Fast & Fit: Ramadan 2019
Hari Raya is coming soon! Everyone is super excited, especially for those who are far away from hometown as it is the time to ‘Balik Kampung’ and gather together with family and friends. A lot of delicious ‘Raya’ food to be enjoyed and ‘Duit Raya’ to be collected by children during the celebration of Hari Raya.
But before that, Muslim will have to fast for one month during Ramadan. Ramadan falls at the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and Muslims are obligated to fast from dawn (Suhur) to sunset (Iftar) for 29 or 30 days. And a few hours before the time to break the fast, the Bazaar Ramadan is always full of people where Muslims buy their foods from the many stalls to break the fast. Countless of food choice is available in the Bazaar Ramadan; however, choosing wisely and eating right shall keep you healthy throughout Ramadan and Hari Raya.
Some of the tips for taking note during Ramadan:
- Aim for the date – Dates, known as ‘Kurma’ by Muslim, are always the favourite food during Ramadhan. Why? Besides being a religious tradition of Muslims, the date is the best choice to break the fast as it can supply immediate source of energy by restoring the sugar level in the body after fasting for a day. Dates are also rich in nutrients including fiber that help to prevent constipation, a common issue faced during fasting days.
- Be a water-lovers –Drinking is not allowed during fasting. Therefore, Muslims are encouraged to drink 8 to 12 glasses of water between Iftar and Suhur every day to keep them from dehydration. Lukewarm water would be better than cold water and try to avoid foods that rich in spices and high salt content as it will increase the body’s need for water. Also, one should avoid caffeinated drinks such as carbonated drinks, coffee, and tea, as it will increase fluid loss through urination and cause thirst. During the day, avoid overexposure to sunlight as excessive sweating will increase the risk of dehydration. Be caution of signs and symptoms of dehydration such as headache, dry skin, dizziness, tiredness, and increased thirst.
- Cut down salty, oily, and high-sugar foods – Reduce salty foods, processed foods, and fast foods during Ramadan as these tend to increase thirst. Deep-fried foods are tempting and delicious but choosing healthier food choice such as steam, or baked foods can reduce intake of trans fat that formed during deep-fried in oil under high temperature. Also, oily foods should be taken moderately after long-hour fasting to prevent indigestion. You should reduce high-sugar foods and drinks as it is rich in calories and can contribute to weight gain.
- Diet must balance – Don’t forget to include more vegetable and fruits into your diet. Our body needs fibers to keep the normal gut movement. Taking salad is a great choice, and the more colorful your salad is, the more various nutrients you can get. Taking some dried fruits such as dried raisin and prunes can also help add up fiber and nutrient.
- Exercise and work out – Low energy state and tiredness often experienced during fasting, but these shouldn’t be the reason for you to skip your exercise routine. Instead, certain people take this opportunity to lose extra weight with healthy diet and exercise plan. Moderate exercise done before or 2-3 hours after Iftar not just keep you refresh, but also help to maintain your body weight and performance. Studies have shown that continuously fasting for so many days can reduce body performance in various way1. Therefore, exercise during Ramadan helps to maintain your body fitness.
- Fit your sleeping schedule – During Ramadan, Muslims need to wake up earlier in the dawn to have their breakfast, which changes their daily sleeping schedule. One may try to adapt themselves a few days before Ramadan, by going to bed earlier than usual. Plan a sleeping schedule that fits you the best, as getting enough sleep help restore your body energy level.
- Get supplements to replenish daily need – Complete your daily requirement with a supplement such as spirulina during the fasting month is a smart choice. Spirulina is a blue-green microalgae containing an excellent source of protein, vitamins, mineral, and antioxidant2. Intake of spirulina during fasting can help to provide a wide range of vital nutrients to the body. Spirulina contains a significant amount of protein which helps in providing energy throughout the day. It is also beneficial to regulate weight by reducing appetite, preventing weight gain during ramadan3.
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Some of the tips for taking note during Ramadan:
- Javad, F. S, 2010. Ramadan Fasting and Exercise Performance. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 1 (3), 130
- Khan, Z., Bhadouria, P., and Bisen, P.S., 2005. Nutritional and Therapeutic Potential of Spirulina. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 6:373-379
- Zeinalian, R., Farhangi, M.A., Shariat, A., and Saghafi-Asl, M., 2017. The effects of Spirulina Platensis on anthropometric indices, appetite, lipid profile and serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in obese individuals: a randomized double blinded placebo controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med., 17: 225