Fasting, the Good, the Bad, and the Healthy

The Holy Month of Ramadan can provide a very good opportunity to lose weight, if one can exercise self-control and not overeat when breaking the fast. However, like everything else, too much of anything can turn against you. What does this suggest?

The Good

Although fasting starts at dawn, the body actually enters a state of fasting eight hours after the last meal. By that time, the body has already finished absorbing nutrients from the food consumed earlier. Now the fun part starts: the body starts to burn glucose to create energy and when that runs out, it starts to burn fat. This is how we begin to lose weight.

The Bad

Do not extend your fast longer than necessary in the hopes of burning more fat, because if you fast for too long, your body will actually start to breakdown muscle protein for energy. The more times that you unnecessarily extend your fast, the more protein that will be burned in order to fuel your body. Essentially, you will be starving yourself. No one typically reaches the starvation stage during the Holy Month of Ramadan since the fast is broken at sunset every day, but you can do more harm than good by fasting for longer periods or by not eating enough after the fasting time (daylight hours) is complete.

The Healthy

Remember that you will not lose weight and then keep the weight off simply by fasting. You will have to tie that together with establishing health habits, such as:

  • Meat should be lean and if poultry, should be skinless.
  • Vegetable soups/grain soups are recommended rathe than cream soups in order to reduce the intake of fat, cholesterol and calories. Vegetable soups/grain soups are rich in fiber, antioxidants and low in calories and fat.
  • Dates should be consumed in moderation. Three individual pieces are equivalent to one serving of fresh fruit or 1/2 cup of unsweetened fruit juice.
  • Milk products are recommended to be low fat or nonfat in order to reduce the intake of fat, cholesterol and calories.
  • Eat raw or cooked vegetables, in addition to fresh fruits. These are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and low in salt, fat and cholesterol.
  • Limit consumption of creamy and sweetened desserts and sugary drinks. Fresh fruits are recommended instead.
  • Carbohydrates should be consumed as per your prescribed diet plan. Carbohydrates should be complex, as these are rich in fiber, in addition to their reduced impact on blood sugar. One cup of cooked Hareese (crushed wheat) may replace one cup of cooked rice. The recommended daily allowance of lean meat or skinless chicken may be cooked with the Hareese.
  • Baked Samboosa is better than fried. Three pieces of Samboosa may replace the combined servings of lean meat and bread.
  • Avoid keeping food at or above room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Consult your dietitian to discuss your plans.