6 ways to optimize training and nutrition while observing Ramadan

It is that special time of the year again for my muslim friends who observe one month of fasting in an ancient practice called Ramadan! This is where participants fast from sunrise to sunset for and the fast involves abstaining from any food or liquids, including water, gum, and supplements. Of course, there are exceptions, such as those who are pregnant or ill, but I am NOT an expert on this. In fact, I am open to learning so much more about this beautiful spiritual practice!

Anywhooo, what I can offer is some training and nutrition advice if you still want to make performance and health gains during Ramadan.
*Disclaimer: always consult a doctor if you plan on exercising while fasting.

1. Try to move training to earlier in the day just before the fast commences for the day or later in the evening just before breaking your fast at night. This way you can cluster some easily digestible carbs in the the pre-fast or break-fast meal. This type of carbohydrate is excellent for fuelling performance or supporting recovery - it refills your liver and muscle glycogen. E.g. white rice, potatoes, plantains, chestnuts, root vegetables. Avoid midday training if your schedule allows, especially in the first couple of weeks as you adjust to your new eating schedule.

2. The meal that you have far away from training should be high in unprocessed fats. E.g. nuts & seeds, coconut products, pasture raised eggs, olive oil and whole olives. Fats are a slow-burning fuel that can keep you fuller for longer. They are also very dense in energy so you don’t have to stuff yourself to the gills with the small eating window that you have. I.e. If you workout in the morning, keep your evening meals high fat.

3. For training, I think it is a great time to practice mindfulness with how your body feels each day. Some days you may feel hungrier or weaker than others, perhaps these won’t be the best days to shoot for a PR and this is totally normal! Energy fluctuations will happen day-to-day even without the additional stress of fasting.

4. Don’t skimp on the protein!! Aiming for 1g/lb bodyweight is a general rule that applies to most people working out for health and wellness.

5. Avoid processed foods. It's easy to get calories with a DQ blizzard especially when you are hungry from fasting all day but you'd be missing out on all the minerals and vitamins that you need to train hard. Huge disservice to your hard work in the gym.

6. Lastly, I think it is valuable to add in some sort of digestive enzyme or digestive aid if you have trouble breaking down the energy-dense meals you are consuming. If slow digestion is keeping you up at night or affecting your appetite, it will eventually impact your training in some way.

Of course, I could go on and on and onnnnn, but let’s keep it brief for the millennials. Also, all of these tips are subject to vary from person to person so I encourage you to form your own opinions on if they apply to you! If anyone has any specific questions along the way, shoot me an email over at hello@kerenchen.ca

Happy fasting, cuties!

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