Episode 08: How These Simple, Zero Cost Ways Can Increase Your Energy During Fasting

Transcript

How These Simple, Zero Cost Ways Can Increase Your Energy During Fasting

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu, 

Welcome to the Best Versions Podcast, where I help you unlock your fullest potential to move from average to excellence in Worship, Energy, Love and Legacy.  

I’m your Host, Rushdhi Ismail. A computer engineer turned nutrition and life coach. I’m going to use my experience of over 25 years in the personal and spiritual development field to provide you with practical tools to move from average to excellence, bi’idnillah

Alhamdulillah, I’m super excited to meet you again in another episode. I sincerely hope that my podcast is helping you immensely to become a better you. 

Today we are going to talk about another incredible topic to help you increase your energy during the month of Ramadan. 

So, in this episode, we’ll insha Allah talk about five essential tools to keep yourself energised during fasting.

Keeping yourself energised during fasting is important for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is that Ramadan can be one of the most productive months of the year. It can be that catapult that takes you from average to excellence in all areas of your life. 

That’s because Ramadan provides us with incredible opportunities to become a better version of ourselves. 

It’s the month when Shayateen are chained up, and the doors of paradise are open. The barakah of that month helps us to be super productive than in any other month! Alhamdulillah

Therefore I make every effort to use the blessing of that month to be productive. 

However, in order to be highly productive, you also need to take care of certain things to energise yourself. 

Without being fully energised, you may not be able to make use of the barakah of this month and be very productive. 

So if you want to make the most out of this blessed month and become closer to your best version in worship, energy, love and legacy, you need to focus on energising yourself throughout this month. 

You can do many things to keep yourself energised; however, today, I present the five most effective and tested tools that will help most of us be energised and achieve a productive Ramadan, bi’idnillah

So what are those five tools?

Let’s get started with tool number one. 

Are you ready?

Okay, tool number one is napping during the day! 

One of the things that have the most significant impact on our well-being and energy is sleep. Just a single night of insufficient sleep can disrupt many things in our life.

For instance, a study from the University of California shows that reducing our sleep to just four hours for one single night drops the efficiency of our immune system by a whopping one third! 

Think about that. 

That one night of insufficient sleep could be the reason to catch a cold the next day. 

So sleep is an incredibly important part of our health. Therefore, taking care of our sleep during the month of Ramadan and outside of Ramadan is vital if we want to keep ourselves energised.

I want you to be aware that shortening your sleep unnecessarily, even during Ramadan, isn’t a great idea. That’s because sleep has this domino effect on everything else in life. 

When you get sufficient sleep, everything is enhanced in your life. 

When you get insufficient sleep, many things in your life will suffer, including productivity and energy. 

So except for worship, I wouldn’t reduce my sleep unnecessarily in Ramadan. 

Now let me repeat that. Worship is super important. If there is anything you are going to sacrifice your sleep for, then it should only be worship! Nothing else! 

Anyway, my goal is not to talk about sleep today. We shall insha Allah discuss that perhaps in a later episode. Today my goal is to provide you with a solution to the problem most of us face in Ramadan.

We all want to spend more time worshipping Allah subuhanawuta’la while also feeling energised throughout the day. 

So how do we achieve both? 

That’s where the role of naps plays a huge role. 

Naps can help us somewhat compensate for the less sleep we get in Ramadan. 

Sure, nothing can compensate for sleep. However, the closest thing that can help you in Ramadan is naps.

So here is what I suggest you do. Try your best to get as much sleep as possible at night. And during the day, get some high-quality naps. 

I know it’s easier said than done. Still, if you want to maximise the benefits of fasting, you need to re-energise yourself with as many naps throughout the day as possible.

That’s because naps can instantly enhance your energy levels, productivity, and overall well-being.

Dr Sara Mednick is one of the leading scientists who spent her entire life studying naps. She wrote an excellent book called “Take a Nap, Change Your Life”. She says that you can improve your performance with a nap as short as 20 minutes.

In that book, she also mentions 20 more reasons why you should nap regularly. I’ve mentioned all these reasons in a blog post I wrote a while ago. Check out the link in the show notes. 

