Disclaimer: If at any time you might feel too exhausted while exercising during your fast, it is inadvisable to push yourself as this will pose risks for your health.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this topic, let me just say that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Every individual has their own threshold when it comes to how much one can handle exercising while on an empty stomach. Some of us can handle a higher intensity of working out, while others may not even be able to commit to their usual workout routines. What’s most important is knowing what your body needs and what it can handle, and building your routine for Ramadan around that knowledge. If you’re uncertain about being capable of exercising while fasting, it’s fine to test that boundaries with some light cardio like walking and mat exercises like push-ups and sit-ups and see if you can go further from there. If you’re a weight lifter, perhaps try to go down a few kilograms and work your way up again as you prepare to adapt your routine for Ramadan.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re planning on exercising during Ramadan:
1. Do some smaller periodic fasts leading up to Ramadan
Doing this will allow your body to get used to not eating as much while still keeping up with your workout routine. The first week of Ramadan would be the toughest period of getting used to the strain, but if you can manage to build up your own tolerance, then it should be relatively easier to resist the temptation of immediately drinking water after sweating it out at the gym.
2. Plan your routine accordingly so there’s not too much of a gap between your exercise and post-workout recovery
Some of the best times to do your workout would be: 1) right before iftar, 2) between breaking your fast and a main dinner which can act as your post-workout recovery meal or 3) before suhoor. Don’t keep too big of a time gap between exercising and replenishing the lost liquids in your body due to sweat, even if you might be aiming to lose some weight and bulk up at the same time during this month.
3. Eat appropriately for suhoor
Have a meal that’s packed with healthy, whole grain carbs, like oatmeal and cereal, for starters. Accompany it with food that’s high in protein like eggs and milk to complete the hearty suhoor. Add some fruits as well if you’re not too keen on a suhoor that’s overly “healthy”. However, make sure to not overeat as it’ll just make you feel lethargic as the day goes by and unable to focus on your usual daily tasks, much less your exercise routine.
4. And have a balanced diet for iftar as well
Again, try to have a meal that’s nutritious and filled with carbs, protein and healthy fats, especially the protein. It’ll help to build and repair your muscles and at the same time, consider opting out of that cake for dessert. It’s a huge temptation to “reward” one’s self after a whole day of fasting with deliciously deep-fried food and sugary treats, but this will only set you back if you’re not eating it in moderation and treating the healthy stuff as priority for your body.
5. If you’re getting lightheaded while exercising, you probably shouldn’t be doing it
Additionally, if you start to feel a little woozy while you’re running on that treadmill, it’s best to take a break and reevaluate your routine, in case you’re pushing yourself too much. Stop altogether if you feel that your body isn’t able to cope with the strain.