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coldcow

Staying In Shape While Fasting

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Salaam everyone. I'm somewhat of a fitness enthusiast, and I don't let Ramadan stop me from exercising. If anyone is interested in some of the science behind what's going on in your body when you're fasting, and how to exercise better while fasting, I plan on writing on such topics in this thread.

To start things off, if anyone has any particular questions, please post them and I will try to incorporate them into my posts.

First topic I plan on covering is what is happening in your body while you're fasting.

Edited by coldcow

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Until the body becomes acclaimed to fasting, your metabolism is will be considerably decreased because it goes into starvation mode. If you can control yourself from eating excessively during sahoor and iftar and do light walking/strength training, I think that should be enough to maintain your level of fitness during Ramadan. If you're up for more hardcore exercise, wait until you're used to fasting. How have your workouts been in past Ramadans?

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Salam alaikum,

Dehydration could definitely be an issue, as well as heat exhaustion/stroke if you exercise outside. If excercising one of two times are good depending on how strenuous it is - either right before iftar, so I can drink fairly soon afterwards, or about an hour after eating the evening meal.

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Salam Alaikum,

When is the best time to exercise, before or after fasting?

If after, how long should we wait after eating?

Wasalam.

I would suggest waiting 1 hour after you break your fast so your food has digested properly. Normally 30 minutes is fine but in ramadan, considering you haven't ate all day and may eat a relatively large iftar I would recommend 1 hour of rest.

(salam)

Yes what's the best time for training during Ramathan?

Also, if my goal is to get bigger (gain more weight), is this impossible in Ramathan?

Best time for training depends whether your body building or losing weight. If your body building I'd say wait for 1 hour after you've ate and as for losing weight, I suppose you could always go out and walk for a few hours (thats what I did last year). It barely tires you yet is healthy, you'll probably get a little dehydrated but as long as you live in London you'll be fine lol. Or if not just go out a couple of hours before iftar.

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Ok guys, sorry for the delay. I had something going, but I lost my flash drive that had it on it and then I got lazy. But with Ramadan around the corner, I thought I'd get at least something for y'all.

First off, what goes on in the body when you're in a fasted state?

Well, initially your body is going to start the digestion and absorption process of the nutrients you just ate. Depending on what and how much you ate, your body will absorb most of the nutrients within the first 4 hours after ingestion. During nutrient absorption, your blood sugar will increase, and your body will release insulin to keep it from getting to high. Insulin pulls sugar into cells. After a while, through your daily activities, your blood sugar will begin to be used up by your brain and organs, and your body will release another hormone called glucagon that takes stored sugar and puts it into the blood to keep your blood sugar in check. If you continue to go without food, your body is going to start producing additional hormones like various catecholamines, cortisol, and growth hormone. These hormones have a tendency to keep blood sugar elevated because they activate mechanisms in the body that either convert proteins to sugar, or make stored fat utilizable for energy. An enzyme known as hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) is activated by some of these hormones, and helps produce energy from fat. While cortisol levels are elevated, protein synthesis tends to be mildly inhibited - protein synthesis includes muscle repair and immune function, along with things considered "rebuilding" in the body.

How do you remain fit during Ramadan?

This will depend on your current level of fitness and your current goals. If you're one of our Muslim brothers/sisters competing in the Olympics pretty soon, it would be near impossible for you to maintain peak performance for an entire month of fasting. If you're like an average person, and somewhat out of shape, you could potentially be stronger and faster by the end of the month. The most important thing you need to do is remember to exercise atleast 5 days a week. You need to treat your exercise like you treat your Salaat. It should be that important to you.

Depending on the climate where you live, and the length of your days, you can workout while the sun is still up, or you can workout at night. You need to decide for yourself. Where I live, I will be looking at close to 16 hour fasts and days of 100+ degrees fahrenheit (37+ C). As such, the best time for me to work out will be right before iftar. This way I don't dehydrate myself and get tired the whole day. Another option would be before suhur, but then I'd be falling asleep all day with my schedule.

You may be wondering about the possibility of muscle loss if I workout after 16 hours of not eating. The fact is that research is beginning to show that you don't need to worry much about muscle loss until you start approaching 24 hours of fasting. And even then, with the proper diet and excercise, you should be able to curb it to virtually nothing. So what I'm saying is, no excuses for not working out.

I plan on doing 3 days of cardio and 3 days of calisthenics or weights a week. My cardio will consist of 2-3 mile runs starting 10-15 minutes before iftar time, or immediately after I open my fast and pray magrib, depending on how dehydrated I am from the day. The biggest concern you should have is dehydration. If I'm dehydrated, I'll drink a glass of water after opening my fast, pray magrib, and then go for my run, come back, cool down, continue drinking plenty of water, eat iftar, and then take a shower and pray Isha.

For my strenght training days, since I will be indoors in the A/C, I plan on ending my workout 5 minutes after iftar time. So I'll start accordingly. If I'm lifting weights, I'll cut back on the weight I'll be lifting a little bit, and cut down on the overall volume of reps/sets. This isn't necessary for everyone, but if I don't do it I find that I'm just extremely exhausted the next day, and there is an increased chance of injury if I'm not fully recovering from my prior workout. If I'm doing something like pushups, pullups, or situps, I usually don't cut back on volume.

