When Ramadan falls in May – a prime month that is usually used for building up to your summer body – Muslims all over the world’s number one concern is: is it possible to lose weight during the holy month of fasting and feasting?
It absolutely is.
Funnily enough, intermittent fasting is creating so much buzz this year within the health and fitness community! Intermittent fasting is an eating cycle that rotates between fasting periods and eating periods – just like holy fasting! It does not specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them – again, just like holy fasting. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts. Can you guess what that resembles?
Fasting dates back to the start of humanity and has been practiced throughout human evolution. It is also practiced amongst many religions besides Islam, including Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. The most popular non-spiritual intermittent fasting method is also called the Leangains protocol. This involves skipping breakfast and having an 8-hour eating period while you are awake (for example, 1-9 p.m.). Then, you fast for 16 hours in between. Now, take that fasting method and shift it around so your eating period is at night and your fasting period is during the day, and you have Ramadan fasting.
Although it is more challenging, and the purpose is different, it is the same concept. And though it is harder, it delivers more enhanced results than the weight-loss intermittent fasting routine described above. That is because, your fasting period is during the day while you’re active, working, running errands, and seeing friends – which gives your burning an extra boost rather than burning while you are sleeping. During the eating period, the rules to weight-loss are not strict or even specific, but as long as you don’t compensate all the fasting by eating exponentially more, your calorie intake will be automatically reduced and you will lose weight! This may be hard to do, so if you’re targeting weight loss while fasting for Ramadan, try to feature one main dish for your “Iftar” (the breaking of your fast). A variety of food and indulgence can generally lead to overeating! So, whether you are at an Iftar gathering or eating at home, fill your plate with a satisfying portion (one main dish and a side), and complete your meal normally, without taking another look at the array of foods at your disposal. For Iftar, don’t shy away from eating carbohydrates or protein found in any red meat, chicken, fish, etc. as you are already fasting and your calorie intake for the day is in the negatives! It is important to fill yourself well so you stay healthy and your body gets used to burning fast.
The known purposes for Ramadan include fasting for spiritual reflection, increased devotion, improved restraint from temptation, and of course, prayer and charity. If you are embracing the holy month and encompassing all that it entails anyway, then you will be rewarded in more ways than one, and enhancing your body and health is not a far-fetched addition to that! Isn’t weight loss during Ramadan much easier than you expected?
It may not be such unlucky fate that Ramadan is falling right before our summer months this year.