Coaches Chat - Michael Bann Discusses Health and Fitness Success During Ramadan

20 Apr

Michael Bann has worked with clients from all over the world throughout the past decade. Many of those clients have had to work around religious holidays. At the time of this article, some of Michael’s clients were preparing to celebrate Ramadan, so Michael was helping them prepare for how they would maintain/improve their health and wellness throughout that time. Because so few coaching companies discuss this topic, we wanted to give everybody some helpful thoughts in order to maximize their month of Ramadan. Enjoy!

What is Ramadan, structurally?

Ramadan is a one month Muslim holiday where people must fast from sun up to sun down. Historically, many people have gotten together with their families each evening for an Iftar - meal to break their fast - but with the quarantines going on around the world, Iftar may be far more isolated than most are used to.

Because so much of people’s days is spent fasting, and because Ramadan goes for an entire month, it makes it rather challenging for people to make large fitness gains during this time. 

How can people eat and train around Ramadan

Michael was careful to say that everybody is unique, so he’s not claiming that these strategies are uniquely perfect for everybody. With Michael’s clients, he assesses exactly where they are mentally and physically as well as what goals and lifestyle desires they have so that he can give them the best program and schedule in order to enjoy Ramadan while still progressing toward their bigger goals.

Some of the difficulties that anybody trying to train during Ramadan will face are:

  • Not eating enough calories - simply because there are fewer hours with which to eat, many people eat fewer total calories even with large evening meals
  • Poor digestion - with big meals during Ramadan, people often eat rather quickly which can cause a host of digestive issues which can lead to poor sleep, inflammation, etc...
  • Poor nutrition during the month - many people end up eating fewer vegetables due to the celebratory feasts they eat
  • Losing sleep - beit due to eating or drinking too close to bed or trying to wakeup early to eat prior to the sun coming up
  • Poorly sleeping - similar to losing sleep, but with circadian rhythm upset due to a differently timed schedule (staying up later than normal), people often have poor sleep for an entire month

Some of the expectations that must be discussed and understood about progress during Ramadan are:

  • Fitness athletes are not likely going to make tangible fitness gains during this time
  • Everybody should titrate (consume less) calories and water as they get closer to sleep - this will help them sleep much better
  • Most people can, and probably should, look at the month of Ramadan as a time to detox and repair their bodies
  • Be careful about training later in the evening, and do not train high intensity within 2-3 hours prior to go to sleep

Timing of training and eating during Ramadan can - generally - fall into two buckets:

  • Those who are chasing fitness goals
  • Those who are chasing health goals

Remember that fitness goals are not health goals. Getting better in fitness, in a competitive landscape, requires some health to destruct, which is ok, whereas health is all about longevity.

For the people who are chasing fitness goals, Michael recommends a schedule that looks approximately like:

  • Sun goes down
  • Eat some dates and have a protein shake (with BCAA’s) + greens
  • If they need coffee, they can have some coffee
  • Go train - but keep that training to mainly weight training proficient movements and aerobic work vs painful lactic training
  • Wait 30 min
  • Drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in it
  • Eat a big meal
  • Wait another 90 or so minutes
  • Eat a smaller meal
  • Shut down food/water 60 min before going to sleep
  • Go to sleep
  • For the person who needs additional calories, 
    • Wakeup prior to the sun coming up
    • Put down a big protein shake + greens and potentially flax seeds
    • Go back to sleep

For the person chasing health or perhaps losing weight, Michael recommends a schedule that looks approximately like:

  • Training prior to the sun going down, let’s say 1-2 hours prior
  • Eat some dates, have a protein shake + greens
  • Wait 30-45 minutes
  • Drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in it
  • Eat a big meal
  • Wait 90 or so minutes
  • Eat another small meal
  • Shut down food/water 60 min before going to sleep
  • Go to sleep
  • Stay asleep throughout the night

In both cases, Michael often recommends people do these things:

  • Use digestive enzymes prior to eating to support better digestion - whether or not somebody uses these, though, they should take their time eating - Michael recommends Designs for Health
  • Use a greens supplement and perhaps a reds supplement - Michael recommends Designs for Health
  • Use a protein shake - often whey depending on preference - to get calories and protein in

There are always unique reasons that can tweak Michael’s recommendations, so please get in touch with Michael and/or Big Dawgs if you had additional questions about how to approach Ramadan more effectively for your health and/or fitness!

If you or somebody you know would benefit from Michael’s support, you can reach him through his Instagram DM’s or [email protected] (he prefers Instagram!)


Thanks for reading!

Michael Bann IG

Jim Crowell IG

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