There seems to be an overload of information about fasting and its impact on one’s state of health, especially now that the holy month of Ramadan is once again upon us. We often hear about the dos and don’ts of surviving a fast, as well as the many other claims of how fasting affects the human body. There are facts, yes, but a great majority of these information lack scientific basis and are mostly born out of faulty conclusions.
Riham Shamseddine, Senior Dietitian and Centre Manager for Right Bite, the proven expert in nutritional consultation and regarded as the pioneer in UAE’s healthy meal delivery service, dug into some of the most common myths associated with fasting to shed light on what is true and what is not and help people get a better understanding of how to stay healthy during Ramadan.
Myth #1: Fasting aids in weight loss.
Fasting is not meant to be for weight loss. Breakfast generally jump-starts metabolism and this helps us burn fat faster. When we are fasting, we are reducing our overall calorie intake; and when our body senses that the calories we absorb are less than our needs, it slows down our metabolism – conserving energy to remain efficient. This actually activates our body’s natural protective mechanism to resist what it perceives as starvation; it slows down our calorie-burning rate, which, at the contrary might lead to weight gain.
Myth #2: Eating a heavy meal for suhour will help you survive a whole day of fasting.
Suhour should not be heavy. Big meals loaded with calories and fat, regardless of the amount of food we consume, cannot compensate for energy lost during the long fasting hours. Even if we eat more than normal there is the tendency to feel low on energy on the next fasting day because of the deprivation of food. The key to surviving a whole day of fasting is eating the right foods. Suhour has to be balanced in carbohydrates, protein and good fat, i.e. egg omelette with vegetables and whole-grain slices of bread plus smoked salmon or a little bit of mashed avocadoes. You can find more ideas for healthy Suhour and Iftar recipes at www.rightbite.com. The most important thing is not to consume any fried foods and foods high in salt to prevent excessive thirst the next day.
Myth #3: Fasting removes toxins from the body.
The act of eating doesn’t make us have toxins in our body, but eating the wrong food items and consuming unhealthy meals are the main reasons why our body gets oxidative stress. For instance, if we are fasting, having simple sugars (like many Arabic sweets, cakes, juices), eating a lot of pastries (sambousek and other fried items) and consuming heavy meals, all of these will not help us remove the toxins in our body. The most important thing, whether fasting or not, is to always limit these unhealthy items, and to maintain a diet rich in antioxidants to fight free radicals that cause illnesses, malaise and diseases. Make sure to consume super foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, salmon, avocado etc. Fasting alone is not enough for toxins elimination; it has to be accompanied by a healthy and balanced diet.
Myth #4: Doing exercises/workouts when fasting is not safe.
Exercising during fasting can be safe if we are generally able to work out on empty stomach. The only problem with exercising while fasting is that our body is not receiving energy from the food, and what might happen is depletion of muscles to produce energy that is already stored in the muscles as glycogen. If we need to exercise during fasting, we can do it directly before Iftar and then replenish our energy needs from the food, or after consuming a light Iftar (1-2 hours post meal) and then again have a post-workout meal rich in protein and carbohydrates to replenish our energy levels. Of course, it is also imperative to always seek the advice of your health care provider or talk to Right Bite clinical dietitians prior to starting any exercise routine.
For this special month, Right Bite, best known for its gourmet healthy meal plans, offers a Ramadan Package to help you achieve a healthy and safe Ramadan fasting. As with their regular programs, the Ramadan Package is also customized according to a customer’s dietary requirements to ensure the same maximum health benefits.