In these final blessed 10 days of Ramadan, you need plenty of energy to earn the rewards and power your body through long nights of worhsip! Don’t worry- here are 5 easy sure-fire tips to fuel your way through Ramadan: eat the most energy-boosting foods, drink water, walk to refresh yourself, eat suhoor and be mindful at iftar!
At iftar and suhoor, skip the sugary and deep-fried foods if you are looking for energy! Instead, choose the most energetic foods: beets, watermelon, and vitamin B12- rich foods, to power you through the night. Beets have been shown to significantly improve endurance by increasing oxygen levels in the brain. This makes them a perfect food at iftar time, because they will improve your performance and minimize fatigue during taraweeh prayers. Watermelon provides valuable hydration and antioxidants. Vitamin B-12 is an integral nutrient in energy production in the body, and is found in animal foods like salmon, tuna, cod, yogurt, cheese, milk, and eggs.
Drinking water has been proven to improve performance and mood! Drinking water- especially cold water- maintains proper brain function and prevents it from shrinking (since it’s made up of 75% water)! Get much-needed electrolytes by adding lemon or cucumber to your water and prevent dehydration, replenish lost nutrients, and improve taste. (Water with lemon is especially beneficial at suhoor because it makes you more alert, making it the perfect beverage to keep you going during your work/school day.)
WALK to boost your energy! Starting to feel slugging or tired in the night? Instead of sitting down to take a break with your phone or talk to a friend, take a short walking break in the lobby of your masjid, or outside in the cool fresh night air! During Ramadan, Muslims seem to take our fasts as an excuse to move around as little as possible. You will actually feel MORE energetic if you make sure to walk frequently during the day, and shake out your tired muscles!
Try not to spend the whole fasting day sitting, either. Recent research finds that a sedentary lifestyle and sitting too much is very dangerous for your health If you are staying in the masjid, or even during the day and between naps, walk around the perimeter of your house or masjid, and take deep, steady breaths. Swing you arms as you walk, and tip your head, looking up slightly while you walk. Walk for 5-7 minutes, and repeat this every hour until Maghrib. You will feel MUCH more awake, alert and energetic when it comes time for your serious late-night ibadah, guaranteed inshAllah!
Eat Suhoor! Suhoor is like breakfast during Ramadan, but it’s an even more important meal- because it’s the ONLY meal of the day! So you know you need to eat suhoor, but what should you eat? Get the most bang for your buck by concentrating on “good” fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds, and “good” carbohydrates like brown rice, oats (an energy-booster), and whole grain bread.. Ideal suhoor dishes that will maintain your stamina throughout the day include egg and avocado on whole grain bread, brown rice cereal with almond milk, oatmeal with whole milk, and an orange and banana smoothie with chia seeds and almond butter. These yummy foods are filled with nutrients like fiber and monounsaturated fats to keep you satisfied.
Be Mindful at Iftar. Be careful on what you eat at iftar time, because your excitement of being able to eat and being around friends and family can entice you to grab anything that can fit in your mouth and be swallowed. Focus on eating protein foods at iftar, to maintain and build your muscle mass. A (beet) salad is the perfect choice: salad with lettuce, cheese, nuts, and beets keeps you hydrated and full with healthy proteins. Choose the healthy options from among popular iftar items; which are mixed fruits (especially watermelon) and chole (garbanzo beans mixed with herbs and spices and served with yogurt). Greek yogurt is another ideal iftar food, since it’s extra high in protein. Choose the B-12 rich seafoods mentioned early as your proteins, over red meat. Why are the fried samosas and greasy pizza served at iftar parties so bad for you? The “bad” fats in those foods actually signal your body to slow down and limit physical activity! Therefore, you run the risk of being too tired for taraweeh prayers, or worse yet, suhoor and Fajr prayers the next morning. Also, keep your portions small; eat a few small meals throughout the evening, and avoid binge-eating at iftar!
Practice these 5 easy habits and you are sure to have steady energy throughout the blessed month of Ramadan inshAllah!