Each year about 1.6 billion Muslims fast during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The fast begins with the sighting of the new moon, and Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking cigarettes and sexual activity from sunrise to sunset for the entire month. Ramadan is a time for reflection and spiritual growth. So, how do you stay healthy during Ramadan?

There has been much dispute over the effects the fast can have on one's health as well as the impact of a rigorous fitness regimen. Luckily, there are some amazing badass female role models debunking these myths and teaching women (and men) how to stay healthy during Ramadan.

Zehra Allibhai is a fitness and food guru who just happens to be a Muslim. This year, she put together this amazing food and fitness guide to help women make healthier food and fitness decisions during the month of Ramadan. I also consulted Angy El-Khatib, who wrote about the physical performance of muslim athletes during the month of Ramadan for the International Journal of Athletic Therapy & Training. With the help of both of these women, here are some tips for staying on top of your health game during Ramadan. 


It is especially important to fully rehydrate during the night. You should strive to drink 2 - 2.5 liters of water each day. Zehra recommends drinking 1-2 glasses at Iftaar, the meal at sundown, and another two full glasses at Suhoor, the morning meal before sunrise. 

You should also strive to reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake. Sorry coffee and tea drinkers! Caffeine can lead to dehydration. If you're sick and tired of drinking water, snack on foods that are mostly made up of water like watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, spinach or celery instead.

Eat Whole Foods

As the sun sets, your stomach is probably rumbling and you might be feeling a little hangry. Try to avoid processed foods and instead go for whole, clean foods. Fill your body with protein, good fats, and fiber at both Iftaar and Suhoor. 

Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Make sure to fuel up with a protein, like baked eggs in portobello mushrooms, oatmeal, or protein energy balls if you're in a rush. Eating a balanced meal at Suhoor will keep you from crashing later. 

Don't Over Exert Yourself

Don't be afraid to sweat, but do adjust your workout time. Zehra recommends working out right before opening the fast, soon after opening the fast with a light meal, or a little while after opening the fast with a regular meal. However, Angy recommends working out shortly before sunset, breaking your fast with some dates and water or sports drink, and then finishing out your workout.

The time of day all depends on your personal preference, but the intensity is pretty standard. Don't try to break any personal records and don't try to make any strength gains. Additionally, Angy's research shows that exercise exceeding 90 minutes is actually detrimental. Strive for maintenance. 

At the end of the day, Zehra's 80:20 rule can be applied to almost any situation. Strive to "follow the rules" 80 percent of the time. If you miss a work out or eat a little too much baklava, don't stress. As Angy says, "Part of Ramadan is sacrifice, but you really don't have to sacrifice your health and exercise for 30 days."