Eating well during the times when you are not fasting can help 'prevent' muscle loss
Fasting during the Holy month in the UAE can take its toll on the body. Changing your eating patterns and training times can lead to weight loss, weight gain and even muscle loss but there are ways to combat this.
We asked a professional personal trainer in Abu Dhabi for his advice and tips to prevent too much muscle loss.
Fasting during Ramadan can be difficult if you’ve recently started personal training to gain muscle mass in the UAE. As a professional personal trainer in Abu Dhabi what are your top 10 tips when it comes to fasting ‘and’ training to ensure gains are not lost.
Eating Enough Food
First thing to make sure is that during the unfasted period of the day in Abu Dhabi you are eating enough food in order to hit your maintenance calories for that day.
Depending on your age, height, weight and activity level this will differ from person to person so you will need to work out an approximation of your maintenance calories which can be done using a calorie calculator online (https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html#).
Whether your goal is to gain or lose weight I believe the best way to maintain as much muscle mass as possible is to consume between 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
So, for a person weighing 75kg in the UAE they would need to consume anywhere between 112.5 to 150 grams of protein per day.
This can come from animal protein sources, such as meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. Or plant protein sources, such as soya beans, quinoa, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Supplements like protein powders and protein bars are also a great option to hit your daily protein goal.
Obviously, there are many more options to choose from, but I just listed a few.
Training Times During Ramadan In The UAE
When it comes to training during Ramadan and ensuring your gains are not lost, I believe the best time to train would be an hour or two after breaking your fast or a couple hours before starting your fast.
If you choose to train and exercise after iftar try not to stuff your face with as much food as possible.
Energy Food When You Break Your Fast
The best thing to do would be to break your fast with a light meal consisting of a portion of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
This should give you enough energy to help you push through a heavy workout the way you would during the other 11 months of the year.
Training during the fasted period of the day will most likely leave you feeling tired and weaker than usual and as a result have you lifting lighter weights and training at a lower intensity. This can lead to potential muscle (gains) loss.
So to avoid any potential muscle loss during the month of Ramadan in Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Sharjah train after having eaten at least one meal and keep the intensity and weights up.
With that being said, if your goal is to lose fat, I believe the best time to train would be just before breaking your fast. Keep this training at a low intensity and between 30-60 minutes. As your body is depleted you don’t want to do anything high intensity as this can lead to injuries.
When training in a fasted state the intention is to try and use your body’s fat stores for energy, instead of utilising the energy from a pre-workout meal. Around six hours after eating, our bodies enter what is called a fasted state. When you start to workout in this fasted state, the body turns to burning fat as a secondary fuel source.
3. Make Sure You Drink Enough Water
Drink sufficient water during the unfasted time of the day in the UAE.
Anywhere between 2 – 3 liters should be enough for the average person however if your job requires you to be outside in the heat for most of the day then you will probably need more.
A good test to see if you are hydrated is to check the colour of your urine. The goal is to have your urine as clear as possible. Yellowish to orangish yellow and darker means you are dehydrated to severely dehydrated and you need to drink a lot more water.
Avoid overeating or eating lots of fast and processed food. Going out once a week with friends or family for a massive Iftar buffet is fine but avoid doing that everyday of the Ramadan period.
Stick to smaller meals spread throughout the evening and early morning and opt for foods that will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Great choices would be boiled potatoes, eggs, oatmeal, meat, fish, vegetables, quinoa, nuts to name a few.
Avoid frying and cooking in lots of oil. This can lead to eating an excess of calories without even realizing.
Stick to air frying, boiling, or roasting as ways to cook your food.
Muscle Building Supplements
Supplements are a great way to up daily protein intake if you struggle eating enough food in the short unfasted window. Other great supplements to take to help prevent muscle loss during the month of Ramadan would be a daily Multivitamin and an Omega-3s.
Most people don’t consume their daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables which may result in a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals.
This can leave them feeling tired and even puts them at a higher risk of getting sick or developing diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes or heart problems.
If you feel you aren’t consuming sufficient fruits and veg then it might be a good idea to supplement with a daily multivitamin.
Although multivitamins are a great supplement to a healthy diet, everybody has unique health needs.
Health should never be approached from a one-size-fits-all mindset in the UAE. For this reason, a multivitamin may not fully address health concerns like poor digestion, inability to fall asleep, or exercise recovery.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the “good” types of fat. They may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. Your body can’t make them. You have to eat them or take supplements. If you eat a lot of fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters or consume lots of nuts or seeds then you may already be getting enough omega-3s from your diet.
However, if you’re not a lover of fish or nuts then it might be a good idea to supplement your diet with an Omega-3 capsule.