Dubai: Are you the fortunate one to have lost substantial weight three weeks into over 12-hour fasting mode during Ramadan?
International dieticians and nutritious say those who observe the fast in the right spirit and include healthy foods during suhour and iftar can actually achieve a significant reduction in weight and body fat.
A 2013 study published in the US National Institute of Health publication had 240 male subjects who observe fast during Ramadan for at least 20 days.
Their health parameters including weight, waist-hip ratio, Body Mass Index (BMI) were noted before they started fasting and after 20 days, their examination indicated a significant loss of weight, change in body shape, waist-hip ratio and BMI.
Dieticians have long held the belief that intermittent fasting (IF) has fantastic health benefits.
Intermittent fasting is a simple principle of fasting for a substantial part of the day (12 hours and more) and having a limited time window to eat meals that triggers detoxification in the body.
The suhour meal followed by a daylong fast and iftar allows an individual to rest their digestive track for more than 12 hours and to eat from sunset to sunrise, giving the devout a chance to reclaim their health.
Rashi Chowdhary, diabetic educator, nutrition and metabolic expert and founder of The Protein Bake Shop, explains how IF works. “There is so much research now that shows how fasting can help your metabolism and your organs to function more efficiently. Here are some proven facts of plain intermittent fasting. Intermittent fast is where you eat over a period of 8-10 hours in the day and switch off eating for the rest of the 14-16 hours but you can consume water, green tea, black tea and black coffee without sugar (though not during Ramadan for those who are fasting).
Some of the benefits of IF are:
It holds tremendous promise for fat loss, preventing certain diseases, specially cancer, and increases resilience.
It has shown massive improvements in insulin resistance and reversing Type 2 diabetes (when done correctly and under medical supervision).
The body kickstarts some important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.
Growth hormone levels shoot up almost three-five fold which makes it easier for the body to accelerate the fat-burning process.
Chowdhary thinks fasting during the day for over 12 hours during Ramadan is an ideal diet detoxification time.
Chowdhary often gets clients during Ramadan who observe the fast with a consultation on the right types of food groups to include for suhour and iftar.
“I have personally consulted clients during this time and it has more positive benefits, if you eat correctly according to your activity levels and gut health. In fact, it is a great time for those who have reached a plateau and are not seeing any changes on the scale or in their inches despite all their hard work,” she explained.
Food combinations that work
Eggs with mashed potatoes and nuts or
Chicken with rice and vegetables or
Quinoa paratha cooked in ghee with home-cooked vegetables
These are loaded with good carbohydrates and fibre, have sufficient protein and good fats to last you through the first half of the day. The slow-releasing energy from nuts, eggs, meat and vegetables will help you feel energetic without crashing your levels by noon.
Dates with nuts and coconut water
A bowl of fruits with coconut chunks
Banana and almond milk with almond butter smoothie
Dates with lentil soup
All these options instantly hydrate you and give you all the essential micro-nutrients like magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E etc. Coconut water has a pH value (the acid-alkali balance) very similar to our blood pH, making it extremely easy for your nutritional reserves to get replenished almost instantly. Fruits give you plenty of antioxidants and during fasting, since your body is detoxing, it tends to release a lot of free radicals. The antioxidants counteract the effect of these free radicals. The fat from nuts, coconut chunks and almond butter will enable a steady rise in sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings post-Maghrib.
This will be your second big meal in the day and you should consume enough of macro- and micro-nutrients to keep your metabolism fuelled up. Eating less during Ramadan can put you at a risk of loss of muscle mass, a dip in your thyroid hormones and fat gain.
Hummous with meat and fattoush salad
Rice or rice pasta with fish curry cooked in coconut milk
Sweet potato mash with vegetable stir fry and lentil soup
All these are nutrient-dense meals that have good carbs in a slow-release pattern from the sweet potato, rice, vegetables and lentils keeping you satiated.
What to expect if you eat this way
Prevent any digestive issues like gas, bloating and constipation
More stable sugar levels through the day and fewer cravings at iftar and midnight.