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How to stay fit and healthy during Ramadan

Words by Nathan Irvine

Fitness in DXB founder, Jonny Young tells us how to stay in shape during Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time for many to cleanse the mind, body and soul, whilst appreciating everything around us. It’s a time that takes a lot out of a person’s body, especially those who fast for the Holy Month.

In terms of health and fitness, it’s important to listen to your body and observe the feelings and emotions that come with fasting.

When you do break your fast, do so mindfully, thinking of the spirit of Ramadan and your personal objectives during this time.

Here are five hints and tips to help you through the process.

Make sure you don't fall into the takeaway trap. Eat healthily.

1. Hunger explained

Hunger is a sensation felt in the body because of the secretion of a hormone called ghrelin. It's usually secreted around your regular meal times.

The hunger sensation does not actually mean your body is in need of food. When you feel the hunger, make a mental note of how long it lasts, and note how it disappears after a while.

Notice when it comes back that it rarely comes back stronger than before, but usually with the same intensity. When you understand this, you realise that a day of fasting is not resisting food for a certain number of long hours, but rather short bouts of hunger that tend to surface when you usually eat.

2. You do not need to consume energy

Another eureka moment is when you understand this simple truth.

If you have stored body fat like most of us do, you actually have a huge supply of energy that you can tap into to give your body all it needs. Body fat is stored for this exact reason, to provide you with energy when you need it.

Therefore when you feel hungry and your internal dialogue tries to tell you it’s because you’re in need of energy, pinch your belly fat - is it still there? Great, no need to worry, you've got plenty to burn for the day.

3. Eat what you need not what you want

What we really need to make sure we are consuming on a regular basis are our micronutrients - think vitamins and minerals.

I recommend plenty fruit and vegetables. Obvious, I know. But not only will this give you most of the nutrients your body requires, but starting with this healthy plate will fill you up with low calorie foods.

4.  Understand your stomach

Our stomachs do not have a built in calorie detector. They just decide when you're full according to the volume of food.

This is why we can still feel hungry after a gallon of sugary drinks and a bag of sweets right after eating them. This is one of the main problems with the modern day diet.

We consume so many high calorie low nutrient foods that we are constantly consuming significantly more energy than we need, which inevitably leads to fat storage.

5. Hydrate properly

Personally, abstaining from water during fasting is something I am not familiar with. But from a scientific perspective I can assure you that being dehydrated is rarely a positive.

It’s commendable to do this during your fasting hours, but when you break your fast your priority should be on rehydrating sufficiently.

Now it’s not only water that your body loses throughout the day via sweat, breath and urine, you also lose many electrolytes. Although there’s a good chance you’ll replenish these when eating, I suggest drinking some natural coconut water or an electrolyte drink (think Powerade or Gatorade) just to be certain.

Shutterstock It's important to stay active during the Holy Month

Jonny Young is the founder of Fitness in DXB - a digital platform that showcases a comprehensive guide to health and fitness in and around Dubai. For more information follow @fitnessindxb on Instagram

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