I have been receiving several texts in DM to know how bodybuilding can be continued in the month of Ramadan… so do read this, till the end and if you find it helpful, share it with your friends…
Ramadan has uncountable benefits on psychological, physical and medical fronts, however as we all know if we do not deal with our diet protocols properly, it may interfere with our bodybuilding goals. But if we deal with it right, we can still have the benefits of this holy month on both our spiritual soul and body !!! Here’s how you can stick to your bodybuilding goals while fasting during Ramadan.
The most important suggestion that I could give at the beginning: “DO NOT STOP WORKING OUT”. Your body maintains muscle mass as long as it feels it is needed and when you stop exercising, will slowly lose back what it feels is unnecessary luggage that costs extra energy.
Even though you may or may not make gains in muscle mass during Ramadan, you can at least preserve what you have, if you keep your schedule up and protocol geared in.
The best time for workouts are after the fast breaking, 1-2 hours after the fast breaking would be ideal, this way you will have all the time till sehri (last meal time; an hour before sunrise) to eat.
During Ramadan you shouldn’t unnecessarily exaggerate training periods longer than actually required say 45 minutes to 90 minutes at the max.
You should lower your number of sets and your volume of exercises while focusing on preserving your strength. Focus on heavy compound movements that hit every muscle nice and quick. Intensity is key and not high volume, as high volume training requires lots of food, water and rest which is not a luxury you have during Ramadan. Remember you are not trying to build muscle and train like a bulking bodybuilder for hypertrophy. In Ramadan you are trying to preserve everything through a quick shot of time with compound movements. Hit it hard, do it with intensity, get it done and get out. Intensity is a Key.
I strongly urge everyone against cardio during Ramadan as you are already fasting and burning calories with weights. If you really must do a cardio workout and your heart is set on it, limit it to twice a week of 15 to 20 minutes of high intensity cardio. HIIT cardio will stimulate hormones and chemicals that in turn will help with fat burning and muscle building/preservation. Unless you want to look as weak and frail as a marathon runner, NO crazy cardio. Cardio will also further dehydrate you which is the last thing you want during summer Ramadan.
NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTATION:
You must eat the same. This means keeping your caloric consumption the same as your regular consumption levels when it is not Ramadan. This means that if your consumption level was 2,500 calories per day prior to Ramadan, it should remain at 2,500 calories per day during Ramadan. Because Ramadan is just a calendar month when compared to other 11 months of the year, and in order to achieve this, avoid extra calories from junk foods and the typical Ramadan festive meals.
BREAKING FAST- “IFTAAR”:
I prefer a Massive Shake ! I know it’s a human craving to eat something rather a lot many things because we have not eaten all day. But see we can’t really fit in more calories as when we do not eat for so long, stomach shrinks and when we start eating, we are usually full very quickly… So I rather prefer a massive nice rounded shake that fits my macro breakdown (Protein + Carbs + Fats)
I know you really want to eat something here, cause you haven’t eaten ALL DAY, but you can really fit in.
When breaking your fast, quickly absorbing proteins (such as Isolate whey, egg whites) and carbohydrates (such as dextrose, waxy maize, fruit juices, dates) are ideal especially when you plan to work out. You are depleted so whatever you eat will be quickly absorbed due to the heightened insulin sensitivity and your depleted state. It’s the same way as when eating post workout.
There can be along unending list of supplements to help us cope up with Ramadan effects, since there is a very short time to get all the nutrition from sunset to sunrise. You can rely on the protein shake and meal replacement shakes to help you with that as they are fast digesting without any bloating effects.
As an intra workout, I usually prefer mixing some BCAA, Glutamine and Electrolyte Powder with Simple Carbs from VITARGO, because this drink doesn’t need much of digestion and helps me replenish muscles with glycogen and amino acids.
Usually my meal post workout is the same as while breaking the fast. Fast digesting protein such as isolate whey with some simple carbs such as white rice and white potatoes or even a portion of fruits can be added. Post workout should consist of a high protein and high carbs meal, to replenish glycogen in the muscles and liver, and fill the muscles with amino acids needed for growth and maintenance. Just avoid any extra calories from junk foods, Sweets etc, as it becomes a common practice during Ramadan for the gym goers to relish on the festive sweets in the market.
Just have a full rounded meal before bed… Don’t be worried about carbs going to fat or some nonsense that is promoted on the gym floor, you pre bed meal should be a nice meal containing protein, carbs and fat, with the emphasis on SLOW releasing!!
SEHRI – Last meal; an hour before Sunrise
Have a massive meal… Make sure this meal has lots of complex carbs, lots of good fats, and lots of whole protein (i.e. no isolate whey shakes, rather prefer Casein Protein Shakes)… Then back to bed with a nice full belly.
Source of carbs (Rice, oatmeal, baked Sweet potato) and high protein (preferably slow digestive such as casein, fish ) with some fibers and healthy fat (peanut butter), the goal is to keep nutrition flow in your body as long as possible.
Drinking a lot of water during non fasting time is very important as well, especially in hot weathers, the body gets dehydrated during the fasting and you will need lots of water to compensate, make sure to drink at least 3 to 4 liters of water daily. Take a 2 litres water bottle to your workout and try to finish it by the end of the workout.
Working out 4 to 5 days a week max will be all you will need to maintain muscles during Ramadan. The rest days will be crucial to help recuperate and recover from the workouts and the fast.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP: Last and the most important
With Ramadan being in the Summer, the time between your Iftaar (break-fast) and your Sehri (early morning meal) may only be 7-8 hours. If you can’t take advantage of that full 7-8 hours between meals, think about taking a power nap during the day.
Energy levels will be low due to a lack of food, so you’ll need to leverage the energy you can get from sleep. This can then help drive your workouts. sleep at least 7-8 hours daily.
I honestly think, it is very much possible to lose weight, or maintain or even gain muscle with a plan like this.
The human body is pretty amazing ! Wish you all the happiest Ramadan !
In case you need a detailed diet protocol and customized workout schedules as per your targets, requirements and parameters for the month of Ramadan.
For all those who need a detailed diet protocol and customized workout schedules as per your targets, requirements and parameters for the month of Ramadan. You can reach me @
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