Lose weight this Ramadan with 6 easy food tips
By: Racha Adib
Ramadan may be a chance for you to indulge in your favorite foods. That’s the least you’ll deserve after a day of fasting, right? On the other hand, it can also be the perfect opportunity for the new healthy beginning your body has been craving. If you want to lose weight this Ramadan, you simply have to follow these six must-dos!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Although it may seem like mission impossible with the long fasting hours this year, hydration is key to weight loss this Ramadan. Drinking enough fluids will not only keep you from becoming dehydrated while you fast, but it will also control your sugar cravings after you break your fast. How much should you aim for? A good two liters or eight glasses of fluids a day will suffice, and it can be broken down like this:
• Two glasses at iftar (the breaking of the fast)
• Four glasses in between iftar and suhur (the meal before the fast) – not more than one glass per hour
• Two glasses at suhur
Keep in mind that caffeinated drinks such as coffee or black tea do not count and it would be best to avoid these diuretic drinks all together. Instead, herbal teas make a great alternative to water and may aid your digestion.
Have a light, balanced iftar
In Ramadan, your metabolism slows down and your energy needs decrease as a result. The iftar meal isn’t supposed to make up those hours you spent without food. Forget that you haven’t eaten all day and imagine you have sat down for your dinner meal and eat accordingly.
Break your fast with dates as they are a quick source of the sugar your body needs after a fast. You don’t need to have more than one date as dates are quite high in sugar. Then, go for a small portion of soup, such as a vegetable or lentil soup, and avoid cream based soups. Follow it with a mixed vegetable salad and limit the amount of olive oil in the dressing to 1-2 teaspoons. Skip all other appetizers including the carbohydrate rich ones.
When you are done with your appetizers, it is important to take a break. You don’t want to overwhelm your digestive system. Complete your prayers, take a five minute walk, or hold a conversation. When you’re ready to resume your meal, choose only one main dish, choose wisely and avoid fried dishes, make sure it is balanced in carbs and protein, and most importantly control your portions.
Don’t skip Suhur
It’s true that your “eating hours” are quite limited this year, but this doesn’t give you an excuse to forgo your suhur meal, the pre-dawn breakfast before the fast. Skipping your suhur will get you hungrier the next day and you will end up overeating for iftar.
When choosing your suhur however, make sure it is limited in salt to avoid getting thirsty the next day. It should also be composed of complex carbs such as whole grain bread, instead of white refined bread, and it should contain a good source of protein such as labneh, cheese or eggs. This combination will ensure you have a stable level of glucose in your blood so you don’t get hungry the next day
Fasting is not an excuse for us to sleep all day or be lazy. In Ramadan, you should maintain your usual daily activity level to a certain extent, but do avoid the sun and heat at its peak.
Remember that you’ll be burning more fat than ever on an empty stomach. After you break your fast, aim for 30 min of vigorous exercise a day that you can do from home such as burpees, lunges, sit-ups and squats. Ask your trainer for a personalized home plan that is suitable for you.
Skip processed sugar
It seems the number one cause of weight gain in Ramadan is not the food you eat for iftar. You guessed it, it’s the sugar you consume from Ramadan beverages and sweets.
This Ramadan, challenge yourself to only eat naturally occurring sugar such as fruits, dried fruits, molasses and honey. This will be life changing and oh so effective in ensuring a nice surprise the next time you stand on the scale.
Racha Adib is a Beirut-based licensed dietitian who offers nutrition and wellness counseling to individuals and corporations. She graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics followed by a certificate in Essentials of Business. She is a member of the Lebanese Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics and the Lebanese League for Women in Business. She has also been frequently featured in media on MTV’s “The Doctors,” LBC’s “Mission Fashion,” and Orbit’s “Ayoun Beirut” among others, and hosts a weekly radio program on the latest nutrition news and science breakthroughs. She can be found on Twitter: @rachaadib