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Ramadan Routine: Diet & Exercise

 Ramadan Mubarak!!

In honor of Ramadan, I decided to discuss my personal diet and exercise routine for Ramadan. The focus of Ramadan is on spirituality but giving attention to our body only creates more discipline. Just as we are at our spiritual high during Ramadan, in order to practice for the rest of the year; our health should be no different. Of course, please do not spend hours looking up recipes, preparing food, or working out intensely. Everything is kept in moderation, inshAllah. Below are a few tips to keep you healthy, feeling fresh and instead of gaining weight maybe even losing! Alhamdulilah I followed this last Ramadan and was able to lose 8 lbs---but it was not about the weight loss. I felt light, had lost a lot of fat and gained muscle and just felt so rejuvenated! Best of all, I was disciplined in controlling what I ate. If I could do it during this month, inshAllah I could do it all year wrong. (I was soon proven wrong about this, but iA lets try again! :D)

1. Water Intake
The most important one of all. Water is essential throughout the year but even more necessary in Ramadan. Normally, we are suggested to have about 8-10 glasses of water a day. This may be difficult in Ramadan, but it is not impossible. This does not mean you drink 4 glasses at Suhoor and 4 at Iftar, that's just not going to be a fun feeling and you'll be running to the bathroom every 10 minutes. The key is to spread it out! Here is an example of my water intake for one day. 

Wake up: Drank! (I know you all laughed!) Keep a glass of water before you go to bed. As soon as 
                  you wake up, drink it. (1 glass = about 8 ounces)
Suhoor: 1-2 glasses. 2 may sound overwhelming but if you give yourself time and wake up about 30-
               40 minutes before suhoor, you can do it. Drink one during your meal, and one after. 
Iftar: 2 glasses. First open your fast with a glass of water, dates & fruits. That's it. Pray Maghrib and 
           then come back to Iftar. During your meal have another glass. 
Pre-Isha/Taraweeh: 1 glass. InshAllah if you are able to go to Taraweeh, bring a reusable water bottle with you and drink 1 glass on the way to Taraweeh. 
Taraweeh: 1 glass. This may be difficult especially for those like me who continuously have to go to the bathroom and redo our wudhu. If so, just take few sips in between the rakat to keep yourself awake. 
Post-Taraweeh: 1-2 glasses. Have one on your way home. Have one more before you go to bed. And keep one glass filled for the next morning!
Total: 7-9 glasses of water! Ta-dah! 

2. Suhoor
The number one mistake people make is skipping suhoor or eating something really quickly. I know it is difficult to eat something so early but it is essential for our physical and spiritual well being. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said:
"Eat suhoor, for in suhoor, there is blessing" (Sahih Bukhari)

  • Time: Try to wake up 30-40 minutes before the adhan of Fajr. This way you do not eat too quickly and have enough time to prep and eat your food. 
  • What not to eat: A variety of items can be eaten for suhoor. Avoid parathas, curry based foods. Your stomach is mostly empty during Ramadan and the worst thing is to fill it with oil based foods. This can also cause constipation. 
  • What to eat: Keep it simple. Oatmeal, egg whites, cereal (i.e. nature path, kashi go lean), lentil soups, bananas, peanut butter are great items to have. I usually have egg whites with roti (handmade naan) and sometimes a banana. These are high in protein and fiber and will keep you full for a good portion of the day. High in fiber is also necessary to avoid any bowel issues! 
  • Caffeine? This is difficult for many especially for those that work or are in school. However, if you can avoid it definitely do so. The reason for this is because caffeine is a diuretic which causes you to empty your bladder more often, leaving less water in your body which could lead to dehydration. I myself have 1 up of chai outside Ramadan and during limit it to 1/2 cup at Suhoor and avoid it during Iftar. 
3. Iftar
Dates, Fruits (Strawberries, Mangoes, Cantaloupes), Lentils & Baked Samosa!
Ahh, Iftar...The guilty pleasure of all. I am not sure about other cultures, but I know us desi's are the worst with this. Anything that is bad for you is made during Iftar. Samosas, Pakoras, Egg Rolls, Dhai Barre (all fried!!) and the list goes on. You'll hear most people complaining of how they gained weight in Ramadan. It's almost resembles binge eating in a way because of eating such an excessive, unhealthy food in one sitting especially after not eating for about 16 hours! The first thing I mentioned is water and of course dates. If it is possible in your house have water, dates maybe a few fruits and then pray maghrib. This way your stomach isn't in shock. After maghrib, come back and have a moderate amount of food. Here's an example of what I had. 
Dates: I mainly love these because its Sunnah. It is also rich in sugars, essential for us after a long day 
            of fasting. 
Fruits: This is key especially for those who find it difficult to drink a lot of water. Watermelon, 
             Strawberries, Cantaloupes, Pears, Berries, Pineapple, and Oranges all have high water content. 
             I love me some watermelon and cantaloupes! These are also high in sugar content. 
Lentils: Kaala channa (bengal gram whole), chick peas, daal (lentil soups) are all few examples of 
             lentils. This probably one of the best items you can have for Iftar. They are high in protein and
             fiber, stabilize blood sugar levels, increase energy levels and for those that are interested, help
             weight loss because they are low in calories. For more protein, add in mashed chicken.
Guilty Pleasure: Okay, I know its Ramadan and it is difficult to stay away from these yummy foods.
            For a healthy alternative, instead of deep drying samosas and egg rolls, try baking them in a
            toaster over. My husband and I started it during this Ramadan, and alhamdulilah they taste good
            and no oil! Yay!

