Ramadan Health Revolution: The 5 Most Important Health Tips to Follow

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Oh, hello there. Its been a while, and for this I apologize, but let’s catch up really quickly. Since we last talked, I graduated pharmacy school and will be moving out to Connecticut to complete a year of post-graduate residency. I have a lot of things I want to do in the upcoming months, but first I want to share with you my most immediate idea, The Ramadan Health Revolution.

For those who don’t know, Ramadan is the month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. To make it clear, the true overarching purpose of this holy month is not for one to simply starve themselves, rather, to strengthen our closeness to God. By refraining from food and drink, we strive to become more patient, gain greater self-control, be kinder to others, gain a better appreciation of what we have, and much more. As our spirituality becomes healthier, it is a prime opportunity to make our bodies healthier as well.

With that said, before we jump into the article, let me tell you more about what I have planned. On my Facebook page I will upload DAILY WORKOUT VIDEOS. Short, 10 minutes of different types of exercises ranges from high intensity interval training and mobility training to deep stretching routines. Note that these daily workout videos are for anyone and everyone to do at home, not just for those observing Ramadan. Check out the FB page for more information. Now, let’s dive into the article. Here are the most basic and simple, but most important things to keep in mind this Ramadan.

  1. Stay hydrated
    Seriously, I don’t think I need to convince you the importance of water. I will say, though, one glass of water and Rooh Afza does not cut it. In every aspect imaginable, your body does not function optimally when it is dehydrated. Grab a liter bottle of water and keep it by your side from when you break your fast until the next morning. You should try to aim for a minimum consumption of 2 liters of water spread throughout the window of time you can eat/drink.
  2. Eat fiber
    I’m going to feel pretty confident in the following statement: no one likes being constipated. One of the biggest nutritional challenges of being able to eat in a small time frame is getting your proper nutrition. To optimize your bathroom efficiency, make sure to include foods high in fiber for when you can eat. Foods high in fiber include: raspberries, apples, green peas, beans, Quest Bars, and whole wheat food items. Am I the only one that finds it weird raspberries has a ‘p’?
  3. Pay attention to how you break your fast
    In moderation, I’m all for foods like cheesesteak, pizza, and fried chicken. However, although there’s probably never a great time to eat such food items, upon completion of a 16 hour fast may be the worst time. I will never tell you to avoid any foods in entirety, remember the if it fits your macros concept? I will say, however, to minimize your pakora days and try opening your fast with something clean like fruits instead. Also, don’t eat too fast. Remember that leptin, the hormone that tells you you’re full, takes some time to deliver its message. So if you go guns blazing into iftar you are going to overstuff yourself for certain; don’t be tricked by your hunger, take it slow.
  4. Eat suhoor
    Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, is really important to keep your nutrition in check while fasting. Don’t think of the only function for suhoor to help prevent you from getting hungry. Think of it as a chance to supplement your body with the proper nutrition it needs to function optimally. Protein to maintain muscle mass, fiber to help you poop, carbohydrates for energy, etc.
  5. Exercise
    I’ll have a more in-depth post on exercising during Ramadan soon as I’ve read some good literature regarding exercising while fasting. I will say, though, the most important point when it comes to exercising during Ramadan is making sure you can refuel immediately after exercising. Whether that means timing it right before iftar or doing it later in the evening, make sure you can replenish your body. Upon completion of exercising during a state of fast, your body is starving for nutrients to replenish itself. You want to make sure to give it the nutrients it needs otherwise you may be doing more harm than good from your exercise.

6 Foods For Suhoor to Keep You Running Strong

I’m not even going to get on a rant about how FNDfitness has creeped into the shadows amidst my busy and challenging final year of pharmacy school. Instead, i’m gonna hit you with some serious alliteration (see title) and some tips to power through the second half of Ramadan.

Quick intro for the non-muslims: During the holy month of Ramadan, observed by Muslims around the world, we abstain from foods and drinks from sunrise to sunset (approximately 3:50am-8:30pm). Since that’s about 17 hours of no food/drink, it’s important for Muslims to wake up for suhoor, or a meal right before the sun rises. There is so much more to Ramadan than just not eating/drinking as it’s really a means of boosting our spirituality. I’ll let you read more about that here, if you’re interested.

