News story

Healthy fasting during Ramadan

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, during which time Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours.

What we eat and drink directly affects our health. Fasting during Ramadan can be good for your health if it’s done correctly.When the body is starved of food, it starts to burn fat so that it can make energy. This can lead to weight loss. However, if you fast for too long your body will eventually start breaking down muscle protein for energy, which is unhealthy.

Those observing the fast should have at least two meals a day, the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (Iftar). Meals should be simple and not differ too much from a normal diet. It is important that meals contain items from all the major food groups including:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • bread, other cereals and potatoes
  • meat, fish and alternatives
  • milk and dairy foods
  • foods containing fat and sugar

Breaking a fast with a feast is not recommended and can cause weight gain, regardless of how long a fast has lasted during Ramadan.

There is lots of information available online for health and care professionals and members of the public:

Ramadan guidance for the public from NHS Choices, including meal plans and vital vitamins.

A Ramadan Health Guide from Communities in Action