So continuing on with our tips for staying fit and healthy during the month of Ramadhan, last week we shared some tips on how to buka puasa healthily. As promised, this week, we will cover what kinds of healthy foods should be taken for Sahur. Sahur refers to the meal consumed my Muslims early in the morning before they begin their fast for the day during the month of Ramadhan. As this is technically your last meal before you begin your long fast, its extremely important to note what kinds of food will be good for you and what kinds of food you should avoid. So below are some kinds of food you should be loading up on as well as why we recommend that you do that.
Pick meals that are high in protein
Protein is far more complex than carbohydrates, and because of this, it takes longer to break down. Longer to breakdown also means, it keeps you feeling full for longer. Quite a good thing, especially since you won't be consuming anything for the next 12 to 14 hours. Also, because we are worried about the catabolic effects during the fasting month, loading up on lots of protein before and when we break fast, helps to reduce the effects on our body. So for these reasons, it is highly recommended that you load on high protein foods.
Fruits & vegetables
Fresh Fruits and raw vegetables are great foods to load on as well. Because fruits and vegetables have a high fiber content, it will help to keep you full longer as well. Remember, anytime you have food that helps you stay full for longer, its a good thing for the fasting month. I highly recommend eating raw vegetables and fresh fruits as opposed to cooked vegetables, for the sole reason that raw vegetables have more nutrients compared to cooked vegetables. Steaming vegetables are fine, but when you cook it and make it into a curry, almost all the nutrients are lost. Most of the nutrients in vegetables are very delicate and highly sensitive to heat. Because of this, over cooking it will destroy all these nutrients and just leave you with mass of fiber.
I would generally recommend to keep carbohydrates low, because they fill you up quickly but then you get hungry really fast as well. The problem is, when you get full quickly, you have less space for other useful food items which are high in protein. You become hungry really fast, because all simple carbohydrates turn into sugar almost immediately once it enters the system. Once it turns into sugar, it is either used or stored away as fat. Once that is done, your body starts sending out signals of hunger to tell you that it wants more food. The last thing you want is to feel hungry and not be able to eat. So try to cut out carbohydrates id you can. If you must, consume it, but keep the portions small.
Coffee: Yes or No
This seems to be the never ending debate on whether coffee is good for you or not. Some say no, others say yes. But i am not going to go into that. There is the other argument that it dehydrates you and thus it should be avoided. The argument is that coffee acts as a diuretic, thus making you want to answer natures call more frequently. Well drinking lots of water can give you the same thing, ie make you feel like you have to go. The fact is, mild amounts of coffee won't affect you so i wouldn't worry about it. So YES, go ahead and drink that cup of coffee if you need to, but remember to keep it to a mild level or something that you are used to. If you up to it a dose that you are not familiar with, then it could result is some additional dehydration. But ideally, i would opt for water instead of coffee, but if you must have that coffee in the morning, don't feel bad about it. Its OK, just as long as it comes in small amounts.
So ideally, your Sahur meal should be high in protein and vegetables and low in carbohydrates. This will help to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time plus it will help to reduce the catabolic effects of fasting on our body and muscle. Remember, you won't be able to ward off a catabolic response 100% during the fasting month, but where possible you would like to minimize it, and these tips will help you to do just that.
There you have it. Some simple tips to help you plan your meals for Sahur. Before i end, i would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim friends and readers "Selamat Berpuasa". As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.
PS: Next weeks post will be on exercising and how and when to exercise during the fasting month. So look out for it.