Karachi (May 21, 2017) Fasting during the month of Ramadan can be good for your health if it is done correctly.
If you are overweight, it can be an opportunity to lose weight. The changes that happen in the body during a fast depend on the length of the continuous fast.
The body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorbing nutrients from the food.
In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy.
During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the glucose runs out, fat becomes the next source of energy for the body.
With a prolonged fast of many days or weeks, the body starts using protein and breaking down protein for energy.
Gentle transition from glucose to fat
As the Ramadan fast only lasts from dawn till dusk, the body’s energy can be replaced in the pre-dawn and dusk meals.
This provides a gentle transition from using glucose as the main source of energy to using fat, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein.
The use of fat for energy helps weight loss. It preserves the muscles and eventually reduces your cholesterol level. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure.
After a few days of the fast, higher levels of endorphins appear in the blood, making you more alert and giving an overall feeling of general mental wellbeing.
A balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidneys are very efficient at maintaining the body’s water and salts, but these can be lost through sweating.
To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain enough energy food, such as carbohydrates and some fat.
The way to approach your diet during fasting is similar to the way you should be eating outside Ramazan.
You should have a balanced diet, with the right proportion of carbohydrates, fat and protein. If you are not careful, food eaten during the pre-dawn and dusk meals can cause some weight gain.
Experts say your food intake should be simple and not differ too much from your normal diet. It should contain foods from all the major food groups:
fruit and vegetables
bread, cereals and potatoes
meat, fish or alternatives
milk and dairy foods
foods containing fat and sugar
Foods high in fibre can help to keep your bowels healthy and add bulk to your meal, helping you to feel full.
Foods to avoid
deep-fried foods – such as pakoras, samosas and fried dumplings
high-sugar and high-fat foods – including sweets such as gulab jamun, rasgulla and balushahi
high-fat cooked foods – such as parathas, oily curries and greasy pastries