We had a small and cozy coffee date with a few women who wanted to discuss food, exercise and productivity during fasting. I am so glad all of them came out to join me. I always love meeting women and understanding their perception of life, strength and wellness. It helps me to grow a person, stay grounded and love the amazing network of women I have the opportunity to connect with.
Here is snippets of what we discussed, questions and how we answered them.
I like working out fasted. I do HIIT right before iftar (meal to break the fast). I felt great last year and even saw some weight loss on the scale. Any tips?
Working out fasted is a great way to burn off stored body fat. Infact when you are fasting, the first 10 to 12 hours is needed to burn off the stored glycogen (stored form of carbs from your previous meal) in your liver. Once the stored glycogen is burned off, your body switched to burning stored fat for energy. This is why the last few hours of the fast, you get a headache. So if you are courageous enough, you can workout and HIIT is the most effective in terms of burning body fat quickly. You must focus on your nutrition intake when you break the fast. Since you have worked out, your body is depleted of carbs, proteins, and is looking to refuel quickly. What you eat here will determine your energy levels and how well you (your adrenals) recover. Focus on the following things:
1. Adequate protein intake of fast digesting protein (protein powders) and slow digesting protein (chicken, meat, fish , eggs).
2. Clean carbs that won’t cause inflammation.
3. Healthy fats to keep your hormones balanced – ghee, coconut oil, etc.
Tip: do not drink too much tea or coffee – these are diuretics and will dehydrate you by removing water from joints and muscles.
I love eating fruits, especially mango. I like to skip a heavy diner and just stick to fruits instead. Then I eat a dinner like meal for suhoor (meal before starting fast). Is this ok?
Ok we have 2 issues here.
- Skipping a meal
- Eating only fruits instead of a meal
Eating Fruits instead of meals
Let’s address the first. Fruits like mangos are super yummy and addictive, especially when you find local grown toxic free ones. But you have to remember that super sweet fruits like mangos are loaded in fructose -fruit sugar. Fructose in the body behaves just like glucose – a form of sugar we get from starch carbohydrates like rice, oatmeal, potato, flour etc. So if you eat carbs in 3 to 5 meals and one of those meals is only high sugar fruits like mangos, you are more than likely over eating carbs again. Too much carbs release too much insulin and not to mention these are quick digesting carbs that hit your blood stream quickly then get used up quickly. So you feel great all the sudden and then hungry all of the sudden too. Yes, fruits do come with micro-nutrients like vitamins and fibre, but you can easily get your fibre from a bowl of raw green vegetables which are not loaded with sugars.
let’s not forget that fruits like mangos are a result of genetic modification which is why they are crazy sweet now days. If you love mangos, I see no harm in having one everyday. The best time to have fruits would be with your first meal when you break fast. The quick digesting sugars are easily used up and reach the places they are needed. Plus if you are working out fasted then the quick digesting sugar in mangos will help you recover quickly.
Do not have fruits after dinner in full stomach. This causes the fruits to ferment quickly and causes bloating. Fruits are supposed to be eaten in empty stomach.
Skipping a Meal
Food is energy for your body. After fasting, which does slow down your metabolism a bit, you need a steady intake of food that provided energy to your body to carry out it’s tasks. Skipping a meal would be your metabolism slowing down again and worse, your body missing out on the nutrients it need to stay strong and keep thriving. You need to give your body a steady flow of amino acids (which you get from protein), carbs and healthy fats all which keep your hormones balanced and brain performing it’s best.
Break up your macro intake into 3 small meals. You meals during fasting will be just like your meals during normal days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can divide your specific food intake accordingly to make sure you don’t miss out on nutrients which otherwise will weaken you. Need help with a nutrition plan for Ramadan? Check out our Ramadan Programme – My Complete Ramadan and don’t miss out on your nutrition intake.
Fasting Exercise and Brain performance
Physical activity is important to keep your brain performance at peak. We know this by the expression of the BDNF genes in the brain after an intense physical exercise session. BDNF is your ‘miracle grow’ for the brain.
- BDNF has been shown to have a variety of functions in the brain. It improves the function of neurons, encourages their growth, and strengthens the connection between neurons. It also helps protect and fortify neurons and their connections against the natural process of cell death.
- BDNF is also a huge factor in learning, as it facilitates more robust connections between neurons. Exercise causes a significant BDNF release in the hippocampus, an area involved in memory, so it also has a huge impact on this.
- Numerous studies have shown that people learn significantly quicker, perform better on tests, and have better memory in a variety of areas following EXERCISE.
Your brain performance during your entire lifestyle – not just Ramadan – can easily be controlled by you, and improved through intense physical exercise.
Not sleeping is the worst mistake we make during Ramadan. Since, the last meal of the night is before sun rise, staying awake a 3 or 4 hours is no biggie, right? Well wrong buddy. You are setting yourself up for fatigue and imbalanced hormones which will not only lower your immune system by up to 60% but also cause you to over eat when you break your fast next time.
1. Research has also revealed an association between sleep deprivation and poorer grades. In a survey of more than 3,000 high-school students, for example, psychologists Amy R. Wolfson, PhD, of the College of the Holy Cross, and Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, of Brown University Medical School, found that students who reported that they were getting C’s, D’s and F’s in school obtained about 25 minutes less sleep and went to bed about 40 minutes later than students who reported they were getting A’s and B’s.2. Studies have also demonstrated that reduced sleep quantity can impair glucose metabolism and appetite regulation resulting in increased risk of obesity and diabetes. YOU ARE OVER EATING AND HAVE NO CONTROL.
4. The brains of insomniacs also show increased activity in the motor cortex and several other brain regions, indicates a study from Johns Hopkins University. That may seem like a good thing, but it’s actually a sign that you’re brain isn’t working efficiently, the researchers say. Like a dog that barks at every noise it hears, your mind is overreacting to its workload, and will wear itself out. As that happens, you become worse and worse at handling simple tasks and making smart decisions, the study suggests.
Your sleep cycle is important. You need to practice good sleep hygiene through out the year and begin right now.
So you see we discussed many topics and went through many things! I am looking forward to many more coffee dates and visits together. If you have a fasting related question just ask below!