Posted by Fahad AlYehya | Core Fitness – Kuwait

I would first like to apologize for my long absence from the world of blogging and greatly appreciate all my supporting readers for being patient and understanding. Moreover, I’d also like to send my sincerest apologies to those of you who have emailed me but haven’t recieved a reply. I’d like to thank you all for putting up with my crap and style of writing, which by-the-way will only get worse. I’ve stated this a million times. If you’re not cool with my writing nature, then don’t read me. I should warn you, though; you’re going to miss out on some epic nutrition advice.

Before I begin preaching, I’d like to clarify how this guide will work:

1) I’ll list down all the basics of Ramadan eating and training to provide a brief understanding for the readers.

2) The reader will then post his/her goal, physical stats (height, weight, bf % if available) and Ramadan lifestyle (exercise timing, family gatherings, favorite/worst foods, etc).

3) I will then reply with a customized optimal plan for that reader’s goal

4) Other readers/haters who are too lazy to comment/hate can read/[go-kill-themselves] the Q&A’s below so that they may personally implement on their own.

The Q&A below will serve as a guide to unanswered questions anyone might have about Ramadan. Please refrain from emailing me since the goal of this post is to publicly educate through the written facts/opinions/experiences and the associated comments.

Credibility and Experience

It took me around 3 Ramadans to fully understand how my body works when it comes to losing fat and maintaining muscle when fasting. From eating small portions of food to indulging in every calorie dense food item, I’ve realized the only way to survive Ramadan is by doing the exact same thing.

1st Attempt: I dieted in Ramadan, performing 30-60 minutes of cardio 2 hours prior to breaking my fast, and weight lifting 1 hour after a light futoor, followed by a light dinner and a light suhoor.

Result: Managed to lose 10kg in 1 month.

Damage: Managed to lose a lot of my hard earned muscle. Fail.

2nd Attempt: I gorged on endless calories, weight-lifted with less intensity and did absolutely no cardio.

Result: Gained 5kg.

Damage: 5kg of fat; but I kept my muscle. Epic fail.

3rd Attempt: Dieted 3 months prior to Ramadan (low calorie intake, 60 minutes of cardio, 30-45 minutes of weight-lifting). Stuck to the same level of calorie intake and workout-intensity in Ramadan, eliminated cardio completely.

Result: Nothing. Kept my muscle, maintained my superb condition.

Damage: Refer to the above. Boo-Yeah.

Brief Highlights of Ramadan and How they may Benefit/Hinder You

– Fasting will start at around (and an average of) 3:30-4:00 am, a period VERY critical for all of us, but significantly to those who want to maintain muscle mass. You may want to get in as much water as possible 15 minutes prior to eating, then indulging in a select amount/content of food depending on your physical goal.

– Do not indulge in any vigorous physical activity from 4:00 am to 2 hours prior to breaking your fast. Severe dehydration is not a laughing matter and should be avoided as much as possible. To further stimulate fat-loss, a 30-60 minute cardio session 1-2 hours prior to breaking your fast will do wonders. For those who want to maintain muscle-mass, refrain from weight-lifting while fasting. I cannot stress how STUPID it is to be weight-lifting when your body is deprived of much needed nutrients. Moreover, low-intensity cardio 30-60 minutes prior to fasting plus a few exercises for your midsection will keep fat storage at bay.

– Content is VERY critical when breaking your fast and will be explained below in detail and in accordance to each individual’s goal.

– If you’re planning on gaining muscle mass while fasting then I’d suggest you stop. The time between breaking your fast and fasting is too short, and stuffing your face with huge amounts of food within that time frame will only widen your waist. Focus on NOT losing the hard-earned muscle you’ve exhaustively built throughout the year.

– Remember how you trained when you built those 5kg of muscle? Train the EXACT same way in Ramadan. Lowering the intensity and poundage would only prove counterproductive.

– Below you’ll find a “go pray and come back” in between breaking your fast and eating a solid meal. This short time period will serve you well by minimizing hunger.

Goal #1: Fat-Loss

1) As stated above, a 30-60 minute session of cardio (abdomen exercises every-other-day are optional) 1-2 hours prior to breaking your fast will help boost your metabolism and burn unwanted stubborn fat stores. Since you’re pretty much on an empty stomach, stored fat is readily burned when performed at this time, ensuring moderate to minimal dehydration depending on cardio intensity.

