Ramzan, Lockdown and how to use the situation to improve our overall health

As we all know that the holy month of Ramzan has begun all over the world and during this holy month 1.8 billion Muslims around the globe endure a period of daily fast, Muslims worldwide abstain from food, drink, and sex, every day from dawn to dusk. It is also the time for big feasts from each evening’s iftar, or fast-breaking meal, to the three days of celebration that conclude the month, a festival known as Eid al-Fitr, which is characterized by visits to friends and neighbors, and family meals in restaurants and cafés.

Theoretically, as we are fasting throughout the day and only eating inside a small eating window we should be losing weight but it is not very uncommon to see people gain weight during the month of Ramzan and this happens as most of the people during Ramadan tend to eat large portions of food at iftar or grazing your way from iftar to suhoor on all the available Ramadan delicacies, and usually, during the month of Ramzan, the streets are flooded with Ramzan delicacies like jalebi, nihari, keema samosa, and Aflatoon which are phenomenally good on our palate but full of unhealthy fats and sugars which is not so good for our body.

It is obvious that for an average person who has fasted for an extended period and when he/she finds so many mouth-watering delicacies loathing around them all the time, in their home, on the streets and so many cafes and restaurants which set up a special menu for Ramzan it's very difficult for an individual for not to overindulge, which ultimately leads to weight gain and obesity.

BUT this year, Ramadan 2020 is a little different as most of the cafes, restaurants and street food won't be available due to the lockdown most of the people celebrating Ramadan will rely on home-cooked food for their Ramadan meals and this can be a blessing in disguise as people can use the opportunity to lose some extra weight that they are carrying and improve their overall health.

Ramadan is the Original intermittent fasting, for those who don’t know what intermittent fasting is Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. People are using it to lose weight and improve their health. Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and may even help you live longer. it’s not a diet in the conventional sense but more accurately described as an eating pattern. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week and Ramadan is very similar to 16 hours fast where we maintain zero calories for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour eating window, the only difference is we are not allowed to drink water in a Ramzan fast while intermittent fasting allows us to drink water or any fluid until we are maintaining zero calories but the water can be easily compensated by drinking a lot of water after iftar.

But one must keep in mind that to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting that we don’t go overboard with our calorie consumption after iftar and eat food which keeps us satiated provide us with all the macro and micronutrients which we require and if all these things are kept in mind we use the month of Ramzan to lose some body fat and even gain some lean muscle if combined with proper resistance training.

Here are some tips to help you develop a cleaner way to eat during Ramadan
*The diet should be a simple meal - not a feast - and should not differ substantially from your everyday diet.
*Hydrate before eating - Drink plenty of fluids such as water, freshly squeezed juice, or milk. This will prevent dehydration and provide your body with the essential fluids it needs.
*Eat your greens-Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and provide so many nutrients in so little calories. The more colorful your salad, the more health benefits it holds. It also provides a feeling of fullness, ensuring you eat less on your main dish.
*Choose good carbs - Your iftar meal should contain a source of carbohydrates, preferably complex. These include brown rice, whole grain bread, potatoes, or oats. Complex carbs provide a more stable and sustainable source of energy in addition to fiber and minerals.
*Incorporate lean protein - you should aim to eat high-quality, highly digestible protein and contain all the essential amino acids. Your body uses these to build and maintain muscle mass. Beef, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, fish, and poultry are all complete high-quality proteins. Choose lean proteins to get the benefits with little saturated fats. Include fish, skinless chicken or turkey, and low-fat dairy.
*Last but not the least Avoid foods high in fat, salt, and sugar

Whenever possible, stay away from heavy meals that have too many unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugar. When cooking, make your favorite Ramadan recipes healthier by stewing, baking, roasting, steaming, or grilling and avoid frying.

Here are some food which Indian Muslims eat a lot during Ramadan which they should absolutely avoid improving their health during Ramadan
*Deep-fried foods – fried samosas, fried chicken, fried spring rolls and fried potato chips
*High sugar and high-fat foods – Indian sweetmeats like gulab jamun, jalebi, badam halwa and barfi
*High-fat cooked foods – oily curries and greasy pastries

And here are some healthy alternatives to satisfy the cravings
*Baked samosas, baked spring rolls, oven-baked potato chips
*"Dry frying" – using a non-stick pan or non-stick food sprays
*Grilled or baked meat, chicken, fish as a healthier alternative – while retaining the flavor and taste of the food
*Desserts sweetened with stevia or honey, using yogurt or low-fat cream instead of full fat cream, Dry fruits, and nuts