I’ve been asked many times over the past few weeks on the so called ‘dilemma’ of sticking to an exercise program/routine during the month of Ramadhan. For the benefit of those who aren’t aware, Ramadhan is the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar and the entire month is spent fasting from dawn to dusk, by Muslims all over the world. Now, if you’re seriously into keeping fit, exercising, and weight training especially, you would know how important your meals are.. and therefore the ‘dilemma’. Many fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders especially, go through a tough time this month because of the fear and reality of losing precious muscle mass because they’re not able to eat as efficiently as they should.
However, what I believe can be common among those who fast today is that there is a tendency for people to gorge themselves with fried foods which contain huge amounts of calories as the person tries to ‘make up’ for any missed calories in those few short hours.Ask yourself right now.. are you going over your maintenance numbers or not? One obvious way to determine this without even having to whip out your calculator is if you are rubbing/patting your belly and having to loosen your belt after a meal.. you have obviously overeaten. Duhh!
Also, during the beginning of a long fasting period, you may lose a lot of water (which is natural), and therefore important to keep in mind that this is not an excuse to only stuff your face with more food just because your weighing scale tells you that you are lighter… because you havent lost any actual fat yet. It takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose one pound, and if you spread this out, that means if you eat 500 calories less than the maintenance you calculated above, you will lose one pound of body tissue in that week.
Notice that I said body tissue, and not bodyfat. This is because when your body begins digesting itself, it rarely distinguishes between fat and muscle. This is also known as muscle catabolism, which is the breakdown of muscle mass as a result of injury/immobilisation or poor dieting techniques. If you’ve ever been admitted/bedridden in the hospital for over a week.. you’ll know what I’m talking about.
You would be surprised to know that muscle is something your body desires to get rid of. Biologically speaking, its active tissue and it requires constant food and attention from your body to keep muscle tissue alive… in other words.. its quite a ‘hassle’ for your body to preserve muscle tissue, and your body would rather get rid of muscle than consume its own fat (which sits comfortably on your stomach or thighs or – insert problem fatty area here:_________… hehe – requiring very very little attention).
So here, once again, ‘reckless fasting’ for an extended period of time affects your body because relaxing too much, sleeping all day, and being lazy through most of the day when fasting really worsens muscle loss.
So people.. don’t get lazy, or discouraged because it’s the fasting month. Get smart, get active – and stay just the way you are.