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Ramadan (also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan) is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for Muslims around the world.

You may find difficult to exercise during Ramadan, but it’s important to note that this is also a month of patience and sacrifice. Exercising during Ramadan is purely a test of your “Willpower”.

Image courtesy: Amna Al Haddad, an inspiring woman weight lifter from the United Arab Emirates.

Here's how you can maintain fitness, muscle tone, and minimize a metabolic shutdown during Ramadan.

Don’t Stop Working Out

Fasting for 30 consecutive days without exercise can result in a regression of strength and fitness. Individuals who train a minimum of three to five days a week for 11 months, but avoid training during the month of Ramadan, often face a setback with regard to cardiovascular and resistance adaptations. If you stop exercising for a month, it’s equal to losing four months of exercise.

The Best Time to Exercise

The best time to exercise during Ramadan is after Tarawih prayers at night. This will ensure that you will have several meals and plenty of water in your body before going to the gym. This will also allow you to consume your all-important post workout meal and protein shake, which is essential for muscle growth.

If this is too late then the next best time to weight train is about 1 hour after Iftar before Tarawih prayer. In short, you can either exercise before Suhoor or after Iftar but that exercising while fasting (day time) is "dangerous" and "unacceptable".

You Should Not Exercise Before Breaking Your Fast

Working out before breaking your fast in a fasted state is a terrible idea. Training while in a state of dehydration can decrease strength significantly. In fact, dehydrating a muscle by as little as 3% can cause a 12% loss in strength. 

The Key to Safe Exercising

The key to safe exercising in Ramadan is to listen to your body. If you are tired or exhausted, then either shorten your workout or change your routine. 

Don’t Intensify Your Exercise Routine 

During Ramadan, the body runs on minimal energy reserves, therefore, trying to perform an intense workout can cause damage to your health and make your fasting experience difficult. So reduce the intensity of your workout (weights, sets, repetitions, speed or distance). 

30 Minutes is Adequate

During Ramadan, you shouldn’t exercise longer than 30 minutes. Perform compound movements like squats, lunges, press-ups, dips, plank etc. Compound exercises work well to give maximum impact in minimum time. 

Break Your Fast with Dates and Water

The wisdom in Islam is never ending. Dates contain very high levels of potassium, a key re-hydration mineral and a special carbohydrate blend that enhances hydration above and beyond water alone. So basically when you eat a date and water for Iftar, your body gets hydrated again much faster than with water alone.

What to Eat

  • You should consume “slow digesting” foods including fibre-containing foods (which last up to 8 hours) rather than fast-digesting foods (which last for only 3-4 hours).
  • Slow digesting foods contain whole grains and seeds like wheat, oats, beans, lentils and rice (called complex carbohydrates).
  • Fibre-containing foods are bran, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and fruits with skin. 
  • Quickly absorbing proteins and carbohydrates are ideal especially after your workout. You can have whey protein shake, dal (lentils), beans, meat, fish, milk, curd, cheese, chana, soybeans, yogurt, eggs, sprouts and spinach.

Avoid Sweets

Sweets and sugary foods will only last for 3-4 hours. You will feel hungry again after 3-4 hours. Moreover, these will turn into fat and increase cholesterol levels. If you feel like having sweets then have dates or banana. 

Avoid Junk

Eating junk will make you feel sick to not only workout but to perform ibadah. 

What to drink

Drink sufficient water between Iftar and bedtime to avoid dehydration. Keep a bottle of water beside you and sip while working out. Avoid beverages like energy drinks or soft drinks. You can have whey protein and milk instead of sugary drinks. 

Healthy Foods to Eat During Ramzan

Dates, Figs, Dal, Whey protein, Milk, Meat, Eggs, Green leafy vegetables, Chana, Beans, Milk, Curd, Cheese, Whole wheat and Brown rice

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling Ramadan.

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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