2) Futoor: Since blood-sugar levels are low and our bodies are dehydrated, opt to drink 1 glass of water followed by 3, 5, or 7 dates. (Odd numbers of dates in accordance to Al-Sunnah).

a. Option 1: Drink 1 glass of water plus 5 dates, go pray, come back and indulge in a green salad plus a moderate portion of lean chicken, red meat or fish (5-6oz)

b. Option 2: Drink 1 glass of water, go pray, come back and indulge in 1-cup of Harees (plus 1 tbsp of Cinnamon sugar, also known as “darseen”) or Yireesh, a green salad and a small portion of lean chicken, red meat or fish. (3-4oz)

c. Option 3 (Optimal): 1 glass of water, 7 dates and a glass (250ml) of Skimmed Laban.

3) Dessert: Since Ramadan season is well-known for releasing creatures devouring ridiculous amounts of sweets, wait 3 hours after breaking your fast and indulge in a moderate sized dessert plus a cup of Green, White or Black Tea OR 3-5 shots of Arabic Coffee. Feel free to ask me which desserts to eat, including the preferred quantities.

4) Dinner – 3 hours after the dessert above, this meal has to be super light since Suhoor (pre-fasting meal) will be somewhat heavy:

a. Option 1: Moderate bowl of vegetable, lentil or any non-creamy soup, plus a small to moderate amount of lean chicken, red meat or fish.

b. Option 2: Large bowl of green salad plus a moderate amount of lean chicken, red meat or fish

c. Option 3 (I personally don’t prefer this): 1 Fruit plus 10 pieces of raw almonds, walnuts or cashews.

5) Suhoor – This meal has to last you at least 6 hours after you’ve consumed it. This does not imply that you ingest copious amounts of food. The foods below are proven to be “time-released”, thus staying in your stomach and satisfying your hunger for a minimum of 6 hours.

a. Option 1: 1 glass (250ml) of low-fat Laban with 3 dates.

b. Option 2: 1-cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of berries.

c. Option 3: 200g of lean red meat (filet mignon, tenderloin) plus a bowl of green veggies.

6) Water Intake: Drink as much water as humanly POSSIBLE. Be sure to consume water 15 minutes prior and after any meal or snack. Consume 1 liter of water in between meals and snacks to ensure that you’ve fulfilled your H20 quota.

Goal #2: Muscle-Mass Maintenance

1) 30-60 minute session of LOW-INTENSITY cardio plus abdomen exercises 1 hour prior to breaking your fast if and only if you have a few kilos of fat lying around.

2) Futoor:

a. Option 1: 1 glass of water plus 5 dates, go pray, come back and consume 1-cup of Harees (plus 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon sugar) or 1-cup of Yireesh, a bowl of green salad, plus a moderate amount of lean chicken, fish or red meat. (5-6oz)

b. Option 2 (Only choose this option if you have a hard time gaining muscle mass): 1 glass of water, 7 dates, 1 glass of low-fat Laban (I don’t recommend this unless you’re OK with bloating), go pray, come back and consume 1-cup of Harees (plus 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon sugar) or 1-cup of Yireesh, a bowl of green salad, plus a moderate amount of lean chicken, fish or red meat. (5-6oz)

c. Option 3 (this is mine, which means it’s optimal): 1 glass of water, 1-cup of Harees (2 tbsp of Cinnamon sugar), go pray, come back and consume a bowl of green salad, plus a moderate amount of lean chicken, fish or red meat. (5-6oz)

3) Workout: Personally, I want to get my workout out of the way, so I hit the weights 2.5 hours after breaking my fast.

a. Option 1 (this is mine): 1-cup of plain black coffee 2 hours after futoor, followed by 1-2 scoops of Whey protein 15-30 minutes after coffee consumption, then I’d hit the weights.

b. Option 2: 1-cup of plain black coffee or black tea 1-1.5 hours after futoor then you may opt to weight-lift.

c. Option 3: If you’re working out a lot later than 2.5 hours, then get in another meal 2.5 hours after futoor, which I will prescribe to you after we investigate how your daily regimen.