I’m actually a big believer in naps. Mainly because it’s a beautiful sunnah of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. We know that he had naps on a very regular basis. He even encouraged others to take naps. He ﷺ said, “Take a nap, for the shayateen do not take naps” (Reported by At-Tabarani, Al-Saheehah, 2647)

The question is how to strategically use naps to enhance your energy and productivity throughout the fasting day. 

Here is how I do it:

I plan my napping time. I have a rough timetable I follow in Ramadan, and I schedule it on my agenda when to nap because what gets planned gets done, Alhamdulillah

I usually have two naps: One during midday and the second one soon after work.

The midday nap helps me be productive in the afternoon. And the evening nap helps me be energetic for Taraweeh prayers. 

These naps are usually just 20 minutes long. That’s because, based on the scientific literature, 20-30 minutes is a perfect time to nap without going into a deep sleep. 

Naps that are between longer than 30 minutes or less than 90 minutes might not be ideal, as you may feel groggy when you wake up. 

Why? That’s an entirely different chat for another day. 

Anyway, on very tiring days, I do nap for 90-95 minutes during my lunch break. 

Ninety minutes is a complete cycle of sleep, which will help you wake up fully refreshed, and its length is ideal during Ramadan, particularly on days where you get less sleep. 

Taking that ninety-minute nap late in the evening may mess up your sleep routine at night, and you’ll find it harder to fall asleep at night. 

So pay attention to the timing. 

I also use another tool to replace my nap time to time. It’s called NSDR. 

NSDR? Yep, NSDR! 

NSDR stands for Non-Sleep Deep Rest. It’s a tool developed by neuroscientists.

It works very similarly to a nap. Instead of just napping, you follow through with a set of simple instructions while lying on your bed. I’ve linked a youtube video that explains how it works in the show notes.

Perhaps you’ve experienced it too, you want to nap, but your mind is too busy thinking about every imaginable thing in the world.

That’s when I usually turn to NSDR!

All you need to do is close your eyes, lie down on a bed, or sit down comfortably! Then just follow what the instructor tells you to do in the video.

It’s an amazing way of relaxing, and even if you don’t fall asleep during that process, you’ll feel very energised after that 20 minutes session.

Particularly in Ramadan, I do NSDR sessions very often! 

I invite you to try it out, and I hope you’ll thank me for it.

Now, let’s move to the second strategy that can keep us energised in Ramadan.

The second tool deals with movement. 

Yes, the second best thing to keep yourself energised is frequent movement.

Movement is exceptionally important for our well-being. However, it’s even more important for being energised. 

Why? 

That’s because Allah designed our bodies to move! That’s why you feel better when you move and sluggish when sedentary.

And movement in Ramdan is even more important because it can enhance your health in various ways. 

Let me mention one or two things today. 

When you fast, your body goes into an “energy conservation mode”. That’s the best time for the cells to initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy. 

In plain terms, autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells to regenerate newer, healthier cells. 

The “cellular waste” must be removed from the body like any waste. 

Now, how do you do that? 

Well, that’s where the role of the lymphatic system comes in. 

The lymphatic system has many roles. It gets rid of any waste that cells make. And it also transports lymph throughout the body. 

Now, you may wonder what lymph is. Well, lymph is a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells. So it’s an integral part of your immune system. 

For this lymphatic system to work efficiently, it relies heavily on the pumping action of your body movements. And that’s where exercise plays an important role.

So movement such as walking, jogging, swimming, yoga or any other exercise would help you make your lymphatic system work efficiently. 

Make sure to incorporate some of these movements throughout the day. 

It’s great to schedule one big bout of exercise every day. However, if you want to keep yourself energised throughout the day, I have a better strategy. 

What’s that? 

Move every hour for a few minutes. 

Even just a 2-3 minutes walk every hour would do the job. 

I try to do a few body squats, pushups, burpees, or pullups, depending on my mood and environment. I sometimes just go for a few minutes of brisk walking or running on the stairs. 

The goal is not to sit too long. Not to be sedentary. The more often you sit, the more lethargy you will feel. So avoid sitting and try more standing and moving, insha Allah.

And frequent movement is also a great strategy to lose some extra fat. If you are interested in losing more body fat, I talked about that in the fifth episode. Check it out, insha Allah! 

I prioritise movement in Ramadan to keep myself energised and productive throughout the day. 

