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Healthy, balanced diet crucial during Ramadan fasting

Fasting during Ramadan is an opportunity to reset your metabolism and reduce extra weight by adopting a healthy, balanced diet.

As Ramadan falls this year during the hot ,long days of summer, the body loses significant amounts of salt and water in form of sweat and urine during physical activity.

Nutrition expert Amad Sobhy recommends eating both cheese and watermelon to compensate.

“They contain glucose and amino acids, which compensate for excessive loss of salt and fluids,” he said, adding that consuming moderate amounts of salt does not cause health problems.

To avoid burnout during fasting, “complex carbohydrates” or slow digesting foods at sohour, according to Sobhy, can keep you feeling fuller longer. Barley, beans, lentils and oats contain carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars and fiber.

Eating potatoes with their skins still on is another way to avoid feeling hungry, says Afaf Ezzat, another nutrition expert.

“Boiled and baked potatoes with skin on are healthier than fried, as both reduce cholesterol levels and maximize weight loss as well,” Ezzat says.

She adds that all fruits are good for sohour, especially apples with skin, which also help you feel satiated during fasting.

Drinking a sufficient amount of water and natural juices, such as roselle and tamarind, is a must to avoid dehydration and for detoxification of the digestive system.

Sobhy advises people who are used to drinking caffeinated beverages to cut down their consumption to a cup of coffee per day. Caffeine causes an increase in urination, leading to the loss of valuable mineral salts, which induces thirst. Decaffeinated green tea is recommended as an alternative to boost your metabolism and speed up the fat-burning process.   

Spicy and fried food should be limited as they can cause indigestion, heaviness in the stomach and increase cholesterol level, Ezzat says.

She urges people to replace fat-rich desserts with herbal fats extracted from olive and nuts such as almonds, peanuts and walnuts. Muhallabia and apricot are other low-calorie desserts that protect from cardiovascular diseases and can lower blood cholesterol level.

To remain healthy during Ramadan, eat a balanced iftar meal that contains all food groups.

“Choose only one of the carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, potato or bread, to provide the body with sufficient energy without putting on fat at the same time,” Ezzat says.

“Fish, meat and poultry are the best sources of protein that supply all amino acids your body requires to effectively function," Ezzat says. They also contain nutrients including magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and iron. 

Milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese are essential for iftar as they are source of protein and calcium.

“Yogurt is a must for sohour because its live bacteria helps in digestion,” Ezzat says.

Fuul muddamas is the best option for sohour.

“Besides keeping you stuffed during the day, it is a protein booster and contains minerals and nutrients that are essential to keeping your body fit,” Ezzat concludes. 

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