How to maintain energy levels and muscle mass in the month of Ramadhan
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Whilst fasting in the month of Ramadhan, the food consumption window is small and so nourishing your body with high quality, nutrient dense foods, and water is of utmost importance.
My nutrition actually goes up a notch during this month as I am so conscious of fuelling my body right so that I have the energy to carry out my day as ‘normal’ and fulfil my spiritual ambitions too.
The worst feeling is to be tired, hungry and headachey! You want to make the most out of this month and not waste it or while it is away.
Why I love this month
Aside from the spiritual & emotional benefits there is a whole host of physical benefits too.
Completing an 18 hour fast actually gives the digestive system a break and there is the added benefit of prayer activating the parasympathetic tone in your body, allowing the body to heal from modern day stressors.
How I maintain my energy levels & muscle mass
Always break my fast with dates + a small handful of nuts to stabilise my blood sugars followed by a few glasses of water. It’s important not to flood the system though.
I then go off to pray and we come back to some hydrating fruits and vegetables to increase hydration and get in vital micronutrients.
Maintaining protein levels is key if you want to retain your muscle mass but this can be tricky in such a small eating window. It is also much more satiating than carbohydrates and so makes me feel full for longer.
I ensure that every meal I have before bed and at suhoor time is packed with protein. Lentil soup as a starter is a great option, some fish or lean meat with veg for dinner/iftar and I always have a side of yeo valley natural yoghurt which has 10g of protein/ 100g.
Snacks include- overnight oats with 0% greek yoghurt, boiled eggs, homemade protein balls, roasted chickpeas (no salt as you don’t want to be left thirsty), cottage cheese + crackers, houmous and veggies, greek yoghurt parfait, home made smoothie with hemp seeds.
Sometimes I might supplement with a clear vegan protein drink giving me a quick 20g of protein too.
Aim for 1.5g of protein/ kg of body weight.
Avoid excessive amounts of sugar and fast carbs. It can be tempting to eat sweet things during this month but excess sugars will make it hard to stabilize your blood sugars during your fasting periods.
Make sure you are getting adequate sleep and rest. Hard I know, but take rest just before iftar time or after work if you can to make up for lost hours at night.
Don’t forget your greens and vegetables! This is important for making sure all the cells in your body are adequately receiving the vital nutrients for maintaining health AND all of your hard-earned muscle! If you’re missing one key vitamin or mineral, it will have a negative cascading effect on your body’s ability to recover and grow muscle.
Training during the month of Ramadhan can be tough and for me the focus is definitely on spiritual, emotional and mental growth.
I also use this time to work on my flexibility and mobility. Something I should definitely do more of but I don’t.
However, if you’re able to, try and train a few times a week with lighter weights or body weighted to provide enough stress/stimulation to hold all of your muscle mass during Ramadhan.
It is easy to lose muscle mass but with the above tools you’ll hopefully be able to retain what you have if you’re not able to build.
Last but not least, take advantage of the Holy month with planned reduced training intensities, which can be an opportunity for your body to grow and recover properly (provided you adhere to the nutritional advice above).
Most importantly though, take care of yourself and enjoy the month for its spiritual gains. You’ll be able to get back into exercise when you’re feeling fitter and stronger after this month too.
Lots of love