1.) Quest Bars
BOOM. This. Quest bars are too good to be true. Kinda like when your IG picture of you ‘accidentally’ flexing in front of the biggest mirror in the gym gets 100+ likes. Quest bars are like the Lamborghini of protein bars. You won’t find another that tastes as good or has macronutrients comparable. They have 190 calories, 21g of protein, 21g of carbs, 8g of fat, and 17 GRAMS OF DIETARY FIBER. Let me put this into perspective. Recommended amount of fiber for women is 25g and 38g for men.[1] The average adult gets only 15g. Heck, Fiber One bars, which are advertised for their high fiber, have 9g. Point, Quest bars. Fiber helps to keep you feeling full, regulate your digestive system, lower cholesterol, and more. Also, they contain about an average of 6 ingredients, so it’s not filled with crap. They use the highest quality ingredients so you feel all magical inside after finishing a bar. The 21g of protein will also help with keeping your gains and your satiety (feeling of fullness). Oh yeah, it tastes like a candy bar. Buy here online or find in your local GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, or ShopRite. My favorite flavor is cookies and cream <3.
P.S. no, i’m not being paid by Quest. But Quest if you’re reading this and want to be endorsed by an up and coming fitness blog with like 3 regular readers, hit me up ;). email: effendi621@gmail.com

QuestBar pictures2.) Fruit
Time to #hitemwiththestudies. I’m trying to get my own catch catch phrase, we’ll see if this starts trending soon on twitter. So, they did a study in Mexico to compare the level of satiety (feeling of fullness) between four different meals. A fruit salad left participants feeling the most full (even though it had the 3rd least amount of calories).[2] Unsurprisingly, this meal had the most fiber content of the 4 meals and the runner up meal, whole grain bread and beans, had the most protein and second highest fiber content. What kind of fruits are we talking? Watermelon, oranges, apples, and bananas have some of the highest fullness factors.[3] Fiber and protein guys, it’s good stuff.

3.) Whole wheat grains
I’m gonna keep HEWTS (hitten em with the studies). I’m really going all in on this catch phrase, if you can’t already tell. I’m really not cherry picking this study to prove my point, because I don’t need to, science is doing this for me. In fact, that study is really small and not the best designed study, but it gets a few obvious point across. One being, the benefits of whole wheat over refined grains (aka white bread). Whole wheat bread is composed of 3 layers (bran, germ, and endosperm), all of which help promote satiety. The body has to work a little harder to break whole wheat grains down in the body which leads to the feeling of fullness and preventing a sugar spike. Refined grains, as delicious as they are, are stripped of 2/3 layers (bran and germ). Say deuces to the fiber and protein seen in whole wheat grains and hello to a delicious sugar spike. I’m not saying go awal and never eat white bread, i’m just saying it might not be the best option at 3:00AM to help you keep full throughout the day.

fiber 1

4.) Beans
So this guy, Dan Buettner, went to the 5 places in the world in which the most people living in their 100’s reside. One of the commonalities between all these places filled with old people were that they all eat a lot of beans. Beans are very macronutrient friendly and are filled with protein and fiber. Can they give gas, yeah. But I say, don’t let your body’s natural system of reliving gas prevent you from a healthy nutritious staple of life. To further touch upon this subject, would you believe that they actually compared the flatulence of three different kinds of beans? #HEWTS Black-eyed peas had the least number of complaints, but after a few weeks all three groups’ (pinto, black-eyed, and vegetarian baked beans) flatulence went back to normal.[4] Look, if you’re going to taraweeh (extra prayers at nighttime) and ripping the place up, maybe skip this suggestion for now. I’m just tryna help here.

black beans

5.) Whey Protein
For all my shirtless flexing friends out there wanting to keep their gains, you’ll like this one. Protein has a lot of controversies and misunderstandings (ie magic anabolic window of opportunity for post workout protein). Another one you may not be aware of is spreading out protein intake throughout the day versus one bolus high protein intake meal. Spreading out protein intake has some good traction to be potentially superior than one big protein meal. With the small window of being able to eat during Ramadan, taking advantage of this time can be important to spread your protein intake.[5] So go for that scoop of whey protein, blend it with some fruit, and be left feeling full and muscular. Then

6.) Vegetables
lol I know you’re probably not going to listen to this one, who even eats vegetables right? But for completions sake, this list would be quite inappropriate without vegetables. You’re already restricted in Ramadan to be take in a “well rounded, nutritious, and balanced diet” due to less frequent meals. Getting in some vegetables, though, would be really helpful for the nutrition and fiber. If you’re not gonna eat veggies, at least try to get in a multi-vitamin, but you’re not going to get the same bang for your buck.

America, don’t lose faith in FNDfitness. If y’all had enough confidence to vote for Bush for 2 terms, don’t give up on me now.

References:
[1] Zelman, Kathleen, and Elaine Magee. “Fiber: How Much Do I Need?”WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 04 July 2015. <http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/fiber-how-much-do-you-need&gt;.
[2] Jimenez-Cruz A, Loustaunau-Lopez VM, Bacardi-Gascon M. The use of low glycemic and high satiety index food dishes in Mexico: a lot cost approach to prevent and control obesity and diabetes. Nutr Hosp 2006;21(3):353-356.
[3] “Fullness Factor™.” – NutritionData.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 July 2015. <http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/fullness-factor&gt;.
[4] Winham DM, Hutchins AM. Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies. Nutr J. 2011;10:128.
[5]Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, Krieger JW. Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews 2015;69-82. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuu017