3 hours before breaking your fast. It can be moderate to easy, and in this time your body will use your stored glucose and energy that you have stored before, like your dinner last night. If you’re not a dinner/ suhoor person, this option wont serve you well scientifically. Training fasted should be as close to futoor time as possible because protein intake is necessary in the 2 hour
margin post training. You also have to make sure you eat enough to make up for the stored energy you used from your body. Taking enough protein will help you maintain your muscle mass and fitness as much as your body can (increased muscle mass > increased metabolic rate > increased fat burning). Training post futoor is easier as you can eat before and after, just don't forget the importance of protein intake both pre and post training.
I personally stick to these factors and eat whatever i crave in the right time! Eating what your body needs first, then what you’re craving is a rule i always follow in ramadan. I also found training both pre and post futoor easy, and i would train in both timings most days: swimming or strength pre futoor, and run or bike would be post futoor. I chose to do bike and run after futoor because I came into a conclusion that my heart rate increases drastically when I'm fasting, which will effect on my training zones when trying to go easy. Thats what you should take into consideration and learn about your body by experimenting different things.
Most importantly is to plan out everything a day prior to take into consideration the nutrients you would need, and try to replenish your body as much as possible!