Some people might think that gaining weight during the fasting month of Ramadan is inevitable. If you are one of them, here’s the good news! Fasting can actually help you lose weight, by resetting your body’s calorie burning mechanism!
Here are some facts:
● Fasting can help you achieve significant weight loss. According to a review published in 2014, those who fasted were found to lose 3-8% of their body weight in a period that ranges between 3 -24 weeks. Impressively, participants also found fasting effective in losing belly fat when participants lost 4-7% of their waist circumference.
● Fasting can decrease your insulin levels by more than 50%, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Lower levels of insulin aid fat loss.
● Fasting can raise Human Growth Hormone by up to an average of 1300% in women and 2000% in men, according to an early study. Growth hormone was found to reduce the total fat as well as the abdominal fat mass, according to another study.
Below are some tips on how you can control your calorie intake:
● Start right and choose water to quench your thirst after a long day of fasting. Note that water itself will not cause weight loss but it does keep you hydrated and could cause stomach distention and may affect food consumption. It is important that you avoid sugary drinks as they have high amount of hidden sugar that you won't feel until it's deposited as fat somewhere around the waist line.● Start with a couple of dates to break you fast, they’ll give you the sugar you need quickly.
● Trick your brain and take a break. It takes 20 minutes for the food you eat to travel from stomach to the ileum, the thing that causes the release of the Peptide YY hormone (PYY is responsible for making you feel full) and then for the message to reach the brain, “hey! I'm full”. Take a break, finish your prayer, or engage in a conversation to give your stomach a chance to tell your brain you have had enough food before you overeat.
● Healthy starters are good way to help you lower your overall calorie intake. A study concluded that consuming foods that are high in fibre and water like salad before meals “could prompt sensible intake and can remind dieters to resist eating tempting food”. Dieters in the study consumed 21％ fewer calories when they started their meals with salad. Vegetable or lentil soup are healthy popular choices. Mixed salads are also a filling healthy starter as long as you avoid high caloric dressings. Lemon, vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil is all that you need.
● Chew your food thoroughly, enjoy your meal and don’t rush it. A study showed that normal weight individuals who ate their meal at a slow speed showed significant reduction in energy intake. Furthermore, participants felt less hungry after a slow meal in comparison to a fast one.
● Bake and grill, don’t fry. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, you consume about 278 calories for 299 grams of baked potatoes. While 312 grams of fried potatoes has 826 calories. Shocking? I'll leave it at that.
● Choose desserts that contain natural sugars over those containing processed sugar. While fruits and milk based sweets and puddings are nutritious, low in fat, high in fibre and can help you slow your digestion and feel fuller, desserts that have added sugar (Kunafeh, Baklava, and Qatayef) are high in calories and saturated fats that contribute to weight gain. Remember, moderation is a key to weight loss.