Working out during the month of Ramadhan is always a hot topic. I get many questions on this topic and the most frequent one is, when is the best time to workout. But before i go into that, another frequently asked question is, whether or not you should workout during the month of Ramadhan. My answer is, YES. It will be more challending to workout during the fasting month, but that does not mean you should give your body a month break. When it comes to working out during the fasting month, do bare in mind that the timing of when you are going to workout is going to be extremely important.
So below, i would like to share what some of my Muslim Fitness buddies do, and let you decide which is best for you, as well as sharing my opinion on each.
Working out before Sahur
One of my fitness buddies, likes to go for a run early in the morning, comes home, showers, has his Sahur and then begins his fast. This is an excellent idea but there are some challenges to this.
1) You have to wake up extremely early. He gets up at 4am. So this also means going to bead earlier or you will be zzzz for the rest of the day.
2) If you are lifting weights, i don't think any gym will be open at that time. But it is a great chance to do cardio, if that is your fitness goal.
3) I would not recommend this for muscle gaining workouts as after your post workout meal (which will be high is protein and calories), you will feel hungry again real soon within the next 3 to 4 hours. Depending on how heavy you are lifting, your body will need that much nutrition to help it fix itself. So if you can't supply it what it needs at that time, choose a better time.
4) This timing is fine if your goal is weight loss. This way you kick start your day in the right way, fuel up on some good food and then let your fasting do the rest.
Working out during Lunch Hour
I had another friend who would use his lunch hour to go workout and come back. His logic, since you can't eat anything, might as well put that lunch hour to productive use. My biggest concern with training at this hour is dehydration. And remember, you can't refuel your water till much much later. He told me its all in the mind, i don't know. I can guzzle down quite a bit of water when i workout. My other concern is nutrition after the workout. He was doing weights and i told him that the workout gets wasted if you can't fuel your body immediately after that. After a heavy lifting session, your body is highly catabolic and it needs loads of nutrition to shift it into an anabolic phase. Without food, your body will continue to be in a catabolic phase. But he said it makes no difference as all he was doing was maintenance workouts. I would not recommend this to anyone due to the 2 points i made above. But if you have tried this or will try it, do share your feedback with us. How it feels, how difficult it was and of course the results. Again, i would personally not recommend this to anyone.
Just before Buka Puasa
Here is one of my favourite times to workout. Just about an hour before you buka puasa. This way, you can give everything you got and guess what, you will get to load on up loads of food right after that. Also, doing your workout just before buka puasa also allows you really indulge in your buka puasa meal and not worry about gaining weight. Only concern i have is, that you will be very weak and tired by this time, so you will see significant drop in performance. But like i said, this would be my 2nd favourite choice to workout during the month of Ramadhan for the fact that you can fuel up almost immediately after that and that it helps to ward off fat storing when you do indulge.
Small Buka Puasa > Workout > Big feast
If you ask me, this is the best technique or time to workout. Many body builders i know practice this and they swear by it. When it comes time to buka puasa, they break fast with lots of water and have a small high protein meal. Eg. Tuna & Egg sandwich on wholemeal bread. Then after about 30 minutes, they hit the weight room and train like normal (or as normal as possible). Once they are done, then they go out for their big feast or the "real" buka puasa deal. This technique is the best becuase:
1) it allows you a chance to fuel your body before you workout, hence giving you a chance to perform at almost your normal level
2) You can drink water during your workout
3) You can push yourself as much as you want, because you can have a big feast after that.
This would be the best time to workout, regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain. So open small, lots of fluids and some protein and carbs. Then workout as normal and then feed yourself accordingly after that. This is one of the preferred techniques for body builders as it allows them to train at almost the same intensity as they would during non fasting days. Also, it allows you to really fuel up after your workout.
So which timing / technique are you going to use during this fasting month. It will indeed be more challenging to workout during the month of Ramadhan, but as the saying goes, "if there is a will, there is a way." Does anyone have any other tips of working out during Ramadhan? Would love to hear about them. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.
PS: Next week, i will share some useful tips on working out during the month of Ramadhan, and hopefully that will further help you with your working out. So look out for it.