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You Can’t Spell “Fasting” Without “F-A-T”

You Can’t Spell “Fasting” Without “F-A-T”:Tips To Avoid Weight Gain During Ramadan

1.What happens to weight during Ramadan?

Maintaining weight happens only to those who maintain their diet and do not exceed food on iftar and suhur.
A small weight loss is a common, but not a universal change during Ramadan. They lose on average about a kilogram of weight over 4 weeks, and the lost weight is quickly regained. However, the person is very likely to pack on a few more kilos during Ramadan for several reasons:
1-Increased calorie intake: People gain weight when their energy intake exceeds their energy output. In other words, this happens when a person consumes calories more than he/she burns.
2-Reduced activity during Ramadan
3-Lower metabolic rate As your body undergoes quite a drastic change from receiving food and water on a regular basis to not receiving anything for an extended amount of time; it understandably causes a shock to the system. Your body becomes unsure whether food will be available or not so it tries to reserve as much energy as possible by slowing down your metabolism.
A slow metabolism means that the food is converted into energy much slower and your body will store fat rather than burn it so this will lead to weight gain during Ramadan and particularly after Ramadan when normal eating habits are resumed
4-Deprivation all day leads to overeating after 7 p.m. or so which is counterproductive as a weight-loss regimen. Fasting can make you very hungry and after hours of being without food, you tend to absolutely binge out

2.What to do in order to boost our metabolism and burn more calories?

It is important that during Ramadan you undertake measures to counteract the effects that fasting has on slowing down your metabolism by keeping it as normal as possible which can be done through these ways:

•Don’t skip your suhoor. Have your suhoor to spread the energy intake on different meals and in order to limit the hours of fasting this will make you feel less hungry and binge out less during iftar.
•Divide your food into several meals. Have your Suhoor meal and divide iftar into an evening snack and dinner or dinner and snack
•Light exercise as this can speed up your metabolism. People should do some physical activity of any kind depending on their health status and preferences. Walking for thirty minutes after iftar is recommended.
•Adequate sleep which is an important point but make sure not to exceed the needed hours.

3.What to do in order not to gain weight?

•You don’t have to stop eating or avoid going to Iftars try not to break your fast with a feast because if you are not careful, food eaten during the pre-dawn and dusk meals can cause some weight gain.
•Have normal quantities of food from the major food groups: bread and cereal, milk and dairy product, fish, meat and poultry, bean, vegetable and fruits.
•The diet in Ramadan should be as normal as possible and should not differ very much from your normal diet.
•Suhoor : Have a moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours that’s why it’s important to include slowly-digesting foods in the suhoor like complex carbohydrates
•Iftar: is the meal which breaks the day’s fast. The meal should remain a meal and not become a feast!
•Avoid eating too many carbohydrates. Most Iftar dinners are composed of tons of carbohydrates. Pasta, rice, bread, sweets and sugars are the most common culprits. Try to avoid these. No, your host will not be offended!
•Have fiber-rich foods. They are digested slowly which include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains, seeds, vegetables such as green beans and almost all fruits such as apricots, prunes, figs, etc.
•Add enough protein into all of your Ramadan meals to feel full until the next meal, this will prevent you from eating too many sweets. Good sources of protein include fish, skinless chicken, lean meat cuts, and legumes (chickpeas and beans), nuts and seeds.
•Fried foods and foods containing too much sugar such as sweets can cause weight problems.
•Drinking sufficient water between Iftar and sleep will make you feel full
•Remember that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full, put small portions on your plate first.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon


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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian