While I previously wrote about some of my top tips for fasting in Ramadan , there is one quite important aspect which I ceased to touch on that is particularly pertinent during an extremely hot and humid summer: hydration.
Not only does the hot weather make it more difficult – but the long summer days means that our window of opportunity for food and water from sunset to sunrise is significantly shortened. Therefore it’s extremely vital to be more mindful of getting enough water and high-quality nourishment to sustain our fasts.
So without further ado, here are my top tips for staying hydrated while you fast:
1. Track Your Water Intake
Keep a labeled water bottle to track your water intake and refill it as necessary to make sure you’re getting the H2O you need. This will help keep you accountable and eliminates the risk of accidental dehydration.
2. Eat Fruits and Vegetables with High Water Content
That means leafy greens, cucumbers, celery, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage among others. Ideal high water fruits include apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and citrus fruits like grapefruit and orange. Including a wide range of water-rich fruits and veggies in your Iftar and Suhoor meals can go a long way to keep you hydrated. Here’s a handy PDF guide to help you out.
If you’d like to tick off some veggies on that list without chowing down on a salad – do what I do and break your fast with a green juice. I make a blend that contains cucumber, celery, lettuce, spinach, parsley, lemon and a green apple along with some ginger – it’s delicious, packed with concentrated nutrients and super hydrating.
Alternatively, have a green smoothie before your suhoor meal – my current favourite recipe is a blend of spinach, pineapple, blueberries and coconut water with a splash of coconut water Kefir for some healthy probiotic bacteria.
3. Coconut Water. Drink it.
I can’t get enough of this stuff – and with good reason too! Coconut water is one of nature’s most refreshing and hydrating drinks. It’s also naturally isotonic and packed with electrolytes, making it a great post-workout drink. And if that weren’t enough, it’s loaded with vital nutrients such as B-complex vitamins, amino acids, vitamin C and minerals such as potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Long story short – drink up. Just make sure you get pure coconut water – none of the thai imported cans packed with sugar and preservatives.
I try my best to use fresh thai young coconuts, but my favourite two packaged brands are Biona Organic (Bahrain readers – you can find this at the Bio Natural Nutrition store opposite Geant in Bahrain Mall) and the Organic Foods and Cafe’s own brand.
4. Add a Pinch of Sea Salt to Your Drinking Water
I know I know – you’re thinking “what?”, but trust me, this little known fact is a Godsend. I picked it up from holistic health coach and wellness expert Muneera Obaidli during her Healthy Fasting Workshop last week, and I must say I’m thoroughly impressed/fascinated. Muneera explained that sea salt contains over 84 minerals and nutrients, and that by adding a pinch to your drinking water, it can help administer these minerals and nutrients as well as quench your thirst for longer because the mineral content will retain more of the water within your body. Another attendee at the workshop asked about water retention which is commonly caused by overusing table salt, and she explained that the two have completely opposite effects and that table salt should of course be avoided at all costs.
The real question is – does it work? I’m glad to say it does – I woke up yesterday and today feeling a little peckish – but not the slightest bit thirsty, when usually I’m clamouring for a glass of water the second I get up.
5. Tone Down the Cardio
I’m definitely an advocate of staying active during Ramadan, but you have to be realistic and accept the fact that your body may not be able to keep up with your training and exercise the same way it does on a normal day. If you’re planning a workout that does include cardio, reduce the intensity (HIIT or interval training is not advised) or the duration or both. Also be mindful of your timing – plan your workout either right before Iftar or fit it in afterwards. Working out early in the day will only deplete your energy and leave you feeling exhausted and dehydrated if you can’t refuel because you’re fasting.
And that’s a wrap! What are your favourite ways to combat the hot weather/dehydration when fasting?