Ramadan is arguably the holiest month of the year for Muslims and is soon approaching. Training in Ramadan is not easy as it takes a toll on our body, therefore it is easy to lose muscle mass. We will look at some common mistakes and see some tips that can ensure that you can maintain and even gain muscle mass in Ramadan.
Fasting without Sehar:
A lot people attempt this foolish method, in the hope that it can spark their weight loss journey. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, in Ramadan, A healthy Sehar is by far the most important meal of the day. This is the meal that is going to fuel you for the rest of the day. Not eating it is a horrible ploy as your body, in need of energy, will break down muscle for energy purposes. Yes, it may break down fat as well, but the fact is that there many ways to lose fat, and very few ways to gain muscle (something which is a lot harder and takes longer). Fasting without Sehar also means you tend to overeat at Iftar time, meaning all that hard work goes to waste.
Eating too much at Iftar:
Ramadan weight gain is a thing! You can understand why people do it too. They’ve been working all day, and now there is a whole range of food available at their mercy. Remember this, the test of discipline does not end at Iftar time! Especially if you are looking to gain or prevent loss in muscle mass, a healthy Iftar is crucial in ensuring you are on the right track. Over eating at Iftar can also result in laziness sometimes, as a lot of energy is then being used up in digesting the massive pile of food you just ate!
Not Eating Healthy:
No matter what time of the year it is, this is simply unacceptable. A lot of people feel it is okay to eat unhealthy during this month because it is difficult to maintain muscle mass or lose weight. This month should be an opportunity! A healthy Sehar and a healthy Iftar will go a long way in reducing body fat percentage and maintaining muscle mass. We will look at what options there are later in this article.
Not planning your meals:
Not planning your meals any time of the year is a bad idea, but it is especially risky in Ramadan. This is because then sometimes you are left with no choice to choose items that are packed with oil, fats, sugar and have a massively negative impact on your body. The temptation is already so high as you have been hungry the whole day, so it is difficult to stay disciplined when you see these greasy foods in front of you. The way to combat this is simply plan your healthy meals in advance and you can control you diet and therefore your fat/carbs intake.
Tips on Maintaining Muscle Mass
It’s important to take in a decent amount of carbs to maintain energy the whole day and so muscle isn’t broken down for energy. Although what you eat will vary slightly based on what your goal is, there are some things that everyone should do. For example, eating whole nutritional unprocessed foods are super important as they are healthy (less sugar and fats compared to processed food) and give us energy for the day. Examples of whole foods for Sehar would be fruit (bananas and oranges) dairy (eggs, fat free yoghurt, cottage cheese) and whole grains (oats, rice, quinoa).
Once again we need to maintain the healthiness, so no fried foods! Remember this is one of the only months where you can get away with eating more carbs than usual, but you still must keep low portions! There should be plenty of protein (chicken, steak) or you can continue to use protein shakes in Ramadan. Take carbs such as rice as well as complex carbs like oats, fruits and vegetables in controlled amounts. Omega 3 fats, e.g fish are an excellent option to get your required fat intake in a healthy manner.
You need to be training in Ramadan because otherwise your body metabolism is likely to drop, along with your muscle mass percentage. If your goal is to maintain muscle mass and lose fat, you should be looking to work out right after Iftar or Sehar, as your body has some energy to use through the carbs you just ate. Make sure to load up on some protein right after the workout, as your muscles will be in severe need of them. Also ensure you do not do a lot of cardio as your body is already low on fluids this month and can’t afford to lose more, so focus on lifting weights.