Planning appropriate sleep, dietary intake, and hydration are important during fasting. Sleep is often delayed, and deep sleep time decreased during Ramadan. More than half of adults sleep less during Ramadan. This may contribute to changes in cognitive function in youth, and it is a major contributor to daytime working difficulties seen in adults during fasting, even more so than thirst or hunger— this can impact academic and work performance. People should avoid unnecessary sleep delays and get as much quality sleep as possible during Ramadan.
A balanced diet with an appropriate amount of calories, vitamins, minerals, and fluids — especially water — is important to prevent muscle breakdown, support physical activity and health, and prevent dehydration.
The following dietary tips are recommended:
- Eat sufficient portions of fruits and vegetables (5-10 servings daily or half the serving plate).
- Make complex carbohydrates the major source of carbohydrate in the diet. Grains are a good carbohydrate source. Whole grains should make up at least half of grain intake because they are more nutritious and slow digestion.
- Eat protein foods daily and choose lower fat options, including fish at least two times a week. Include healthful plant proteins, such as beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Use healthy oils for cooking, including olive, canola, and other polyunsaturated oils. Avoid excessive fat intake, solid fats, and those containing trans fatty acids.
- Include low-fat dairy products in the diet daily, including low-fat and nonfat milk, yogurts, and cheeses.
- Drink sufficient fluids daily to maintain normal hydration, emphasizing water and limiting those that contain sugar and are known diuretics, such as coffee, soda, and black tea.
Following are specific recommendations for foods to consume at the suhoor (predawn) and iftar (postdusk) meals:
- Suhoor should be a moderate-size meal; there is no need to overconsume foods. It should be filling and contain foods that will provide energy for a number of hours. Eating whole grains and protein, fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, and some fat/oil will delay digestion and prolong satiety.
- Iftar traditionally begins with dates, fruits, 100 percent fruit juices, and tea. Have a healthy, balanced dinner in the early evening. There is no need to overeat.
Other general recommendations include:
- Avoid heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates; fried foods; and high-sugar, high-fat foods and pastries.
- Consume plenty of liquid, particularly water, by bedtime to ensure proper hydration During fasting hours when no food or drink is consumed, the body may become mildly dehydrated. When first breaking the fast, drink plenty of fluid and opt for low-fat, water-rich foods, such as soup or yogurt, to replace fluids lost during the day. Drinks with natural sugars like juices or smoothies can provide some energy as well as fluid when breaking the fast. However, it’s best to have these in moderation and to drink mostly water as well as to avoiding too many drinks with added sugars.