Updated: Feb 22
Ramadan or not, many people have the goal of burning as much fat as is possible throughout the year. Whether the reason is to mitigate health risks, or simply to look great, people put all sorts of measures in place to ensure that any excess fat is kept at bay and burned as best as possible.
There are some practices, however, that is not necessarily intended to affect health, but they can as they come with modified nutrition patterns. Of course, once patterns are modified, careful steps must be taken to ensure those fat loss goals are not only still attainable but are also being realized, for more on fat loss, click here.
One of these pattern changes comes in the form of Ramadan for Muslims. In Islamic culture, Ramadan is revered as the most sacred month of the year. The idea behind the month of Ramadan is to acknowledge the fact that Allah provided the first chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. During this time, Muslim families gather to celebrate, and they engage in prayer while abstaining from the pleasures of their respective lives.
The interesting part of this article, however, is where fasting comes into play. This is a huge shift in nutrition pattern as fasting takes place from dawn until sunset. Below are a couple of measures that can be taken to maximize fat loss while the month of Ramadan is in effect.
Protein is Your Friend
Since there are very small windows of opportunity for eating during Ramadan, you need to ensure that the diet that you are consuming is optimized for the result that you are trying to achieve. If you can increase the proportion of muscle in your body, then you are also reducing the proportion of fat at the same time. The fasting periods result in a protein deficiency and it is up to you to compensate for this by consuming not only enough protein (at least 1.5 g to each kg of body weight).
The limited choice also means you need to choose quality protein sources such as eggs, whey protein, or Greek yogurt. Also stick to lean meats such as chicken, fish, and beef, more information on why you can’t build muscle can be found here.
Move Around a Bit
Not everyone has an active lifestyle, and even if you do, the lack of energy that results from the lack of an optimally scheduled diet means that you are likely to feel like physical activity should not be on your plate. However, it is recommended that you do simple aerobic activities throughout the day as it triggers the body to be in a constant fat burn mode. Bodyweight exercises are great here as they allow you to get the workout you need without the additional pressure of weights on a body that results due to the lack of steady nutrition.
Work on Your Stress
Stress is great in small bursts as it fosters processes that produce chemicals that are very beneficial to the body. However, when it is around for long periods, there is a problem. The main factor here is cortisol, which when continuously released in large quantities negatively affects the way your body uses various nutrients. Continuous cortisol production means that the body becomes less and less efficient at managing the use of nutrients and so weight gain is achieved as opposed to weight loss.
At a time when your eating is restricted, you need to put in a greater effort than usual to work on your stress and keep it as low as possible.
Sleep Well During Ramadan
Sleeping is the most under-appreciated component of weight loss even when Ramadan is not present. There are biological processes that are improved by sleep, which result in the body being better able to burn fat. Here are a couple of examples of how it works:
Insulin – The body burns fat cells by releasing fatty acids and lipids for energy production. As the body becomes fatigued, however, the insulin signal response worsens meaning that this process can no longer be properly undertaken. This means that instead of being converted, the fat cells are simply stored in random areas in the body (areas that are not suited to housing fat cells).
Cortisol – The danger of this is highlighted above. A lack of sleep puts the body in a state of stress (even if you don’t feel as if you are stressed). This results in an uptick in the release of cortisol.
Unproductive for muscle development – Many people think that any damage caused by sleep deprivation can simply be mitigated by working out twice as hard. This is a myth as a lack of sleep results in lower growth hormone production and decreased protein synthesis. This makes you susceptible to muscle wasting, a higher likelihood of injury and increases the difficulty associated with muscle gain. Hence, the muscle to fat ratio is hard to affect in a positive manner.
It is not impossible to build muscle and experience fat loss during Ramadan; however, care needs to be taken to ensure that the correct steps are being followed. While the list is not exhaustive, the four steps above are a great place to start.
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