Ramadan Reset: Staying Fit during Ramadan | SoundVision.com

Ramadan Reset: Staying Fit during Ramadan

Although Muslims around the world are abstaining from food and water for almost the entire day for the month of Ramadan, many of us tend to gain weight during the month. It is a strange but sure phenomenon – while intermittent fasting is the new craze when it comes to weight loss, the Ramadan fast often means a few extra pounds or inches added to our waistline. But with a little focus and sound advice, we can actually stay fit during Ramadan. 

There are many reasons why Muslims may be gaining instead of losing weight during fasting. For starters, Ramadan is about coming closer to Allah, not trimming down. Many of us try to do minimal physical activities so that we do not end up dehydrated and weak during the day. After all, we need to reserve our energy to perform acts of worship. This is especially the case if Ramadan falls during the spring and summer months. Unfortunately, that causes the body’s metabolism to slow down and not burn as many calories as one would if they were actively exercising.

Another reason we may be packing on the pounds along with our good deeds is that we tend to overeat when it is time to break our fast. Our minds think that our stomach is starving, so we dive into the buffet table at the masjid iftar. Although chowing down on biryani, samosas, and naan tastes great, we should remember to be moderate in our eating. If we want to gain the maximum blessings of Ramadan, we must curb our appetite and focus on our worship. Allah says in the Quran,

“O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” 

(Surah Al-A’raf, 7:31)

Keep in mind that our stomachs are shrinking due to the fast, and overeating, even if it is less than what is normally consumed during the year, can cause serious discomfort. Also, since we break our fast late in the day, many of us do not have time to hit the treadmill to burn off the calories we just took in. Some of us may say, “I will just burn it off during the taraweeh prayer.” While we may be able to burn some, it may not necessarily be the amount required to keep the food we ate from turning into stored fat. Now imagine doing this for a period of 29 or 30 days. Add to this the partying and excessive feasting during Eid. No wonder many of us gain five to ten pounds during this month instead of shedding some weight!

Stay in Shape during Ramadan

Ramadan is a month not only to purify our hearts, but also our bodies. We should take advantage of this month to hit the reset button on our health and start fresh. 

Here are some ways we can stay in shape during Ramadan and model good behavior for our children and families without having to hit the gym so hard.

1. Wake up for suhur (the predawn meal).

It was reported by Anas ibn Malik that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Take the suhur as there is blessing in it.” 


Feeding the body, especially with healthy nutrients, kicks our bodies into gear early during the day. Likewise, we should increase our water intake to prepare for the day’s fast. Suhur will help us stay full and hydrated and provides us with the fuel we need to burn calories throughout the day. Remember to keep it wholesome and healthy. Stay away from having very heavy meals and keep things simple. 

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“How good is the believer’s meal of dates shortly before dawn.” 

(Abu Dawud)

Dates and water are more than enough to keep us feeling good throughout the day, but we can also add protein and whole grains to keep hunger at bay. Keep a bottle of water and a container of dates close to your bed in case you wake up with only a few minutes remaining left before fajr. Have hydrating foods during suhur and iftar like watermelon, cucumbers, and citrus fruits.

2. Stay active.

Continue with normal activities like walking, jogging, weight training, etc. If there is any fear of dehydration, then scale it back a bit, but do not just sit on the couch or lay in bed all day waiting for maghrib to break the fast. Live life as normal. Too often we become lazy during this month. However, we should remember this is the month to do more, both spiritually and physically. Stay away from intense or heavy workouts if your body is not accustomed to them but do enough to get blood circulating and some calories burning. There are many famous Muslim athletes that have fasted or are fasting and still practicing their respective sports during the month of Ramadan. Be sure to be on the lookout for them as they can be great examples of this point for our children. If they can do it, then we can certainly stay active during the day or after the fasting hours are over. Even a nice, brisk walk can make a huge difference in how we feel and how our bodies react to the fast.

3. Eat moderately.

Again, Allah says in the Quran:

“Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance but commit no excess therein.” 

(Surah Taha, 20:81)

Feeling deprived of food and drink can certainly drive a person to binge after they break their fast, but this takes away from the benefits of fasting. Anas Ibn Malik reported,

“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed (Maghrib). If he did not find fresh dates, then with dried dates. If there were no dried dates, then with a few sips of water.” 

(Abu Dawud)

Once you have prayed, try to refrain from grabbing a handful of everything on the table and putting it on your plate! Eat slowly and moderately. You will be surprised to find that our stomachs will be satisfied with just a bit of food. There is no need to taste everything at the iftar table – not only do we do ourselves harm, but we also do a disservice to our brothers and sisters who are waiting in long lines behind us for food. Just get what you need. The idea is to break our fast and eat a modest amount of food to give us some energy, not stuff ourselves until we can no longer stand. We should make it a habit to listen to your stomach, not our taste buds.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink, and one third for his breath.” 

(Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

Healthy eating habits begin when we are children. Babies eat when they are hungry and they usually stop when satisfied; it is their caregivers who introduce them to unhealthy substances like sugary drinks, candy, and processed snacks. Once they develop a liking to these, it can quickly spiral into cravings and aversions to more wholesome nutrition.  If we want our children to make good choices when it comes to food, then we should be presenting them with nutritious meals and snacks made with whole, organic foods. We can also model good behavior and manners when it comes to eating, reminding them about the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who advised that we be moderate with our consumption in accordance with what Allah has commanded in the Quran - to avoid overindulgence. 

4. Perform extra prayers.

The month of Ramadan is not just about fasting, but also about prayer. For many of us, it is the only time we are performing consistent, extra nightly prayers. Taraweeh can be an intense form of exercise if we are mindful of our posture and engaging our core during our standing, bowing, and prostrating. Of course, we should be concentrating on performing this act of worship for the sake of Allah. However, when we perfect our condition, we can also reap the physical benefits of prayer. Be conscious of the movements of the salah and pray with purpose. (See The Physical Benefits of Salah: More than Just a Form of Worship for some details.)

The month of Ramadan is a time to be active. Aisha reported:

“I have not known the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, to read the entire Quran in a single night, nor to spend the whole night in prayer until the morning, nor to spend an entire month in fasting, except during the month of Ramadan.” 


5. Get proper rest.

Our bodies have rights over us and need adequate rest. Allah says in the Quran:

“He is the One Who has made the night for you as a cover, and ˹made˺ sleep for resting, and the day for rising.” 

(Surah Al-Furqan, 25:47) 

Sleep is a blessing, but as in all things, we need it in moderation. We should not spend the whole day sleeping during Ramadan. If we are tired during the day, we can practice the Sunnah of kaylula, or the afternoon nap after dhuhr prayer. If you have young children, take the opportunity to nap with them. For those who are unable to do so, then try to get adequate sleep at night so that the body feels energized for another day of fasting. Sleep helps the body relax, reduces stress, and aids with digestion.

These steps are sufficient to keep us and our families fit and healthy during Ramadan. We can use this time to reset and recharge our health and faith. Let us take advantage of this blessed month to come closer to Allah with our acts of worship, purify our hearts, increase in good deeds, seek His mercy and forgiveness, and purify our bodies so that we can be in shape for the rest of the year.

Hernán Guadalupe is an Ecuadorian convert, engineer, and martial arts instructor. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, a Master's degree in Project Management from the University of Maryland, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Walden University. He is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating educational resources about Islam in Spanish, and a professor at the ICNA Dawah Academy.

Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is also the co-founder and Director of Hablamos Islam, (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.


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