And on top of moving every hour, I also work out at least 20 minutes most days, around an hour before Iftār. 

You may wonder why I exercise so close to Iftar! Isn’t that time when you are least energetic? 

There are four main reasons why I exercise and encourage others to exercise just close to Iftār.

  1. It’s the best time to increase your fat loss. After 12 to 16 hours of fasting, your body is depleted of instant energy, and it turns to your body fat to use for energy. So when you work out at that time, your body immediately grabs your body fat and burns it for fuel. And the result is increased fat loss. Who doesn’t want that, right? 
  2. Your muscle recovery needs protein, carbs etc. That means, within 1-2 hours, it’s better to eat a high-quality meal if you want to maximise the benefits of exercise. So, working out 60 minutes before Iftār paves the way towards that goal too. 
  3. Exercise while fasting will make you thirsty. So, working out just before Iftār means you don’t need to stay thirsty for long.
  4. A good workout just before Iftār gives you a real kick of energy. And we all need that energy for worshipping during the night.

I hope I have made my case for more movement in Ramadan. 

So to recap, get as much movement as you can during the day, reduce sitting, and work out at least 20 minutes close to Iftar. 

Okay, let’s move on to the third tool.

The third tool is wudhu. 

In the last episode, I talked about the spiritual benefits of wudhu and also mentioned how it can keep us energised throughout the fasting time.

As I said, water has these magical properties. Whenever it touches our body, it helps us feel better and refreshed. 

So this is a simple tool that you can practise by maintaining your wudhu throughout the fasting time. I talked about it in detail in episode 07, so if you have missed it, you may check it, insha Allah. 

Okay, what’s the fourth tool? 

The fourth tool is hydration. 

Wait? Did I say hydration? 

Yes, now, before you come to any conclusion, I know it’s obvious that we can’t hydrate during fasting. 

When I talk about hydration, I talk about hydration during non-fasting hours. How much fluid you intake during non-fasting hours has a significant impact on your energy level during fasting time.

So, pay more attention to your hydration because water is far more important than food for your survival and energy level.

Our body consists of almost 70% water. And it is also water that helps the blood transport oxygen and other essentials to our cells. 

And water is essential for our energy levels too. Even just a 5 per cent drop in our body’s fluid levels can lead to a 25 to 35 per cent drop in energy levels.

But that’s just half of the story. 

For example, our body has a limit to the percentage of dehydration that it can tolerate. When our body passes this mark, it even damages our DNA! So, not drinking enough water is a big blow to our health.

The undesirable side effects of dehydration are many. It can also lead to other, more complicated health issues. 

In fact, headaches, tiredness, constipation, dry skin and lack of energy are common dehydration symptoms in Ramadan.

A survey among British Muslims showed that a whopping 81% of them had issues with proper hydration while fasting. 

Crazy, right? 

So how can you keep yourself hydrated during Ramadan?

Well, drink at least 1.5 litres of liquid between iftār and suḥoor; that’s around eight glasses of fluid. By fluid, I mean things such as:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened, caffeine-free teas such as mint tea, rooibos tea, fruit tea
  • Unsweetened, freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice with a pinch of salt. It’s also an excellent way to replenish the body with electrolytes. 
  • Coconut water
  • Unsweetened buttermilk or milk 

Try to get as much fluid as you can. However, water beats everything else on the list I just mentioned. So, try to get in as many glasses of water as you can. 

I try to drink at least 2 litres of liquid between iftār and suḥoor. So here is a quick breakdown of how I do it. 

  • I break my fast with at least ½ litre of water.
  • Then I try to sip another ½ litre during Taraweeh prayers. I usually carry a bottle with me, and I try to drink as much as I can between the breaks. 
  • And then I drink another ½ litre at suhoor. 
  • And on top of that, I try to drink as many other unsweetened beverages in between. 

Also, talking about hydration, add plenty of vegetables, fruits, and soups to your iftar and suhoor meals because most vegetables and fruits are very hydrating. 

The takeaway message is simple. Make sure to prioritise water over food in Ramadan. You can survive without food for weeks; you are in big trouble just within days without adequate water. 

Great, let’s now talk about the fifth tool today. 

The fifth tool is nutrition. 

