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Jul 21, 2012

Nutrition Advice for Fasting During Ramadan

Fasting during Ramadan is already a challenge within itself; however fasting during one of the warmest months of the year not only intensifies this challenge but also requires a true commitment that can only be marvelled. With an average of 14 hours fasting between Suhoor (Sunrise) and Iftar meals (Sunset), nutrition and hydration during meal time are both highly important.


Fasting affects your body in many ways. As your body undergoes quite a drastic change from receiving food and water on a regular basis to not receiving anything for an extended amount of time, it understandably causes a shock to the system. Your body becomes unsure whether food will be readily available and as a result of this, tries to reserve as much energy as possible by slowing down your metabolism.

In this context, your metabolism is the speed at which your body converts food into energy. A slow metabolism means that the food is converted into energy much slower, which can result in weight gain particularly after Ramadan when normal eating habits are resumed.

Therefore it is important that during Ramadan you undertake measures to keep your metabolism as normal as possible. One of the best ways to do this is with light exercise as this can speed up your metabolism, helping to counteract the effects that fasting has on slowing down your metabolism. Exercise should only be carried out after Iftar or before Suhoor and doesn’t need to be anything intense. The best form of exercise would be a 30 minute brisk walk in the morning or evening.


Water is said to make up over two-thirds of the human body. It is essential for many bodily functions such as aiding digestion and the transition of waste, lubricating eyes and joints and maintaining healthy skin. Dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches, nausea and even affect your everyday decision making. If you are thirsty, this is a sign you body is already dehydrated. As water is not permitted during fasting hours, it is vital that you fully hydrate outside of fasting hours. It is recommended, generally, that you consume at least 2 litres of water per day.

However, due to the possibility of warm/hot weather throughout August, you should aim for 2.5-3 litres per day which is the equivalent of 5-6 small water bottles or 10-12 average (250 ml) glasses. For example, to consume 10 glasses of water you could have 1 glass when you wake up in the morning, 1 before you eat, 1 whilst you eat, 1 after you eat, 1 when opening fast at iftar, 1 before your main evening meal, 1 during your meal, 1 after your meal and 2 before you go to sleep. Although water is the best option to hydrate the body, it is fine to consume other liquids such as cordial, milk and fruit juice. Try to avoid fizzy drinks, tea and coffee as the caffeine acts as a diuretic.

Summary tips

  • Aim to drink around 10 glasses of water each day
  • Include some light exercise in the morning or evening
  • Be conscious not to overeat during meal times
  • Make sure meals consist of complex carbohydrates (pasta, spaghetti, brown rice, granary bread, potatoes, high fibre cereals, porridge oats, beans, lentils.)
  • Try to consume wholegrain carbohydrates(brown pasta/rice/bread, muesli, oatmeal) where possible
  • Include protein in your meals such as eggs, fish, milk and white meat.
  • Try to avoid eating red meat more than twice a week. Although red meat is a good source of iron, it is also high in saturated fat
  • Include a variety of vegetables with your meals
  • Soup is a good starter and adds to your fluid intake
  • Avoid  coffee and fizzy drinks
  • Avoid fatty desserts, instead opt for fresh fruit and nuts
  • Avoid frying foods. Grilling or oven baking food is a much healthier method
  • If you are worried about not receiving enough vitamins and minerals during Ramadan, taking a multivitamin once a day with your meal can help to ensure you reach your recommended daily intake