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14 May 2018
Dr Uzma Sarwar, former Clinical Director of Luton Clinical Commissioning Group, gives advice on how to maintain your energy levels during the month of fasting.
The daily fasting period is up to 18 hours. No doubt it will test strength and determination, but with the right management, our bodies needn’t suffer. In fact, it’s an opportunity to turn any bad eating habits around.
Our body consists 60% – 70% of water and any reduction in its intake can prevent the body from functioning properly. Dehydration can cause undesirable side effects such as; a headache, dizziness and tiredness.
So, it’s vital to drink at least two litres of water through the non-fasting hours to maintain balanced hydration.
It’s a good idea to try not to drink large quantities of water all at once, or a lot during a meal. Instead, drink water between your meals and drink small quantities of water throughout the Ramadan nights. It is recommended you drink water at room temperature or slightly cold rather than drinking iced water as this does not replenish your thirst but can cause your blood vessels to contract and cause indigestion.
Combining water with oral re-hydration salts such as Hydration Tablets will also give you additional hydration. This is because optimum hydration involves electrolytes and salts, and our bodies need to replenish these to absorb water effectively.
For longer lasting energy, it’s important to pay attention to the quality of the food you eat.
Try to eat slowly digestible and absorbable foods for the predawn meal. These types of foods are complex carbohydrates (whole-wheat breads, rice and potatoes). They will give you energy that can last for many hours unlike foods high in sugar which provide energy for only a short time and then lead to a drop in the blood sugar levels, leading to low energy. Also, whole-wheat bread and cereals are rich in B vitamins which help release energy from the food you’ve eaten. You should try to eat protein-rich foods together with your complex carbohydrates such as boiled eggs, milk and dairy products. These will make you feel fuller for a longer period.
To replenish your energy levels and compensate for the lost nutrients during the day, break your fast with a few dates, a glass of fresh juice and a bowl of soup. These are good sources of carbohydrates and help bring your low blood glucose levels to normal levels.
It’s better to have a ten-minute break before starting on your main meal as it allows the stomach to start working. Ideally, this should include sources of lean protein, such as grilled fish or chicken, carbohydrates, such as brown rice and vegetables cooked with a little oil.
It’s not the most appealing idea at first, but exercise can be a great way of perking up your energy levels. When the body has less food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. The use of fat for energy aids weight loss. Moderate exercise just before breaking your fast, before bedtime and again before the pre-dawn meal can do wonders.
A simple ten-minute brisk walk will help you burn body fat which will help you lose or maintain your weight. Just remember not to over-do it!
So, with this guidance, we can use Ramadan to kick start to adopting a healthier lifestyle and eating habits.