Healthy Benefits of Fasting
Ramadan Kareem 🌙 ☪️
Learn about the health benefits of fasting and how to keep your health in check this Ramadan.
The month of Ramadan is the most special month in Islam, during which the devout Muslim fasts from dawn until sunset and practices self-discipline, sacrifice and generosity.
In recent years, fasting has become more and more popular in the Health and Fitness world and found many proponents advocating different forms of fasting for their Health Benefits. Research shows that besides spiritual purification, fasting can also bring along many physical health benefits, including weight loss, cellular purification (autophagy), a strengthened immune system and even improved cognitive performance.
We have put together a few tips which can help you taking advantage of this Ramadan to transform your body and improve your health.
While this sounds evident, at Iftar it is not uncommon to eat more than what our bodies require. This can be due to the strong feeling of hunger and sometimes even the false belief that eating more today will decrease my hunger tomorrow. Overeating will not decrease your hunger the next day. It will just increase your body fat without any benefit and most likely make you sleepy.
To manage your hunger it can be helpful to break your fast with a small snack (a few dates are a popular choice) and then after a break starts with the meal. Make sure that you eat slowly - when very hungry we can have the tendency to eat fast which can lead to overeating, as the body takes time to recognize that it is full.
Limit your carbs
Your body starts burning significant amounts of fat once it has used up all the carbs in your system. The fast allows your body to use up its carbs and the fewer carbs you eat, the earlier it has to start switching to fat as a fuel and the longer it burns fat. You might even want to consider a low carb diet such as Keto. However, be aware that Keto does not allow for cheat days and if you are not able to follow it strictly could be counterproductive.
Maximise your fasting hours
If you don’t stay up too late, it shouldn’t be too difficult to not eat anymore after your Iftar meal. If you then skip Suhoor, you effectively have over 20 hours of fasting time which not only leads to many hours of fat burning, but fasting periods of more than 12 hours help to reduce insulin resistance and after 16 hours of fasting your body starts a process called autophagy, where it eats defective cells and uses them to regenerate new healthy cells. Studies also show a boost in Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production, which increases with the length of the fasting period.
Include strength training
Including strength training during the fast is very important to help to prevent loss of muscle tissue and potentially increasing it. A higher amount of lean muscle tissue is one of the most significant factors determining not only your level of fitness and energy but also your resistance to sickness and injuries. It also reverses the effects of sarcopenia, the loss of muscle tissue due to ageing.
The naturally increased HGH level during the fast will help boost the results of your strength training.
Time constraints due to family commitments, as well as the lower levels of energy during the fast, might make it more challenging to work out. The latter also makes it difficult to overload the muscles during the workout for maximum growth.
For people struggling with either of these problems, EMS training could be a great solution as it addresses both. It allows you to effectively train all your major muscles within one 20 minute sessions per week, replacing 3 conventional gym sessions and it also ensures maximum muscle contraction during the workout through precisely placed and dosed electrical impulses.