Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and a time when Muslims (1.57 billion people in the world and a fair number of bodybuilders and workout enthusiasts amongst them) will fast during the hours of daylight. Ramadan is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam.
The pattern and timetable of eating, drinking and sleeping change in addition to alterations in the food composition during Ramadan. If you’ve spent time and effort building muscle, you don’t want your gains to wilt. So what can you do during the fasting periods to ensure you keep your energy and protein levels high?
Here are our recommendations for a healthy 2015 Ramadan.
What to eat during Ramadan
a) Adjust evening food choices to match your appetite and aim for more calorie-dense foods such as rice. Eat chicken for protein whilst a protein shake is another option to consider. Begin your Suhoor with lean protein and fibrous vegetables to curb appetite before moving onto the direct carbohydrate sources.
b) Get sufficient protein: Eat your protein first, aiming for 2g/kg bodyweight daily, followed by carbs, then fat, to satiety.
c) Protein goal, calorie goal: Don’t aim for specific macros during the month – hit a protein goal (2g/kg) and calorie goal (maintenance) made up from any combination of carbs and fats.
d) Supplement with our multivitamin during the day with a protein shake to cover your bases. Don’t be afraid to rely on whey to hit protein targets. Our multivitamin options are SPORTS MUTLI AM:PM™, Complete Multivitamin™ Powder and Complete Multivitamin™ Complex tablets.
Don’t deliberately aim for a calorie deficit
If calories are too low, you’ll be drained of energy and recovery will falter when training. The only fitness goal you should realistically aim to pursue is maintenance during this month. You will find that you lose fat naturally from the fast, provided that your calories are sensible, but this is not the time to try to force it. Remember, portions can be misleading when eating a day’s worth of food over a short period.
Stay hydrated at night
Aim for at least 2.5 litres of water a day. Try to spread this out throughout the evening. Have some of our Complete Hydration Drink™ ready too.
Train at night and be realistic
Forget five training session per week. Train a maximum of 2-3 times a week with a low volume strategy in mind. Avoid deadlifts during the month, as it is the movement that carries the highest risk when dehydrated.
Even though you may not make gains in muscle mass during Ramadan, you can at least preserve what you have if you keep your schedule up.
If you normally follow the rule of having several small doses of protein over the day, you of course can’t do that during Ramadan.
Iftar will generally give you the best source of carbohydrates and protein with plenty of milk and dates or figs.
Suhoor should be taken as close to possible to sunrise and should take into account the day’s activities. We advise you to eat plenty of porridge oats.
Finally, don’t forget that Ramadan is more difficult to follow in spring/summer than winter because during summer daylight lasts much longer, you will have less time to eat and drink and also get less sleep.