Ramadan arrived and many Muslims celebrate by fasting from sunrise to sunset for thirty consecutive days. Ramadan follows the lunar calendar so it comes 13 days earlier every year. As a result Ramadan occurs at all times of the year. Right now, Ramadan happens to occur during the summer with days 16-18 hours long. Abstaining from all food and water for such long period can have adverse health effects if not done properly.
Current research shows the long Ramadan fast increases HDL, the good cholesterol, and lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol. In addition researchers noted improvements in systolic blood pressure, reduction in waist circumference and lower triglycerides; all of which have a beneficial effect on heart disease. Other studies show aerobic exercise while fasting Ramadan results in fat loss and weight loss while aerobic exercise in a fed state results in weight loss alone. Which means individuals not fasting did not lose fat when engaging in aerobics but lost water or muscle instead.
Contrary to the benefits of the fast, people tend to worry about how fasting long hours will affect their metabolism. Researchers looked into the matter and found fasting participants metabolism returned to its pre-Ramadan state 7 days after the end of Ramadan.
From the previous information, fasting Ramadan for long hours does not have adverse health effects; on the contrary it provides some perks. But in order to stay healthy during Ramadan, it is crucial to fast the proper way.
1. Eat before sunrise: Ramadan is a fast from sunrise to sunset, not a 24 hour fast. Make sure to eat at least 2 meals within a 24 hour period.
2. Keep hydrated: Drink as much water as possible during the hours you are not fasting. Also try to eat foods with high water content like fresh fruits, soups, and salads.
3. Focus on fiber: Make sure to get enough fiber, in addition to its health benefits fiber prevents constipation.
4. Protein: Eating protein for the predawn meal will keep you full for a longer time. Protein takes longer to digest so eating protein rich food like eggs, cheese and legumes will keep you satisfied for a longer time throughout the day.
5. Light breakfast: Even though you could eat everything in sight by the time breakfast or Iftar comes along try to keep your meal light. This will prevent you from feeling bogged down after eating a heavy meal. Fresh fruits, light salads, low fat seafood and poultry provide adequate nutrients and easy digestion to keep you going, aid in weight loss and promote health.
Have a healthy, happy Ramadan while enjoying the health benefits by following these easy tips. It only comes once a year, so let’s take advantage of it while it lasts.