How to fast healthily during Ramadan

By Good Food team

Our experts outline the benefits of fasting during Ramadan, with tips on how to avoid headaches and energy crashes. Plus, find healthy meal tips for breaking your fast

During the holy month of Ramadan, many Muslims across the world fast during daylight hours. To make sure you feel your best while going without anything to eat and drink, it's important to be mindful about what you consume both before and after fasting.

The key to suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, is to build up your energy reserves with non-refined carbohydrates. Read our guide on what to eat and drink for healthy suhoor. Later, when breaking the fast at iftar, it's important to include plenty of filling but still wholesome foods – and to avoid too much salt.

Below, you'll find tips on how to fast healthily, next check out healthy Ramadan recipes and read 10 things you need to know about Ramadan. To celebrate the end of Ramadan, make a pleasing feast with our Eid recipes

Health issues to be aware of when fasting

Fasting in Ramadan poses no danger to healthy people, however it may cause harm to people with existing health conditions. Since fasting affects blood sugar levels, it's be especially risky for people with diabetes. This is why it’s important that Muslims who have been diagnosed with any type of health condition speak to their GP before Ramadan starts.

Some people might experience fatigue, headaches and dizziness during the day. This is usually the case for people who do not wake up for the pre-dawn meal (suhoor). Having a healthy diet and lifestyle is important all year round, but even more so during Ramadan to ensure a good fasting experience.

How to set yourself up for the day during Ramadan

It's also good to bear in mind that fasting for long hours without consuming fluids can lead to dehydration. To avoid this, it's essential to drink plenty of water throughout the night.

A common mistake that people make is missing out on suhoor – the pre-dawn meal – in the hope to get more sleep. A balanced and nourishing suhoor will help to avoid energy slumps, cravings, mood swings and headaches during the day.

This pre-dawn meal should include a balance of protein, healthy fats and slow-release carbohydrates. This combination will maintain steady blood sugar levels and keep you full for longer.

Other suhoor meal ideas include:

Read our guide on what to eat a drink for suhoor. [LINK]

What to eat when breaking your fast

At iftar, when you break your fast, you need to rehydrate and refuel. A very traditional way to break fast is with dates and water or milk, and this is an ideal way to provide some natural sugar, nutrients and fluid. Soup is very popular for iftar in many parts of the Muslim world, and this is a great choice as it provides fluid and energy and can contain a variety of vegetables, pulses and grains. In south Asian cultures people often start their iftar with fresh fruit and this is also a good way to provide your body with some natural sugars for energy as well as the water that fruit contains.

The iftar meal during Ramadan can be a celebratory event, with people sometimes holding big get-togethers with family and friends. But it’s important to remember that over-eating rich or fatty foods will likely leave you feeling tired and sluggish and won’t benefit your health or your spiritual efforts.

Other ways to stay healthy during Ramadan

Looking after yourself during Ramadan goes beyond just nutrition and hydration. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and is especially important during Ramadan, since your sleeping pattern is disrupted as you wake up to eat before sunrise and stay up late to perform prayers. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule throughout the month and avoiding screen use one hour before bedtime to get more restorative sleep.

Engaging in light physical activity during the day is also a great way to maintain energy, improve circulation and lymphatic flow, which will help you reap all the benefits of fasting. Perhaps go for walks, do some stretching or other light exercise to keep your body moving.

Those who usually drink tea or coffee may experience headaches and tiredness during the day due to caffeine withdrawal, but this usually eases after a week or so as your body adapts.

Ultimately, it’s important to pay attention to your body's signals and adjust your activities and routines accordingly. Rest when you feel tired, and don't push yourself beyond your limits, especially during fasting hours.

Raihane Palagi is a nutritional therapist who specialises in women’s health. She has worked with over 150 women over the past five years having graduated from the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) in 2018. She is the author of ‘The Best Month of the Year ebook where she gives guidance on how to spend a healthy Ramadan. Find out more about her work on her website Tulsi Nutrition.  

Bridget Benelam is nutrition communications manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, where she has worked since 2006. She trained in nutrition at Kings College London and has also worked at the Food Standards Agency. 

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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2024-02-25T04:48:43Z dg43tfdfdgfd