Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which this year ran from 10th July - 7th August, and is observed as a month of religious fasting. From dawn until sunset, Muslims will refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in sexual relations while increasing the amount of time spent offering prayers and reciting the Quran.

Mediterranean herbs for ramadan

For Muslims who are seeking to improve their health, fitness and physical appearance, Ramadan can be something of a metabolic disaster. During this month of fasting, while diet and exercise plans need not be thrown out altogether, they will need to undergo some significant changes in order to provide maximum damage limitation. It is obviously incredibly tough to take part in frequent fat-burning or weight training sessions when you have a limited window of time at the beginning and end of each day to ensure adequate nutritional intake and to hydrate the body.

There is also the issue of food supplements, which can help to ease some of the challenges faced by the body during this month of observance. To help you make it through the full length of the day and to reduce the frequency of food cravings, energy supplements and appetite suppressants are strongly recommended while Zinc and Magnesium supplements are advised to help improve the quality of sleep.

Slimming pills and fat-burners are also a great method for helping the body cope with the extra fat intake that usually takes place during evening meals. The only thing that Muslims need to watch out for when taking supplements is the gelatin capsules. While some gelatin capsules are derived from bovine (beef), a large number are derived from porcine (pork). Since the consumption of pork is strictly forbidden in Islam, Ramadan observers need to seek conformation from the manufacturer before committing to any one supplement. Most companies will also offer vegetarian capsules or tablets, both of which meet Islamic guidelines.  

You can also make sure you are prepared for the challenges of Ramadan by following these simple nutrition and exercise rules:

1. With the absence of a regular eating pattern, it is vital that you take part in some form of exercise over the period. Without some kind of gym training, the metabolism will slow even further and almost grind to a halt.

2. Ensure that both of your main meals contain an easily digestible form of protein, such as eggs, chicken and steak, some complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of essential fats, such as Omega-3, most commonly found in fish.

3. Drink as much water as you can when it is dark. To stay adequately hydrated, you should consume at least 3 litres of water between sunset and sunrise.

4. The best time for exercising is either early in the morning after your first meal or late at night after your evening meal.

5. Do not push as hard in the gym! The last thing that you want to do is to suffer a noticeable decrease in physical performance during your workout. To prevent this you should try to vary your routine and take part in less strenuous exercises. It is also sensible to keep all workouts less than one hour in length.