Learn tips on how to safely fast this Ramadan.
Learn tips on how to safely fast this Ramadan.

The healthy way to fast during Ramadan



With long days and the searing heat of the summer, those fasting this Ramadan will need to take special precautions to ensure they remain healthy throughout the holy month.

The daily fasting period – up to 15 hours – will be the longest in 32 years and no doubt will test strength and determination, but with the right management – including diet, sleep and exercise – our bodies needn’t suffer. In fact, it’s an opportunity to turn our diets and bad eating habits around and even lose a few kilograms.

Hala Abu Taha, dietitian for The American Surgecenter medical facility in Abu Dhabi, says that the way the body reacts to the lack of food and water depends on the length of the fast. “The body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorption of nutrients from the food. In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy. During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the stores of glucose run out, fat becomes the next store source of energy for the body,” Taha says.

Dr Farhana bin Lootah, an internal medicine specialist from the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, says that during this period it is even possible to lose weight. “When the body has less food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. The use of fat for energy helps weight loss,” she says. “It preserves the muscles and eventually reduces your cholesterol level. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure. However, if one does eat more than normal during Ramadan, this can have adverse effects, including weight gain through overeating when breaking the fast. The key is to make sure you eat in moderation. Indeed, smaller amounts more frequently can be more comfortable all round.”

It is also vital that enough water – at least two litres – is consumed through the non-fasting hours to maintain balanced hydration.

“Water is very important, and should ideally be the main fluid you use to replenish your thirst during Ramadan,” bin Lootah says. “Unfortunately though, some people do not drink enough and have only small amounts at iftar and then forget to drink water until the next day. Water also plays a significant role in weight loss and maintenance because it helps to get rid of toxins and reduce the feeling of hunger.

“Try not to drink large quantities of water all at once, or a lot during a meal. Instead, drink water between your meals and drink small quantities of water throughout the Ramadan nights. In addition to water, try fresh fruit or vegetable juices rather than sweetened ones.”

Because food and fluid intake is restricted during the day, it is important to make sure that everything you consume counts, from choosing the right foods at iftar to a snack and drink before sunrise for suhoor.

“Iftar should always start with a source of simple sugar to compensate for energy lost during the long fasting hours and nothing beats dates for that,” Taha says. “Along with dates, a cup of laban could be consumed as a good source of minerals and protein for the body. A cup of warm, non-creamy soup helps the stomach to receive food with better digestion and less discomfort.”

She recommends leaving a 10-minute break for the stomach to start working before starting on the main meal. Ideally, this should include sources of lean protein, such as grilled fish or chicken, low-glycemic carbohydrates, such as brown rice or boiled sweet potatoes, and vegetables, raw or cooked, with a little oil.

Although it may be tempting to reward the day’s abstinence with sugary, fatty and deep-fried dishes, Taha warns against indulging in the wrong types of food. “It’s common in Ramadan to enjoy certain types of appetisers, such as samosas or kibosh. However, having them in a lighter version, that is baked not fried, will guarantee less after-meal discomfort and less calorie intake.”

Because the body is lacking energy, we often crave sugary treats that give an almost instant hit. But, again, Taha suggests choosing wisely to ensure our bodies get nutrients and fibre, rather than empty calories. She suggests consuming fruit and limiting the number of Ramadan desserts. She says that having Ramadan sweets such as katayef could be healthy if it’s prepared in a healthy way, such as baked instead of fried, and omitting or adding just a small amount of syrup, rather than dipping.

While it is tempting to sleep, waking before dawn for suhoor is also an important step in maintaining health during Ramadan. “People tend to skip this meal, ignoring the fact that our body needs a source of energy to maintain production levels during the day,” Taha explains. “A perfect suhoor meal will consist of complex carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat bread with protein, boiled eggs, turkey slices or white cheese. What could make a suhoor meal even healthier is a cup of low-fat milk or laban and a bowl of freshly cut vegetables.”

When it comes to exercise, bin Lootah suggests moderate exercise just before breaking your fast, before bedtime and again before suhoor. “It will be quite warm during Ramadan this year and outdoor exercise might not always be the best option, so try climbing the stairs. Start slowly and gradually with two flights at a time and refrain from pushing yourself too hard during the first few days. Thirty minutes divided during the day is as beneficial.

“Of course, after the sun sets and just before dawn breaks, a short but brisk walk for at least 10 minutes is a good practice to adopt during Ramadan. If you could walk three times a day for 10 minutes each time, this would be very good.”

