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How To Lose Fat And Gain Muscle During Ramadan

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I coach a few people who have diet and exercise plans that are going to significantly change during this month in observance of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

These people are, in particular, 1 girl and 2 guys who each have the goal of getting a better body through the process of simultaneously losing fat and gaining muscle.

Problem is, it can be tough to do frequent weight training sessions, high intensity cardio, and the occasional longer fat burning session when you have a limited window of time to also squeeze in eating and sleeping.

For those of you not familiar with Ramadan, it is a period of about 30 days during which observers will refrain – from dawn until sunset – from eating & drinking, sexual relations, forged speech & evil actions; combined with increased recitation of the Quran.

So what is a good exercise and diet for Ramadan, and how can you lose fat and gain muscle during Ramadan, or during any other period of time where you need to or want to work in a daily fast?

Here is a sample meal plan and exercise plan that is very similar to what my clients are using:

Morning:

-Wake up before sunrise for your morning meal.

First Meal:

-Choose from one of the following meals for breakfast. Immediately before breakfast, consume your digestive enzymes, your hormone supplement, fish oil and vitamin D (consuming these supplements with a meal will enhance absorption).

• 4 eggs cooked in 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil, mixed with one sliced avocado and/or large handful olives, spinach, sea salt, black pepper, onions, garlic, cayenne pepper and turmeric. You may also lower this to 2 eggs and instead include 4-6oz of a breakfast meat, such as turkey bacon, chicken bacon or sausage. Include 1 piece of fresh raw fruit (not fruit juice).

• 8-12oz full-fat yogurt mixed with 1 large handful almonds or pumpkin seeds, 4-6 Brazil nuts, and 2 handfuls dark berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries or dried goji berries). Include a side of roasted or steamed vegetables OR an extra serving of your greens supplement.

• 3-4 scoops of protein powder mixed to desired texture with almond milk or coconut milk. Into this mix, include 1-2 handfuls unsweetened coconut flakes or Cocochia, 1 large handful almonds or pumpkin seeds, 4-6 Brazil nuts, and 2 handfuls dark berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries or dried goji berries).

Sleep:

-If possible after breakfast, go back to bed for 2-3 more hours sleep. This is better than shorting yourself on valuable recovery sleep by stressing through a post-breakfast workout.

Fast:

-Begin fast. In a scenario where water or minimal use of supplements would be allowed during a fast, you’d want to be using 5-10g amino acids 1-2x during the fasting period, along with 2-3 cups green tea and 1-2 servings of a greens supplement, but these are technically not allowed for Ramadan.

Pre-sunset workout:

Time this workout to be able to complete it 15-60 minutes prior to your post-sunset evening meal. All your workouts that I add to your calendar this month will be either:

A) easy, fasted aerobic sessions, such as 20-45 minute bike rides or runs; or

B) short, higher intensity body weight workouts that include brief but explosive cardio boosters during the workout.

Performing these fasted workouts immediately prior to your meal will help to maximize post-exercise protein synthesis and recovery, and since body temperature and peak protein synthesis are both going to occur in the later afternoon or early evening anyways, this is a better time to be doing this workout compared to squeezing it in after breakfast and shorting yourself on sleep.

Immediately post-workout, consume 10g of your whole amino acids supplement or 5g of L-Glutamine, along with a serving of your greens supplement. If you’re wanting to use probiotics for optimizing digestive health or Chinese adaptogenic herbs for optimizing mental performance, this would also be a good time to take those.

Second Meal:

-Choose from one of the following meals for dinner, which you should ideally time to eat about 15-60 minutes following your evening workout. Immediately before dinner, consume your digestive enzymes.

• 8-10oz tuna or salmon steak, with 3-4 cups mixed vegetable salad with olive oil/vinegar dressing, and 1 large cooked sweet potato, regular potato, yam, or 1 cup cooked wild or brown rice. Salt, pepper, lemon and spice liberally to taste. OK to include 1-2 tablespoons full fat yogurt or butter, teaspoon honey and sea salt on potato.

