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:
-Wake up before sunrise for your morning 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).
-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.
-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.
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.
-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.
-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!