The importance of maintaining an appropriate calorie intake post-Iftar
After a long fast, it’s only natural to look forward to delicious food, drinks and often a few treats!
Upon breaking your fast, it is of course important to embrace and enjoy eating and drinking during this spiritual time. It is also important however, to stay mindful of, not only what we are feeding our bodies, but also how much we are feeding our bodies.
The simple science of energy-in and energy-out continues to stand, despite the restricted eating times during Ramadan. This simply means that if you consistently eat more calories than you burn, you will gain fat.
So, how do you know how many calories you should be eating? You can use a simple calorie calculator like this one, which is based on your individual metrics and lifestyle. This will offer some guidance in helping you understand an appropriate calorie intake for you. Once you have an understanding of this, you can plan meals and treats appropriately in order to maintain a healthy weight. Apps like MyFitnessPal can be useful in planning suitable meals, giving valuable insight into how much energy is really on your plate and helping you to stay well-nourished throughout this time.
Upon breaking your fast, taking the time to appreciate your food and eat slowly are great ways to give your stomach a chance to let your brain know that you’re full. Don’t forget, there is plenty of time to eat 3 - 4 well balanced, nourishing meals between dawn and sunrise, so take it slow and enjoy the process.
Hydration is vital for overall health, but also key when it comes to avoiding overindulgence during Ramadan. Since the body will be receiving no fluids during your fast, it is likely that by the time you break your fast, you may be in a state of mild dehydration. If we are not mindful of appropriate re-hydration, this can actually reduce our ability to burn fat and we may also confuse thirst for hunger.
When we are in a healthy, hydrated state, our kidneys usually work to filter our blood. However, when we are dehydrated, our kidneys cannot do this alone and so rely heavily on the liver to help. Our liver is usually busy metabolizing fat, but when it needs to help the dehydrated kidneys, it can no longer burn fat as effectively which may prevent weight loss. Sip warm water and low-sugar drinks regularly, aiming for around 3 litres of fluid during this window. Drinks containing electrolytes can also be effective for rehydration.
During this holy month, it could be a great time to take extra care of your nutrition and wellbeing. Perhaps you could even develop new habits which could help keep you healthy, not only during this time, but all year round.
Below I share a simple and nutritious Iftar recipe, full of fibre, healthy fats, protein and much more.
Katy’s Lovely Lentils, with Roasted Eggplant & a Creamy Tahini Dressing
- 4 eggplants / aubergines
- 2 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil
- 400g of uncooked dry lentils
- 400ml light coconut milk + 400ml water
- 200g frozen edamame beans
- Pomegranate seeds (to sprinkle)
- Salt & pepper
- 4 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 3 tbsp water (to thin, add more for desired consistency)
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 200 C
1) Slice your eggplants in half vertically and use a knife to score the flesh with a criss-cross.
2) Massage your eggplants with the oil and salt and place on a baking tray to roast for 30-40 mins.
3) Meanwhile, rinse your lentils and place in a pan with the coconut milk and water, bring to boil.
4) Allow lentils to simmer, for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.
5) Now add the frozen edamame beans to the lentils and simmer for another 5-8 mins, or until cooked.
5) Season your lentils with salt & pepper.
5) To make your Tahini Dressing, simply whisk or blend all of the ingredients together.
6) Share the lentils out evenly and pop the roasted eggplant on top, drizzle with the tahini dressing and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds – enjoy!