• 10-12oz beef, bison or buffalo, with 3-4 cups roasted vegetables cooked in coconut oil or olive oil, and 1 large cooked sweet potato, regular potato, yam, or 1 cup cooked wild or brown rice. Salt, pepper and spice liberally to taste. OK to include 1-2 tablespoons full fat yogurt or butter, teaspoon honey and sea salt on potato.

• Very large vegetable salad with olive oil, avocado, olives, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chopped tomatoes and carrots. For dressing, use ½ cup full fat yogurt stirred vigorously with a finely chopped cucumber, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Include 1 cup cooked rice, quinoa, amaranth or millet, prepared with butter, olive oil and desired spices.

Before Bed:

-With small glass water, consume 250-500mg magnesium, one serving of a liquid minerals supplement (optional, but good for sleep and recovery if available), and 10g of your whole amino acids supplement or 5g of L-Glutamine. If you’re finding yourself getting very hungry at night, you can also include 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil.

The exercise and diet for Ramadan outlined above will allow my clients to successfully continue their fat loss and muscle gain during the month of fasting, while keeping appetite levels stabilized and optimizing their vitamin, nutrient and mineral status. They won’t be able to exercise for as hard and as long as they may normally, but they’ll end the month in good shape, with typically 1-2 pounds of fat loss per week, and very little sacrifice or slight gain of lean muscle.

If you have questions, comments or feedback about an exercise and diet for Ramadan, or about the best way to structure exercise and diet with fasting, then leave your thoughts below!

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17 Responses to “How To Lose Fat And Gain Muscle During Ramadan”

  1. abdi says:

    hi ben. great post with the month of fasting around the corner. i have a severe allergy to dairy. what would u recommend i substitute yogurt it with?

    from personal experience, i recommend a banana to be included in the pre-fasting meal as the high potassium content helps curb thirst and would advise most people to drink a cup of water every 2 hours after breaking the fast to stay hydrated. dates and whole fruits should be a good source of energy that wont cause unhealthy insulin spikes. i second working out before breaking your fast. recent research has shown that doing short interval cardio while fasting works to pinch hit for leptin and speed up fat loss

    • Great idea on the banana as the option for the fresh, raw fruit, Abdi. In terms of dairy, one really good and quite filling substitute is full fat coconut milk, which you should be able to find in the Asian cooking section of the grocery store…

  2. kimo4fun says:

    thanks for this amazing advice Ben it's very useful my question is how can i practice in Ramadan especially i get too thirsty and tired what should i do i hate to quit training i usely run 6–16 km twice a week and some exercises
    What do you recomand i hope you keep Ramadan advices comming
    God bless you

  3. MRK says:

    Looks great Ben, but I think you'll find *any* water consumption during the fast is disallowed.

  4. feerlessfood says:

    Nice post Ben. But, are you sure Aladdin practiced Ramadan…?

  5. abdi says:

    i would also advice on curbing sodium intake during the month of ramadan to avoid thirst and binging on water after breaking the fast

  6. Sana says:

    Hey, I exercise at nite before Sunrise I do low impact aerobics and strength training then I have my breakfast which is kelloge special k cereal and yogurt, dates, dried fig and banana shake

    Then after sunset I have fruit salad no sugar and a date later I walk 7-10 km.
    I’m thinking of skipping or running on the stairs .
    Will my plan make me lose weight???? I am 160 Pounds 18 yrs old and 5″3 please help me

  7. johnclayton618 says:

    The importance of very good diet and meal plans especially for our Muslim brothers will really keep them healthy in their own holiday season.

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  10. Crystal Drop says:

    thank you so much for this plan ! I have been on a diest for almost 3 months now and lost 33 lbs and was so afraid of how am I gonna follow my diet in Ramadan ! but this helps a lot ! thank you so much :)

  11. Ali Fathali says:

    Good Stuff Ben!!!!

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