What I recommend for most of you is to look at your current fitness level. If you can't run, don't worry about it, go for a walk. Start slow/short, and slowly build up to brisk and long. If you don't do pushups and situps, start. If you don't have any weights at home, or a gym membership, fill up a bag with books, or grab a big jug of water and start lifting. Below are a few links to common exercises and how to do them.

Diet

High protein, high fat, medium to low carb

Since we're all from different parts of the world, with different local foods, it's hard to give you a recommended diet to follow, but I can provide a few guidelines to keep in mind. Protein and fat help keep you feeling fuller for longer. I recommend eating lots of eggs, drinking lots of milk, and eating lots of green and leafy vegetables (no potatoes), and some fruit. Fruit is good, but I personally have it in the evenings rather than in the mornings because it tends to fill you up quickly, and get digested quickly, leaving you hungrier quicker. Nuts are also great as they provide good, healthy fats, some protein, and some fiber. Stay away from very oily and greasy food. It might provide you with fat, but it's usually not good fat, and greasy food tends to make you feel sluggish. Lean beef, fish, and chicken are great sources of protein.

If you're a college student living away from home, and don't have a kitchen, or no time to cook. Go out and buy lots of peanut butter. When I was in college, I was an engineering student with a lot of responsibilities outside of the classroom. So time was short, and I also lived in a dorm without a kitchen. Every night I would make 4 peanut butter and honey sandwiches for the following morning, and make 1 quart of powdered gatorade. In the morning I would eat the sandwiches with 1 bottle of Boost (same as Ensure), and drink as much of the quart of gatorade and as much of a quart of water as I could since the days were extremely hot and I had to do a lot of walking. Then sometimes due to circumstances I'd have to squeeze my exercise into the morning, after Fajr and after my food settled a bit. The morning workouts weren't ideal, but they worked, and after a month I was in just as good or better shape at the end than at the beginning.

Conclusion

In closing, I'd like to apologize again for making this little article thing relatively unorganized and anecdotal. Please feel free to ask questions, and I hope it provides you all with some help. You can come up with a dozen excuses every day on why you shouldn't workout that day, but you need to do it. Even if it is 5 pushups, it is better than 0. And even if it is walking just up and down some stairs, or just a quarter mile around the block, it's better than sitting and getting fatter. Remember, treat your exercise like your salaat, like it's wajib.

Also, a note to the women: I feel as though it's especially important for y'all to stay in shape. I think Muslim women have a stereotype of being weak, couped up in the house, etc. Whether true or not, y'all need to make sure that's not the case.

Here are a few good resources:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting - this one goes into some science behind fasting, and if you were to fast to try and lose weight, how to do it (read it for ideas, but I wouldn't recommend following it exactly for Ramadan)

http://www.fitness-training-at-home.com/home-made-gym-equipment.html - homemade gym equipment

http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html - exercises

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/ - exercises

Edited by coldcow

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So yesterday I did a workout, and realized that it would be a great thing for Muslims during Ramadan. It's called "Tabata" training. It involves 8 intervals of training. Each interval consists of 20 seconds of a maximal effort of training, and 10 seconds of rest. Ideally the exercise should be a very taxing exercise that requires lots of muscles and oxygen, like sprinting, rowing, burpees, swimming, etc. For someone out of shape, I would recommend starting with 10 seconds of 100% effort, and 20 seconds of rest, and do 16 intervals instead of 8. As you get better, you can drop your rest time and increase your work time. And then when you really get into shape, you can try 20s work, 10s rest, for 16 intervals.

The reason why I think it would be good for Muslims is that it can help you acheive many of the same benefits of long lasting aerobic training, in a much shorter time, and give some other benefits. And when you're starved for water all day, a few minutes of high intensity exercise may dehydrate you less than 20 minutes of running or cycling.

If you're interested, you can read the scientific paper on it"

Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max." (

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8897392).

You can also google/youtube Tabata if you need a visual explanation.

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So yesterday I did a workout, and realized that it would be a great thing for Muslims during Ramadan. It's called "Tabata" training. It involves 8 intervals of training. Each interval consists of 20 seconds of a maximal effort of training, and 10 seconds of rest. Ideally the exercise should be a very taxing exercise that requires lots of muscles and oxygen, like sprinting, rowing, burpees, swimming, etc. For someone out of shape, I would recommend starting with 10 seconds of 100% effort, and 20 seconds of rest, and do 16 intervals instead of 8. As you get better, you can drop your rest time and increase your work time. And then when you really get into shape, you can try 20s work, 10s rest, for 16 intervals.

The reason why I think it would be good for Muslims is that it can help you acheive many of the same benefits of long lasting aerobic training, in a much shorter time, and give some other benefits. And when you're starved for water all day, a few minutes of high intensity exercise may dehydrate you less than 20 minutes of running or cycling.

If you're interested, you can read the scientific paper on it"

Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max." (

http://www.ncbi.nlm..../pubmed/8897392).

You can also google/youtube Tabata if you need a visual explanation.

the tabata training is a good idea, its nowadays being used in a program called cross fit. its usually 20-30 min programs in which you just do an insane amount of exercise good old fashioned athletic trainning. if you look up cross fit you will find tons of tabata and tabata like workouts. small ones for the most part.

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