How To Optimise Your Training And Nutrition For Ramadan

It is challenging to train during Ramadan, but with a set plan it is possible.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 24 May 2017

Mindset Beginner
6 Mins

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While I’ve never observed a fast like this personally, I do have plenty of experience in helping clients maintain and sometimes even slightly progress their results during Ramadan.

Going without food or water for up to 18 hours is tough, so I admire anyone who can endure this especially as the weather is starting to pick up again.

What I tell all our clients prior to this is to have a plan. You don’t want to use it as an excuse not to train, as a month of no exercise and an inconsistent eating pattern can wreak havoc on any progress you may have made in the lead up to it.

Here are my top tips:


1. The best time to train is just after you break your fast.


However, this could mean it won’t be till 10pm till you get to the gym. Breaking the fast is typically a social occasion, so you might not want to miss out on this.

The second best time I think would be just before you break the fast. This will be tough, as you’ll be without food and water, so just focus on getting the work done.

That being said, a few years I had a client train with me at 8pm and set a deadlift PB after 18 hours of fasting (without water too), so sometimes the body is capable of cool things! For most though, err on the side of caution.

When I speak to many of my Muslim clients, some prefer this option as it allows them to be with their family for the various commitments that take place after the fast has finished, without having to worry about training.

2. Try to fit 2-3 feedings in the eating window available.


While 3 meals is probably the most optimal, many people find based off past experience that two is often easier on the digestive system.

Many report that after being without food and water (in particular) for so long, it makes them very full quickly. 

So if you’re doing two meals, you could do 9/10pm and 1/2am.

If you want to aim for three meals, then something like 9pm, 11pm and 1-2am would work well if fasting begins at 2.30-3 again.

If you’ve got a family dinner to break the fast, you may want to have a protein shake before/after to make it easier to reach your protein target.

Another thing to consider is many find having too many carbs at that first meal can make you feel sleepy, especially given it would have already been a long day and tiredness will have kicked in. A useful strategy to implement here would be to go lower-medium carbs in your first meal, and save the bigger serving sizes for later.

3. Focus on hydration.


More than anything, the inability to drink water is arguably the hardest part of Ramadan. When the fast is broken, focus on hydrating yourself as much and fast as possible. You want to aim to drink at least 2-3 litres of water in the 5-6 hours you’ve got.

You also need to be smart with water too. Based off my clients’ past experience, they’d recommend drinking a litre or so as soon as you break your fast, and then using it in between meals. What you want to avoid is drinking it with meals, as it can impair digestion, and make you feel very full.


4. Lower your volume in the gym.


During Ramadan, stay away from high rep sets and keep everything in the 5 to 12 rep range. You want to try get in and out of the gym in 30-45 minutes maximum. This isn’t the time to be cranking up the volume.

5. Don’t Panic


Many people go into Ramadan worried they’ll lose all their hard earned gains. This shouldn’t be the case. As long as you can reach your protein and calorie targets in the day while training 2 to 3 days a week, you’ll be able to at least maintain your gains.

Example Meal Plans


Ramadan isn’t the time to be focusing on muscle growth, so even if you’re in a lengthy building phase, I’d recommend using this time to eat in a small deficit or at maintenance.

Here’s an example meal plan I just wrote up for a client who’s looking for fat loss (timings are approximate, and will vary through the month & each year):

9.30pm – 60g whey isolate, 60g oats, 30g almond butter with the family meal (in the family meal try to stick to eating meat and salad. I know it’ll be hard to avoid the delicious sweets at this stage!)

11.30pm – 200g chicken, 55g rice, 2 tsp olive oil

1.30am – 200g 5% beef mince, 55g rice, ½ avocado

This works out to around 1750kcal, 175 grams of protein, 125g of carbohydrates and 60g of fat when considering the extras in the family meal too.

This is only an example, and can be easily modified to your goals. Some people also prefer opting for two liquid meals and one whole food meal to minimise digestive stress. That works well too.

Overall, what I’ve found is the first few days will involve a bit of experimentation on your behalf to see how you can function and perform best. Each year is slightly different, both in the timing, but also in your life itself, so you’ll need to experiment, pay attention to your body’s feedback and adjust accordingly. 

If you know anyone who’s practising Ramadan that’ll benefit from the advice above, please share this article with them.
Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-sellilng book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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