(The Muslim holy month of) Ramadan is continuing on but as it gets into the second half our reserve energy supplies are depleting, so it is important to be smart when deciding how to arrange your daily diet between iftar (breaking the fast) and sahour (starting the fast). Detox treatments have been practiced for centuries to clear up toxins from our bodies and especially the recently practiced detox treatments can sometimes take as long as a month. Detoxes are planned to be smart, while during Ramadan unfortunately we are not as smart when choosing foods that in turn will cause problems such as fatigue syndrome.
It is important not only to take action on a diet plan but also the ingredients during fasting. Just think of what you add or leave out of your diet during Ramadan.
People often consume types and amounts of food they would not normally eat outside of Ramadan in fear of going hungry. People often think they are eating less during Ramadan but most of the time this is not the case. Especially when iftar feasts are taken into consideration. Not only the amount of food but also the speed at which the food is consumed can challenge the limits of your body.
If you add up the effects of a slowing metabolism during Ramadan, it becomes evident that one is actually taking more energy as calories and burning less than usual. This is the main reason why dietitians are changing their plans during this time of the year and arranging a special ¨protective¨ diet plan for Ramadan.
Let’s justify this positive energy balance with an example. If you normally eat a balanced breakfast, a good lunch and a light dinner your diet plan would have about 2000 calories. While fasting, this healthy diet plan would turn into a disastrous one with high fat, regular sugar and basic carbohydrates, and high protein consumption which would add up to 2500 calories with the fear of starving during fasting.
This is a dangerous state, because your body also limits its energy usage due to the fact that it’s not getting regular energy during the day resulting in a positive energy balance that may even cause weight gain. It is actually pretty simple to wear off this fear and be smart to take the ¨real¨ advantage of fasting. The healthy modifications can turn literally fasting to a treatment for our bodies.
The first step would be changing basic-simple carbohydrates with complex ones and adding up a few more grams of protein to your diet plan. Sugar, biochemically called glucose, is your body’s main supply of energy. Our body would start using the glycogen, the glucose stored in the liver, when there is a 4-8 hour starvation period.
The process where glycogen is turned into glucose is called glycogenolysis. During this process we also use some of the protein that we consume by diet. If we do not take the initial 4-8 hour starvation period, only glycogenolysis would provide energy to our bodies for up to a minimum of 8 hours. So, the complex carbohydrates we eat during sahour time would provide energy during this time and still keep you full. After the eighth hour, the proteins we eat – either animal or vegetable originated – will turn into a long-term energy supply with the glycogen in the liver and thus will provide additional energy that will last up to 12 hours. In this case, as I said if we eat smart enough to keep this balance we could fast up to 18 hours without any hunger concerns. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing complex carbohydrates over refined simple sugar sources in our diet plan for maximum benefits. Complex carbohydrate sources include whole-grains and derived breads.
Not only whole grains but also starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, beans, peas and lentils, will supply complex carbohydrates. Besides that it takes time for our body to break them up and provide energy for a longer duration.
They also deliver fiber, which is very important during fasting due to gastrointestinal system hibernation. Additionally, complex carbohydrates would provide valuable amounts of vitamins and minerals. My favorite complex carbohydrate source is buckwheat, give it a try by only moistening it and add to your yogurt bowl. Yogurt is the best protein source for people who fast.
The recent literature published shows that people who eat an average of 100 grams of yogurt in each meal during the day end up eating about 500 calories less during that day. This almost means that i f you add yogurt in your diet plan you will eat less and feel fuller for a longer time. This is why yogurt is a favorite. Additionally, yogurt will not make you thirsty and also will balance your gastrointestinal system. Yogurt should always have its place in your table during iftar and sahour.
If you are taller, drink more water
If we look into the required amount of fluids that a person needs, we see that it is directly correlated with that person’s body mass index. Which means that if you are taller or larger in size you need more fluids than others. On average a 70kg weighing person would need 2.2 liters of fluids (excluding the water in foods) daily. The answer to the question why do people larger need more fluids is that they lose more through the insensible way. We as humans lose a lot of water through our skin or by breathing, we don’t see it but we do. So if your surface area is larger it means that you may end up loosing more water, so you should drink more. During fasting, we have limited time where we eat or drink, so being smart should be important while drinking as well. Daily water need should be consumed through out the period between iftar and sahour instead of drinking in boluses.
The more water you drink in a shorter time, the more your body would turn it into urine due to its excess water receptors. We should be drinking on average 10 sips between intervals. Don’t think that the one liter you drink on the last moment will be enough for you. Additionally, it is not comfortable at all. By the way, do not forget to drink your water cooler or cold, it may increase your metabolism slightly and also it won’t remain in your stomach longer causing discomfort.
Do not forget that being smarter is more important for drinking when compared to eating, especially in these summer months when we need to fast. The fluid loss is higher with higher temperatures, which may cause dehydration. And dehydration is bad for your body. Not only it disturbs your cardiac balance it will end up giving you headaches when you can take pain killers.
This article first appeared in Daily Sabah, a leading Turkish newspaper. Click here to go to the original.