“Fasting all day and over-eating at night can easily take a toll on our physical health and our weight if we’re not sensible about what we eat and when we eat,” says Sydney-based nutritional consultant and celebrity ‘Diet Doctor’, Moodi Dennaoui. “From lack of hydration to nightly food comas post-iftar, a lack of disciple and planning can end up presenting real challenges.”
Well-known and well-regarded in the fitness and diet industry, Dennaoui has helped numerous A-list actors, athletes and sports people put on weight and lose it healthily and has a reputable international following. He was a finalist in the 2020 Australian Muslim Achievement Awards.
Here are his tips, eating and exercise plans for taking good care of your body during Ramadan:
- Plan a nutritious suhoor to ensure good levels of hydration and to sustain energy levels across the day.“What we do in the morning is crucial not just for how we feel throughout the day, but also our ability to maximise the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat and to avoid bloating and gastrointestinal distress.”
- “If you are on a strict fitness regime, the ideal time to train to maximise fat burning is in the final hour of fasting. The body is so depleted of glycogen that you will be tapping into fat as your fuel source far more effectively. If this isn’t possible, train two hours after eating one of the suggested meals below.
- If you are training after breaking fast in the evening, wait 1.5-2 hours.
- Dilute BCAA’s and Electrolytes in the water you SIP (not skull) between Maghreb and Fajr.
- Don’t overdo it. Avoid extreme fatigue. Exercise should energise and uplift you, even when you feel unmotivated.
- Recover Naturally from exercise. Below are 6 ways to do it:
i) Reduce Exercise Time
Instead of a long gym session, start with 20 minutes resistance training, followed by 20 minutes cardio and that’s it. (If you need to cut exercise time for religious commitments, you will need a personalised strategic plan to maintain your fitness levels)
ii) Focus on Macronutrients
Eat to replenish. Ensure you’re getting the right ratio of carbs to protein to fat for your fitness goals. As we age, nutrition plays an even greater role in our metabolism and recovery. Carefully selecting carbs in a controlled and supervised way is important for those with insulin resistance or metabolic disorder.
iii) Add More Recovery Days
I often workout 5-6 days per week but sometimes it’s every other day to ensure I get a day to recover properly from each workout, particularly if partaking in multiple forms of exercise. On off days, do yoga, take an ice bath and/or foam roll your muscles to assist recovery.
iv) Eat and Drink Natural Anti-inflammatories
A potent natural anti-inflammatory is turmeric. Fruits high in antioxidants & flavonoids like blueberries are also great natural anti-inflammatories. All fruits (& vegetables) offer more pros than cons.
v) Consider Adding Supplements
There are many supplements with high bioavailability that may help improve circulation and metabolism and reduce inflammation. As cellular functions naturally decline supplements play an important role in extending functionality. An integrative physician, nutritionist or naturopath will ensure you choose what’s right for you.
vi) Plenty of Rest is Essential.
Engage in relaxation via meditation, yoga & mindfulness.
Going to bed early to get more sleep and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated aids faster recovery and optimal health.
- Fitness tracking apps can help monitor progress.
- Finally, remember that people with diabetes, illness, pregnancy or breastfeeding should not fast.
MOODI’S suggested eating and training plan
Suhoor Smoothies provide a nutritious start to a day’s fasting
Salmon, Grass Fed Beef or Lamb (cooked with coconut or macadamia oil), Avocado, Dark green vegetables (broccoli, Bok Choy, green beans, asparagus, spinach, kale) OR Salad OR Cottage cheese or Goats Milk Yoghurt mixed with Almonds + Chia seeds + Blueberries
OR Smoothie: 250-300ml of coconut water (depending on preference of texture), 1 cup ice, 1 serving vanilla protein powder, 1/4 of an avocado, 1 Tbsp of organic peanut/almond butter, 1 tsp of cacao, 1/4 tsp of maca, 3 tsp Chia Seeds, Tablespoon of Flaxseed or Black seed oil, 1 cup (100g approximately of blueberries), 1/2 cup Oats
Moodi rustled up an alternative blueberry based smoothy in the Recipes For Ramadan kitchen. It looked and tasted divine. (See captioned photo). The recipe, demonstration chop and chat video, more advice and Moodi’s family story can be found on the Recipes for Ramadan website (www.recipesforramadan.com) – go to Recipes & Stories and follow the prompts to Lebanon then Moodi’s Suhoor Smoothies
7am: Training two hours after Suhoor
4:45pm – 5:15/5:30pm: Training
5:30 – 6:00pm: Breaking the fast, blend 1 glass of water, 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar, Greens Powder, Olive Leaf Extract, Spinach or Kale, Celery, Glutamine and Manuka honey
6:00pm: 2-3 x A week et home cooked (Daily if portion is small), eg Chicken OR White Fish (cooked with coconut or macadamia oil), Sweet potato, Brown Rice or Basmati Rice, Avocado, Dark green vegetables (broccoli, Bok Choy, green beans, asparagus, spinach, kale) OR Salad and Halfway through this meal, take 1 multivitamin, 1000mg of vitamin C and 1 fish oil.
8:30pm/9:00pm – (changing each week as cardio increases), LISS CARDIO Immediately after Taraweeh; During Cardio sip on Glutamine + BCAA’s in water. Start with 30 minutes, increasing in 5 minute increments each week until you build to 40 minutes.
10:00pm: Chicken OR White Fish (cooked with coconut or macadamia oil), Sweet potato, Brown Rice or Basmati Rice, Avocado, Dark green vegetables (broccoli, Bok Choy, green beans, asparagus, spinach, kale) OR Salad
OR Smoothie: 250-300ml of coconut water (depending on preference of texture), 1 cup ice, 1 serving vanilla protein powder, 1/4 of an avocado, 1 Tbsp of organic peanut/almond butter, 1 tsp of cacao, 1/4 tsp of maca, 3 tsp Chia Seeds, Tablespoon of Flaxseed or Black seed oil, 1 cup (100g approximately of blueberries), 1/2 cup Oats.
* After this meal have Organic dark chocolate (70-85%) with a cup of peppermint tea.
(NB Any of the meals above can be replaced with meals from @meals_by_moodi selecting similar protein sources. Deliveries within Sydney.)
Moodi came into the Recipes For Ramadan kitchen to demonstrate his Suhoor Smoothies and share his mother’s Baba Ghanoush recipe. Both can be found on www.RecipesForRamadan.com – just follow the prompts to Lebanon and Moodi on the Recipes & Stories page.
And follow @recipesforramadan, @moodidennaoui and @meals_by_moodi on Instagram.