Ramadan: How to exercise while fasting?

Want to continue your workout regime while you’re fasting but worried about how to make it work? 

The time of your workout is just as important as what exercises you do. Choose a time when you are fueled but still have an opportunity to fit in a post-workout meal. The best options are after breaking fast but before your main iftar meal and just before suhoor if you can face getting up that early. If you’re used to training on an empty stomach then just before breaking your fast will also work but lack of hydration could be an issue.

What to eat

Before and after training you want to top up your depleted energy (glycogen) stores by taking in some carbohydrates. Choose healthy options such as vegetables and wholegrain alternatives to pasta and rice, also add in protein (for muscle repair) through lean meats, beans, lentils or protein shakes. And don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after training.

Resistance training

As well as using the body’s stored carbs for energy during fasting, it is likely that your body will also turn to protein stores; this can lead to loss of muscle mass. Resistance training helps to preserve muscle mass, so opt for bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges and push-ups or add in weights for deadlifts, shoulder press, chest press and rows.

Cardio training

Keep cardio low intensity during fasting as high intensity will eat up glycogen stores and force the body to use protein for energy. If you want to do some cardio during the day, a walk just before iftar is a good option to safely burn some calories.

Maintenance and recovery
Ramadan is not the time to try to gain muscle — fasting makes this near on impossible. So think about maintaining fitness instead with regular and effective resistance training or use a week or so to think about recovery. Every workout regime needs rest built into it — this could be the time to take a step back for a week or two so you can start strong after Ramadan.