Can you feel the excitement in the air? Yes!! Ramadan has come around once more. For many people, there is the psychological fear that by not eating or drinking during the day, they will starve to death. But this is very unlikely, almost impossible, to happen to someone during Ramadan. People make the mistake of overeating in Ramadan and instead of feeling cleansed, renewed and lighter, leave Ramadan needing new clothes because of the extra weight they’ve gained.
No matter how much you eat for Suhoor, after 8 hours your stomach will have finished digesting the food.
After about three hours into your fast, the body will use stored forms of energy to supply its needs. The three forms available are glycogen, fat and protein. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscle. Glycogen stored in muscles is only available to that muscle. For example, glycogen stored in the biceps is not available for the triceps or the calves. On the other hand, glycogen from the liver is available to any blood cells. In a normal state, the body uses glycogen as its main form of energy.
After digestion is completed, the liver begins releasing its stored glycogen to the body for running the brain and fuelling your body. Muscle glycogen is also depleted during a fast to fuel daily activity. Muscle glycogen falls by 50% over 24-hours, even without exercise. It takes about 8-10 hours for your body to deplete its liver glycogen store.
When glycogen is depleted, the body switches to using protein (which is made up of amino acids) and converts it into glucose to fuel the body. At this early stage, the body is not using muscle proteins as the main source of energy.
At around the 12-18 hour mark, the body will start using fat as the energy source. It is also at the 18-hour stage that your body uses muscle protein to turn into glucose stores.
Only when the fat stores are depleted, over a longer period (a few months) of fasting, will the body turn to breaking down muscle to use protein as a source of energy. (Starving refers to when your body uses protein as an energy source)
As our fasts stop at sunset, we eat and drink and our body goes back to using glycogen as the main energy source. Since we replenish our body, there is a gentle transition from using fat to glycogen as energy. It is widely believed that toxins are held in fat cells. When the body uses fat as the main source of energy, we experience detoxification and we lose weight.
Now of course, these are not the only two benefits of fasting during Ramadan, but are the two that I wish to highlight. If Ramadan is the only time of the year you fast, then now’s a good time release some of those toxins.
In case you’re still unsure whether you want to detoxify your body, please see above for a few reasons why you should detox.
By sticking to a mainly plant-based, alkaline diet, you can detoxify, lose weight and feel great. I suggest plant-based diets over high meat or fish diets because there are too many unknowns with regards to where your meat comes from today. It is very likely that the meat you eat has been fed Genetically Modified corn, soy or alfalfa and led a very depressing existence. Unless you know the meat is organic and free-range, it is more beneficial to reduce your meat intake.
Just a disclaimer, as always, consult with your medical doctor or physician before making any changes to your diet. This ensures the changes are suitable for you and your current state of health.