4) Intra-Workout: WATER, WATER AND MORE WATER! Shoot for at least 1.5 liters in a workout.

5) Post-Workout:

a. Option 1 (mine): 2 scoops of Whey protein

b. Option 2: 1-cup of Yireesh or Harees (with 2 tbsp of Cinnamon sugar) plus a moderate amount of lean chicken, fish or red meat.

c. Option 3: Scroll down and suggest your meal plan.

6) Dinner: 2.5-3 hours after the meal above. (1 hour if you consumed a protein shake)

a. Option 1 (mine): Moderate amount of lean chicken, red meat or fish plus a green salad or steamed veggies.

b. Option 2 (hardgainers): Repeat “Option 2” in the post-workout bullet point above.

c. Option 3: Inquire with me.

7) Suhoor: This is the meal that’ll save your hard-earned muscle. Make sure it’s at least 2 hours after dinner and 30 minutes before you begin fasting.

a. Option 1 (mine): 1-2 scoops of Casein protein powder, 3 boiled eggs and 10g of Psyllium Husk.

b. Option 2: 1-2 cups of low-fat cottage cheese and 1-3 boiled eggs.

c. Option 3: 300g of lean red meat (filet mignon, tenderloin) plus a side order of green veggies.

d. Option 4: Ask this guy! [raises 2 thumbs and points to himself.]

8) Water Intake: Drink as much water as humanly POSSIBLE. Be sure to consume water 15 minutes prior and after any meal or snack. Consume 1 liter of water in between meals and snacks to ensure that you’ve fulfilled your H20 quota.

9) Don’t waste calories by performing cardio post-workout. You need those nutrients to hold on to muscle.

Goal #3: UBER-SUPER-DUPER FAT GAIN!

1) Do absolutely no cardio or any physical activity prior to breaking your fast. Sleep all day and watch those ridiculously dramatic TV shows.

2) Futoor:

a. Option Infinity: Consume every dish available to you until you go into a diabetic coma, causing you to rapidly crash and sleep for 1-2 hours.

3) Dessert – You’ve crashed and you need energy to pick you back up.

a. Option 1: 1-10 cups of coffee or tea with 1-10 tablespoons of sugar and half a cake.

b. Option 2: 1-20 cups of coffee or tea with 1-20 tablespoons of sugar and half a cake, 5-10 pieces of “sab el gafsha” and a small serving of Kanafa.

c. Option 3 (Optimal): 1-a billion cups of coffee or tea with 1-infinity tablespoons of sugar, an entire cake, 20-50 pieces of “sab el gafsha”, a large serving of Kanafa and your 30-50kg nephew or son.

d. Option 4: You’re still sleeping from devouring an entire dish of rice and Harees from Futoor.

4) Dinner:

Option 1: This meal’s pretty much a deal breaker since you’re most probably at a large gathering, serving every exotic and calorie-dense dish known to man. “I’m fasting tomorrow! So what the hey! Bring it on SON!”

Option 2: Hardee’s delivery. Here’s a fun fact: Hardee’s has more than doubled the amount of delivery men in a 3 year span. Coincidently, the rate of obesity in Kuwait has also more than doubled within 3 years. In conclusion, McDonald’s doesn’t deliver and KFC has pathetically the slowest delivery service. The blame must be on Hardee’s.

5) Suhoor: You’re in triple-diabetic coma from the dinner above and you’ve decided to sleep it off and skip Suhoor since, to you, that means “no Suhoor means less calorie intake! SWEET! Fat-loss without actually trying! I think these cool ripples on my stomach are my abs!”

6) 10 am the next morning: You’re 1 hour late to work, but you can’t completely grasp why you’re hungrier than a group of hippies after they’ve hot-boxed themselves smoking endless amounts of marijuana and receiving an awesome dose of the munchies. FML.

Personally, I wouldn’t wish the Uber Super Duper Fat Gain Diet on anyone. I do recommend options one and two, and I think your body (and Allah!) would too. Remember the goal of Ramadan is not to consume copious amounts of food as a reward for not eating from sunrise to sunset, but what the hell. If you want to do it, I won’t stop you.

Posted by Fahad AlYehya | Core Fitness – Kuwait