How to prevent muscle loss during Ramadan?

As we all know that Ramadan festival is starting from 15th of May where Muslims will fast for 16+ hours and eat in an 8-hour window. It’s a very critical situation for Muslims to be in this stage for 4 weeks. I have also noticed in past that some of the gym goers just fall out of their track during this 4 week period. They aren’t aware, how to prevent muscle loss during Ramadan. So as per my vision and knowledge, I will be putting all the important tips to stay on track and maintain those hard earned gains.

Let’s start with the nutrition part:

1. Best way to maintain your physique is to eat at your maintenance calories. Don’t go for hypercaloric phase (energy surplus where you consume more calories above your maintenance for muscle gain), you can go for hypocaloric phase (negative energy balance to lose fat where you eat below your maintenance calories) but if you are one of my clients or followers I wouldn’t recommend that because you won’t be able to give your 100% because of many other things like family get together, stress, etc. You can argue on it but it’s good to stay on maintenance to avoid any muscle loss during Ramadan. 

muscle loss during Ramadan

2. To know your maintenance calorie you can refer to many formulas available on the internet. Once you come to know your maintenance calories keep your protein from 0.6-1g/lb of bodyweight, fats- 13-30% of total calories and rest calories should come from carbs.

3. Keep your maximum fat intake for the last meal before entering the fasting state. Before workout consume fast digesting carbs and protein. You can even add more carbs during a workout like Gatorade or GluconD or any other carb supplement. Post workout consume high sugary carbs and protein. Keep your 60-70% carbs around your workout for better physique condition. Why fats in the end? Because fats are the slowest macronutrient to digest. You can add high fibre foods at the end of your meal because fibre foods take time to digest and it keeps you away from hunger. You can add slow digesting protein like casein or any dairy product like cottage cheese to feed your muscles till 7-8 hours.

muscle loss during Ramadan

4. Not to worry about meal frequency just complete your daily calories within the feeding time.

5. Stay hydrated. Drink enough water because our muscles are made of 70% of water.

6. Don’t binge when you break your fast. Track your maintenance calories use calorie tracker apps and maintain your current body composition.

Now let’s get to the training part:

1. How many reps or sets we should do during Ramadan?

This is a very common question every Muslim guy or girl has. As I suggested you stay at your maintenance calories, same over here I would say do some low volume maintenance work. So what low volume maintenance work is? Performing enough volume to maintain your body composition. As you’re reading this you must be into resistance training. According to the literature of strength sports, you need to keep increasing your volume over time. You can increase it via increasing sets or load or reps. So as you train your muscles you make gains (muscle) if not then your maintenance volume will be zero sets. So to maintain the gains every person who lifts will have to train somewhere close to total weekly 6 sets. This means from beginners to advanced level you need minimum volume to maintain your current gains. How many reps? Yes, this is a critical thing if you do 6 total weekly sets of the chest but do high reps 8-15 then this will keep you off from low volume work.  I would suggest, go lower, somewhere from 4-8 reps.

muscle loss during Ramadan

2. As your sets and reps are fixed from above point now let’s talk about frequency. You can hit 6 days in a week but I would say the workload is very less so completing it in 3-4 days will be a good option.

3. Why low volume work? Isn’t it bad for gains? No, it’s not.

Low volume work is also important for our physique to give a break from high volume. This will resynthesize our muscle cells and give a break from high volume training. This will give maximum effectiveness when you get back to high volume after 4 weeks.

muscle loss during Ramadan

4) Train after you break your fast. Don’t train when you’re empty stomach because you won’t be able to perform well and your body will go into a catabolic mode.

Conclusion: Be with your family and don’t take any stress. Enjoy your festival the most. If you follow the above points properly trust me there won’t be any muscle loss during Ramadan. Make sure you train and eat the way I have mentioned. It’s only about 4 weeks you won’t lose muscle if you train during Ramadan, it takes months to lose those hard-earned muscles.

Yashovardhan Singh is a fitness coach with GetSetGo Fitness and a former national football player. He likes to keep a no-nonsense approach to fitness by applying scientific literature to provide results to his clients. Reach him at [email protected] for coaching.

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