Yes, what you eat has an incredible impact on your energy level and productivity. And you know that, right? 

So if your goal is to increase your energy to make the most out of this Ramadan, you need to pay attention to what you eat. 

Unfortunately, most of us pay little attention to what we put in our mouths, particularly during Iftar. However, what we eat or don’t eat has an incredible impact on our performance and energy level.

Now, what do I suggest? 

First and foremost, as I mentioned in the fourth tool, focus on getting your hydration right. When you drink a lot of water or any other liquid, you’ll usually have less space for food!

One of my friends once mentioned that his brother would drink almost no water at Iftar so that he could eat a lot! I don’t want you to be like that brother. 

Focus on hydration, and then make sure that you eat the most nutrient-dense food. The goal should be to get as many nutrients as possible, not as many calories as possible. 

So what should you eat to get as many nutrients as possible? 

As a nutrition coach, I could talk about many things. And there are so many dos and don’ts to talk about when it comes to Iftar and Suhoor. 

Today I just want to focus on dos and give you three simple tips. If you can focus on these three and prioritise them as the first thing to eat at every meal, you are better off than most people in Ramadan, Insha Allah

Tip #1: Fill half of your plate with vegetables. 

It’s up to you how you want to consume those vegetables. Make soup or smoothie. Eat a salad or stir-fried veggies. Just make sure you eat as much as you can from this category. 

You can prepare tasty vegetable soup for Iftar and then eat a small bowl of stir-fried veggies! There you’ve two portions of highly-needed veggies in your stomach. 

I think that’s pretty straightforward, right? 

Tip #2: Eat at least one portion of protein at every meal. 

For men, I would even suggest increasing the portion to two. 

One portion is roughly 100 grams of meat, fish or chicken. Or around 2-3 eggs. 

Tip #3: Take some supplements. 

Supplements are great during Ramadan, as it’s tough to get all the vitamins and minerals we need in one or two meals. 

There is a great variety of supplements you could take. However, what I suggest is to take some powdered greens! 

Powdered greens are concentrated fruits and vegetables that are powdered for ease of consumption. You can conveniently use them if you want to hit your daily vegetable intake.  

If you wonder what sort of powdered vegetables you need to take, I have a few recommendations in the show notes. Please check them. 

I take Athletic Greens. It’s kind of a premium powdered green that is manufactured for high performance. 

Though it’s pretty costly, I find it absolutely amazing. It helps me cover my bases. Alhamdulillah! 

But, you don’t necessarily need to buy Athletic Greens. There are other good and cheaper alternatives too. You’ll find some of my recommendations in the show notes, insha Allah! 

If you can’t get hold of high-quality powdered vegetables, I recommend taking a good quality multivitamin pill during Ramadan. 

Now here is the thing. 

The fastest way to get a lot of nutrients is to eat more vegetables and fruits. Period. There is no question about it. However, most of us don’t eat enough vegetables during Ramadan. 

We like to fill our stomachs with samosas and pakoras and don’t find space for vegetables. 

That’s why supplementation becomes important in Ramadan. 

Having said that, I need to reiterate it. Supplements are taken to supplement your healthy meals. They are not a replacement for your healthy meals.

And most importantly, check with your physician before taking any supplements. 

I’m a coach, and I can only recommend it. I can’t prescribe. 

Okay, those are the five tools that can help increase your energy in Ramadan. If you can focus on getting these five things right, you’ll see how your energy level increases, bi’idnillah!

That’s all from me for today. 

If you want to read the transcript of this podcast, you can find it at https://bestversions.me/podcasts/08.

Thanks so very much for listening to my podcast. I sincerely pray that this episode helps you go from average to excellence in worship, energy, love and legacy. 

And last but not least, please subscribe to my podcast, and share the podcast with your family and friends. I’m confident you can make a difference in others’ lives by sharing this information with them.

Until we meet in the next episode insha Allah next Friday, I pray that Allah subuhanawuta’la showers his choicest blessings on you and your family. 

Enjoy your Ramadan, and include me in your prayers! 

And let me end the podcast with the greetings of Jannah, Asssalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu. 

Show Notes 

NSDR – YouTube Video

If you wonder what sort of powdered vegetables you need to take, I have a few recommendations below. Please check!