How to Fuel Your Body to Maximise Energy during Ramadan?

You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This applies to Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) much more – so avoid skipping it to keep up your energy in Ramadan. 

The Prophet (pbuh) said Eat suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.” (Bukhaari, Muslim)

It’s nourishment is what will help you feel sustained and energized throughout your fast – that is, if you choose the right foods!

Timing

You should aim to have suhoor as close as possible to the fajr (dawn prayer). An early suhoor means you’re just making the fast even longer – and we don’t want that!

‍The Prophet (pbuh) said: “My Ummah (nation of followers) will not cease being upon goodness as long as they hasten in breaking the fast and delay the suhoor.” (Authentic, Musnad Imam Ahmad). 

What should I have to keep up energy in Ramadan?

It’s essential to have a balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Our body needs all three macronutrients, each playing important roles.

Missing out on a macronutrient can have negative consequences such as  feeling hungry, losing muscle, or having low blood sugars (leading to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, etc) [1].

Carbohydrates

Our brain’s main source of energy is glucose [2]. Most people think of carbs as white bread and potatoes, yet they forget that carbs include fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and yogurt.

They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants – all of which will nourish your body and help you keep up energy in Ramadan.

Have carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. The body takes a longer time to break down these carbohydrates and will raise blood sugars more slowly [3].

Energy in Ramadan

This means you can feel full for longer while avoiding a huge spike in blood sugar followed by a sudden crash.

Examples: whole grains (ex. overnight oats, muesli, protein pancakes with oats, homemade bran muffins, sareen, bulgur, barley), whole grain or whole wheat breads (ex. pita, chapati, laxoox, enjeero), beans and lentils (ex. daal, ful), fruit (ex. berries, peach), plain yogurt, milk or even sweet potato.

For healthy suhoor recipes get a copy of the 50 Ramadan Recipes E-book.

Protein

Protein is essential to build and repair muscle, hair, skin, nails, hormones, and antibodies [4]. It’s also a source of energy.

Have protein to help you feel full for longer and retain energy in Ramadan.

Energy in Ramadan

Choose eggs, beans, lentils, greek yogurt, nut/nut butters, seeds and tofu. You can also choose meat options, such as lean poultry, fish, or beef. 

Ex. frittatas, protein pancakes, greek yogurt smoothies, egg or chicken wraps/burritos, ful (fava beans), oatmeal with peanut butter or chopped nuts.

Healthy Fats

Fats contain the most energy per gram when compared to protein and carbs. They’re also essential in absorbing fat soluble vitamins. However, not all fats are created equal.

Have healthy unsaturated fats to help you feel full. Choose nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish, and unsaturated vegetable oils (olive, canola, flaxseed, sunflower, etc).

An example of a balanced suhoor: Vegetable frittata made with olive oil + whole grain bread + a cup of berries + water.

How can I stay hydrated in Ramadan?

Water is your best choice of drink. The Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. encouraged having water at suhoor.

“Have Suhoor even if it is a mouthful of water.” (Ibn Hibban)

Our bodies are mostly made up of water, using it for digestion, removing wastes, transporting nutrients, regulating blood pressure, and much more [5]. So you can see why it’s essential to stay hydrated.

I usually recommend clients to have at least 2 cups (500ml) of water at suhoor, preferably after you eat. This is because you want to avoid filling up on fluid before your meal (your main source of energy and nutrients).

What if I really can’t eat early in the morning?

If you’re someone who doesn’t feel like having any food that early in the morning, then soups or smoothies are your friend.

Soups or smoothies can be rich in energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and healthy fats.

Consider adding the following to your smoothies*:

For Protein:
  • Greek yogurt
  • Protein powder
  • Hemphearts
  • Peanut butter
  • Chia seeds
For Healthy fats:
  • Hemphearts /chia seed
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Peanut butter
  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
For Fibre, Vitamins and Minerals
  • Fruits (berries, melon, peach, pineapple, banana, etc.)
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
Consider soups* with the following:
  • Lentils and beans (ex. Red lentil, blackbean)
  • Peas (ex. Pigeon pea, split pea, chickpea)
  • Vegetables (ex. Butternut squash, red bell pepper, carrot)
  • Whole grains (ex. Barley, bulgur, whole grain pasta)
  • Lean poultry (ex. Skinless chicken, turkey)

*It’s best to have a mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats for a balanced suhoor.

 

Suhoor is a sunnah, has barakah and can really help you feel more energized throughout your fast. So plan ahead and have suhoor to feel your best in this blessed month.

 

May you have a nutritious and enriching Ramadan.

 

Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD
*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake vary by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information email contact@sadafshaikh.ca or visit www.sadafshaikh.ca.

 

 

 

References:
[1] Mayo Clinic. (2019). Hypoglycemia – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypoglycemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373685 
[2] Mergenthaler, P., Lindauer, U., Dienel, G. A., & Meisel, A. (2013). Sugar for the brain: the role of glucose in physiological and pathological brain function. Trends in neurosciences, 36(10), 587-597.
[3] Diabetes Canada. (2021, April 1). The glycemic index (GI). https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/tools—resources/the-glycemic-index-(gi)
[4] Unlock Food. (2020, June 10). Introduction to protein and high protein foods. https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Protein/Introduction-To-Protein-And-High-Protein-Foods.aspx 
[5] Dietitians of Canada (2014). Guidelines for drinking fluids to stay hydrated. https://www.dietitians.ca/getattachment/becace49-3bad-4754-ac94-f31c3f04fed0/FACTSHEET-Guidelines-for-staying-hydrated.pdf.aspx

Written by Sadaf Shaikh

As a Registered Dietitian and nutrition blogger, my philosophy is that you can be healthy while being of different backgrounds, cultures and circumstances. As someone who enjoys my own cultural cuisine, I’ve experienced the challenges of finding food that’s healthful yet close to home. With guidance, you can find a lifestyle that fits both your goals and your taste buds.