As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, many questions surface about the health benefits of fasting and how it could impact your body.
If you are not familiar with the practice of Ramadan, fasting is one of the many traditions or rituals that is carried out over 30 days.
Here is a quick definition:
A fasting person is not allowed to eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. Depending on the region where you live, you might be fasting between 6 to 17 hours per day.
In this article, we will discuss the specific effects fasting has on weight loss and your body composition, focusing on fasting during Ramadan. As well as common mistakes made during the holy month.
How fasting in Ramadan leads to weight loss?
By excluding all foods during the fast, your body is forced to look at ways to supply energy for use throughout the day. The body achieves this by altering its hormones and liberating the energy in your fat stores.
When no food is consumed between dawn and sunset ones Insulin levels stay low. Outside the holy month, most people eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This means that they will experience 3 large spikes in insulin (as insulin is released when one consumes carbs and/ or protein at a meal). During Ramadan because of the fast, this does not happen. When the body has low insulin for a period of time it signals the body to burn its fat stores for fuel. This leads to fat loss!
Another surprising health benefit of fasting during Ramadan.
Fasting produces a process known as Autophagy! This is where the body breaks down and essentially eats old or sick cells of the body – to generate energy. This process occurs in all cells from an old skin cell to even a pre-cancer cell.
When autophagy occurs in the intestinal lining, the gut can get cleaned up and optimal functioning is more likely to occur.
In addition, when your digestive tract is empty, the composition of your gut microbiome can improve, leading to a better functioning gut! A health gut microbiome is essential for great digestion and health.
Muscle Growth during Ramadan
Counterintuitively the practice of fasting during Ramadan could also promote muscle growth when associated with the right workout routine. Prolonged fasts cause a spike in a hormone called Growth Hormone. And as the name suggests this hormone is involved in the muscle-building process! We recommend checking out the work of amanahfitness who is a big advocate of health and fitness, providing culturally-sensitive health solutions.
At Body Measure, we recommend using DEXA to measure your body composition to know exactly the fat and muscle loss and ensure that weight loss is sustainable post the month of Ramadan.
- Not optimizing a healthy eating plan during eating windows of Ramadan.
- Not participating in a structured exercise plan.
- Not having a nutrition and exercise plan after the month of Ramadan.
- Not accurately tracking.
Who should not fast?
While the vast majority of people can fast safely during Ramadan, there are still some contraindications to this practice.
One classic contraindication of fasting is having a concurrent medical condition that is being treated by a doctor. Before attempting to fast, you need to speak with your primary care physician or nutritionist to make sure that fasting will not exacerbate your condition.
Patients with diabetes may be particularly susceptible to the complications of fasting. Since you will not be consuming any food, your blood glucose levels may drop, which leads to many side effects, including distractibility and generalized fatigue.
Weight loss rebound
The weight loss that occurs during Ramadan can be temporary, and when you stop fasting after the month ends, some people can return to their pre-Ramadan weight and some may actually rebound and get a little heavier. The sudden return to your old dietary habits can easily lead to rapid weight gain. In addition, if there is a significant drop in muscle mass it may slow your metabolism which can lead to an increase in putting on fat!
In summary, there are many benefits of fasting Ramadan. If done correctly, fasting can lead to significant health benefits!
Fasting Ramadan can offer you several health benefits, especially when it comes to weight loss.
We hope that this article highlighted the potential benefits of fasting, remember if you want to optimize your success of fat loss during Ramadan, you may want to use our Body Measure metabolism tracking services. This will allow you to track your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition through DEXA.
Learn more about this service by clicking on this link!