Exercising during Ramadan in Malaysia - Part 1

  • by Ashley Chong

Ramadhan is coming soon and some might be wondering, how do I train in Ramadan in Malaysia?

This will be a part 1 of a 2 part series feature by theKeiShow and Bigbigplace for those who will be observing fasting starting next Monday.

While Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and devoting more time to religious aspects, it doesn’t mean you should stop training or exercising. For serious athletes or hardcore enthusiast, it will be the time where you will be slowing down a little bit, and train a little differently.

Why should you train during fasting month?

Before we start discussing how to exercise during Ramadan, there are a lot of reasons to continue exercising during the fasting month.
Exercising during Ramadan helps you to:

  • Build character, mental strength, and discipline, something we can always use more of.
  • Restore insulin sensitivity and improve nutrition planning, to fuel your body correctly during your workout phases.
  • Create higher growth hormone output during the fasts.
  • Allow training/diet to run in the background and to focus on higher priorities.

Is it safe to train during fasting since you don’t eat or drink?

For those who have been reluctant to exercise during Ramadan, the news is it's completely healthy to work out while you fast. Exercising and fasting can go together without causing any harm to the body. In fact, according to specialists, exercising while fasting may actually keep our brain, neuro-motors and muscle fibers biologically young. 

When should I train during Ramadan?

The biggest change that you will need to do is your training time. While most people have a preference to train in the morning or at night normally, training in Ramadan means you need to adapt to when you can replenish your nutrition and rehydrate yourself optimally.

There are three possible suggestions to train during Ramadan:

Before Sahur:

Training before Sahur (morning meal) might be the most optimal time if you are a morning person as you can replenish your protein and nutrients levels directly before you start fasting. The downside is, you need to be able to wake up earlier (maybe around 3-4 AM) and sacrifice a little bit of sleep.

Just before (Iftar) Berbuka:

Some prefer to train an hour before Iftar (Breaking fast). This is generally good for a low-intensity workout rather than HIIT training or weight training. After a long day, your carbohydrate levels and fluid will be very low, so you won’t be producing enough energy to get the best out of your training. Be sure to drink a lot of water during Iftar, so that you replenish the water that you have lost. Remember that up to 70% of your body is made of water.

After Terawih:

Another healthy option to train is right after Terawih prayers. According to studies, it is best to wait one or two hours after a meal before starting to do a strenuous workout. This will give you more time to digest the food that you have consumed during Iftar. The downside is, for the morning person, you will be extending your evening a little bit longer.

During Ramadhan, you need to be able to eat accordingly to fuel your workouts. Eat something with simple sugars like bars, fruits, and kurma to fuel your workout needs. Post workout, get enough protein or recovery drinks to ease your needs.

Caution: The best time to do a heavy weight-training workout is NOT while in fasting state. Aim for a lower intensity workout such as lighter lifts or focus on low intensity running if you plan to workout before berbuka.

But keep in mind, Ramadan is a unique time of year so try not to get too caught up in your training and what you should be doing in the gym.

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