Another helpful tip is to park your car farther away from your destination, or enjoy a walk around the mall.

Friday’s fixture

6.15pm: Al Wahda v Hatta

6.15pm: Al Dhafra v Ajman

9pm: Al Wasl v Baniyas

9pm: Fujairah v Sharjah

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Mountain Boy

Director: Zainab Shaheen

Starring: Naser Al Messabi

Rating: 3/5

The past Palme d'Or winners

2018 Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda

2017 The Square, Ruben Ostlund

2016 I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach

2015 DheepanJacques Audiard

2014 Winter Sleep (Kış Uykusu), Nuri Bilge Ceylan

2013 Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adèle: Chapitres 1 et 2), Abdellatif Kechiche, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux

2012 Amour, Michael Haneke

2011 The Tree of LifeTerrence Malick

2010 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Lung Bunmi Raluek Chat), Apichatpong Weerasethakul

2009 The White Ribbon (Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte), Michael Haneke

2008 The Class (Entre les murs), Laurent Cantet

THREE

Director: Nayla Al Khaja

Starring: Jefferson Hall, Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Saud Alzarooni

Rating: 3.5/5

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Company name: Play:Date

Launched: March 2017 on UAE Mother’s Day

Founder: Shamim Kassibawi

Based: Dubai with operations in the UAE and US

Sector: Tech 

Size: 20 employees

Stage of funding: Seed

Investors: Three founders (two silent co-founders) and one venture capital fund

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

SPEC SHEET: NOTHING PHONE (2a)

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Platform: Android 14, Nothing OS 2.5

Main camera: Dual 50MP main, f/1.88 + 50MP ultra-wide, f/2.2; OIS, EIS, auto-focus, ultra XDR, night mode

Main camera video: 4K @ 30fps, full-HD @ 60fps; slo-mo full-HD at 120fps

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In the box: Nothing Phone (2a), USB-C-to-USB-C cable, pre-applied screen protector, SIM tray ejector tool

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SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
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Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
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UAE Team Emirates

Valerio Conti (ITA)
Alessandro Covi (ITA)
Joe Dombrowski (USA)
Davide Formolo (ITA)
Fernando Gaviria (COL)
Sebastian Molano (COL)
Maximiliano Richeze (ARG)
Diego Ulissi (ITAS)

Other simple ideas for sushi rice dishes

Cheat’s nigiri 
This is easier to make than sushi rolls. With damp hands, form the cooled rice into small tablet shapes. Place slices of fresh, raw salmon, mackerel or trout (or smoked salmon) lightly touched with wasabi, then press, wasabi side-down, onto the rice. Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger.

Easy omurice
This fusion dish combines Asian fried rice with a western omelette. To make, fry cooked and cooled sushi rice with chopped vegetables such as carrot and onion and lashings of sweet-tangy ketchup, then wrap in a soft egg omelette.

Deconstructed sushi salad platter 
This makes a great, fuss-free sharing meal. Arrange sushi rice on a platter or board, then fill the space with all your favourite sushi ingredients (edamame beans, cooked prawns or tuna, tempura veggies, pickled ginger and chilli tofu), with a dressing or dipping sauce on the side.

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

MATCH INFO

UAE Division 1

Abu Dhabi Harlequins 12-24 Abu Dhabi Saracens

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

THE SPECS

Aston Martin Rapide AMR

Engine: 6.0-litre V12

Transmission: Touchtronic III eight-speed automatic

Power: 595bhp

Torque: 630Nm

Price: Dh999,563

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

THE SPECS

GMC Sierra Denali 1500

Engine: 6.2-litre V8

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Power: 420hp

Torque: 623Nm

Price: Dh232,500

The specs

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder
Transmission: CVT
Power: 119bhp
Torque: 145Nm
Price: Dh,89,900 ($24,230)
On sale: now

Hamilton’s 2017

Australia - 2nd; China - 1st; Bahrain - 2nd; Russia - 4th; Spain - 1st; Monaco - 7th; Canada - 1st; Azerbaijan - 5th; Austria - 4th; Britain - 1st; Hungary - 4th; Belgium - 1st; Italy - 1st; Singapore - 1st; Malaysia - 2nd; Japan - 1st; United States - 1st; Mexico - 9th

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
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Gremio 1 Pachuca 0

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Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
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Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

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