You can also have a regular dinner meal as long as you are not stuffing yourself. If your like me and already full, eat another meal after Isha and Tarawih.

4. Dessert/Post- Iftar
Well, we cannot forget about this! You can have a small brownie, cupcake, baklava or even gulab jamun. That is fine, but the best dessert is a fruit smoothie. I've always loved these and let me tell you in Ramadan they are amazing! Last night I whipped myself a fruit smoothie that had bananas, kiwi, strawberries, and peaches. I added a little sugar for sweetness since it was a little tangy and about 1/2 cup water. Maybe next time I'll add some mangoes or cantaloupe. I made myself about 10 ounces and filled it up in my reusable water bottle. I had about half on the way to Taraweeh and the rest on the way back. I was so awake for Taraweeh and reenergized. All I can say is, when I woke up for Suhoor, alhamdulilah I was still full. Tonight I plan on trying a strawberry banana peanut butter smoothie! If you plan on working out, add about 1/2-1 cup of whey protein. 

5. Exercise
Okay, don't be frightened. I am not going to make you do some crazy one hour workout. However, since our bodies are lethargic most of the day with low activity, it is essential to get some physical movement. Last Ramadan, my husband and I did Insanity about 20 minutes after Iftar, right before Taraweeh. It was obviously insane, but amazing. This was mainly for weight loss, in which I did lose about 8-10 lbs and was completely toned. This year the time in between is a lot shorter, so it may be difficult to do so. Here are some different ways you can get some movement! 

Pre-Iftar: This is what I plan on doing this year. 30 minutes of weight/strength training right before Iftar. Do not do cardio! Although difficult because it is at the end, but is the best time so you can take in nutrients post work out. If this is difficult, do not push yourself. 
Post-Iftar: This is probably the most ideal time. I did this last year and alhamdulilah worked out well. However, there is less time this year since Taraweeh is right after Isha. If you are fortunate and live close by to a masjid, then this should not be difficult at all and I highly recommend it. For those that are not use to working out regularly, then just do a 20-30 minute power walk outside. We did this last night, and it definitely helped. The night before (in which I did not work out) Taraweeh was difficult for me and my joints even hurt. Last night, was no such thing! 
Post-Taraweeh: This is good for those that do not work or go to school early in the morning. May be tough, but after a few nights, it'll get easier, inshAllah. 

My Overall Routine
(This is based on Fajr these days around 4 am, you can adjust for the later days)
3:00 am: Wake-up- 1 glass of water. 
3:30 am: Suhoor (Egg, Roti, Banana) and 2 glasses of water
4:00 am: Fajr, Sleep. 
7:00 pm: Make smoothie and prepare Iftar. 
7:45 pm: 30 minute Weight Training Workout 
8:30 pm: Iftar (Dates, Fruit & 1 glass of Water)
8:40 pm: Maghrib
8:50 pm: Meal (Fruit, Lentils w/chicken, Protein Drink, 1 glass of Water) 
9:15 pm: Power walk for 15-30 minutes. 
9:45 pm: Head out for Taraweeh w/ Smoothie (Drink 1/2)
10-11 pm: Isha/Tarawih, 1 glass of water. 
11:00 pm: on way home, Finish Smoothie. 


I hope this was helpful to you all. A bit more lengthy then what I had intended, but definitely necessary. This is not a strict diet that must be followed, but just just a framework to a more healthier Ramadan. InshAllah we can continue it even post- Ramadan. May Allah give you all a blessed and fulfilling Ramadan and increase you in your Iman. Ameen! 
with love,
sania

Check out my latest post on Muslim Girl! 7 Looks for Ramadan 

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