Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Fitness and Fasting

By Mujuthaba

I hope that this article finds you in great health and fitness during this Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of religious fasting, or in other words abstinence from food during daytime. It is during this period where a number of complications occur in our lifestyle; spiritually, physiologically and psychologically. It is this physiological aspects that I would like to explain in terms of maintaining physical fitness during Ramadan.

Biological Change

Our bodies are sensitive to the surroundings as well as to its functions influenced by chronological fluctuations. One such example is the drowsiness and sleepiness we feel via hormonal changes in the absence of sunlight. Hence our bodies are used to normal sequential events that we expose to it daily. This is also called the biological clock. For the human body, fasting is not a normal event; after the body is used to daily meals of 4 or 5. What do these biological effects have on our physiology and training?

Do we lose weight?

Chronobiological effects aren’t the only changes the body struggles to settle while we start the month of fasting. Let’s ask the big question; does it help us lose weight? Answer: of course it does but with twists. If we do a lot of low intensity walking (without going for glucose as the fuel for the activity) we would be burning our body fat. When we fast, our body start to lack so much carbohydrate that it runs on fat (mostly), which is also used to feed the brain in another form.

Training and sports

So is low intensity better than high intensity training when fasting? Yes, if you are trying to lose fat, and that’s the only reason you would want to lose weight. Submaximal exercise is preferred while fasting. If maximal exercises are taken up, the body loses so much glycogen and blood glucose that our brain starves. This lack of blood glucose brings us to limits over our temper and judgment. Drowsiness and clumsiness are also due to the lack of blood glucose. This decrease in blood glucose decreases our sporting performance as there was a decrease in our as psychomotor performance, or coordination between the body and brain.

Effects on chronically ill

Fasting increases stress hormones, which also mobilizes the glycogen stores in the muscles. Some studies found an increase in LDL (the bad cholesterol) while a decrease in HDL (good cholesterol), corresponding an increased risk for those with chronic cardiovascular diseases. Although there are other contradicting studies, which claim otherwise. For diabetics, it is quite important to take the early morning meal (‘haaru’) before fasting inorder to maintain their blood sugar. Otherwise there is a likelihood of them going into hypoglycemic state later during the day.


Breaking the fast is the tricky part. You cannot expect to have a low intensity walk during the day and burn your excess fat if your diet is filled with so much saturated fat. Well, for most of us, our meal during the breaking of fast is excess in saturated fatty food; this unfortunately won’t help and will likely reverse the effect of weight-loss. It is best to choose a lighter meal with high protein, moderate carbs and low fat with a large portion of vegetables and fruit. Try and stick with the meal later (‘Tharaaveeh’), after the intense workout. That meal should be light and specific for your training.

I hope this article was helpful to you to go along with your fasting period with a healthier and fitter mind. If you are on a competitive sport fighting for a trophy, the trick is to take a good high carb meal during early breakfast (‘Haaru’) and hopefully burn them effectively. Take good care of your mind and body and stay fit.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Six Fixes for a Six Pack Abs

By: Mujuthaba

Weight-loss and a perfect six pack don’t come easy. It takes dedication and a good reason to motivate oneself. I have decided to put up these six fixes based on my exercise science knowledge and personal experience. Hope this helps in achieving your six-pack goal.

1- Diet Diet Diet
Yep. If you pursue a dream of weight-loss and flashing your six-packs, diet is the most important factor. Then exercise would account for just 30% of your program. Exercise and diet work hand in hand. Following a good strict diet is the hardest thing for people to abide. It cannot be achieved unless you are ready to change your lifestyle. Unless you are ready to do this, I can assure you, you CANNOT lose weight.

My Advice: Get advice from a dietician if you are dead serious. They can help you with the haves and not haves from our local foods. Make the dietary change gradually not immediately.

2- Ab exercises???
No. If your wish is to scrape off the flab on your abs, crunches and sit-ups barely help. Ab exercises only help to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, but won’t help to get rid of the fat that hides them.

My Advice: Jog, bike, swim or row at low intensity for over thirty minutes four times a week. Don’t stop those ab exercises; just mix them to the cardio workout instead.

3- Fat not muscle
I want you to lose fat and not muscle. Weight training is the way to do this. Ladies, you will not look like musculature monsters, but you will just have toned up body. The better muscle mass, the more fat you burn. The more fat you burn the quicker your six pack will show. You should not lose the muscle, they are important for the body unlike the excess fat.

My Advice: Try adding weight training sessions into your training program. Do it three times a week.

4- Expecting Results overnight
I have repeated this over and over in my blog. If you expect to see results over-night, you will end up very disappointed. If you take up a good training program and a good diet, results gradually start showing at around the first month. Before that, good things start happening inside your body, such as increase your heart size, blood volume, lung capacity and density of blood capillaries. It just takes a while for it to show on the outside.

My Advice: For the best results give your body about twelve weeks or three months. Pick a date and make this your goal date.

5-Motivation is the key
Throughout my fitness career, I have seen a number of people start training to lose weight, but just can’t keep on going. To start training, most people have a motivating factor or a goal. Once that factor is gone, so is the intention of the healthy active lifestyle.

My Advice: If your goal is to get a six-pack, remain focused and be positive. Make short-term goals to achieve your major goal. Do not get distracted by other factors.

Too often people who lose weight gain the kilos back on. It is known that among obese individuals only about three to five out of a hundred maintain their weight long-term. The rest jump on the inactivity wagon and gain the flab again. Losing weight is hard and maintaining the lost weight is harder.

My Advice: When you get your six-pack, keep on training, even if it is once a week. It is best to have competitive and consistent training partner or a group.