UAE cycling sensation Yousif Mirza: How to build up fitness after month of fasting in Ramadan


UAE Team Emirates’ cyclist Yousif Mirza has had a historic year, winning the UAE National Championship, Asian Road Cycling Championship and has being recognised as one of the country’s outstanding sportsmen of the year by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Emirati cycling superstar offers you his top five tips on how to build up fitness and get in great shape after a month away from your usual exercise routines…

  1. Getting your metabolism back on track

“During Ramadan, your metabolism slows down because you are consuming food for only a small portion of the day. To get back to a good fitness level after Ramadan, it’s important to get your metabolism back on track and one of the most effective ways to do this is exercise. If you haven’t been maintaining a regular exercise schedule during Ramadan, you don’t have to shock your body by going into a straining exercise mode. All it takes is 30 minutes of light exercise in the morning to help rejuvenate your body. The morning is a wonderful time to exercise. It helps your body wake up, gets you ready for the day and it’s much cooler than exercising in the evening.”

2. The right foods…

“Eating right is a very important factor in staying healthy and building fitness all year round, but I understand it’s hard to move away from the amazing variety of tasty meals we eat during Iftars and go back to a strict calorie controlled diet. Having 2 – 3 meals per day will help get your body back into a cycle, but it’s important to be eating the right foods. Replace unhealthy foods with healthier alternatives; Instead of frying food, look at grilled or steamed options. You can replace those sugar-filled sweets with fruits and natural yoghurt and, if you find yourself hungry between meals, snack on bananas, cucumbers, carrots, oranges and watermelons instead of chips and candy.”

3…. At the right time

“There is a reason they call it the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast will set you up for what lies ahead. It is known to increases concentration, lower your levels of cholesterol and can help lower your chances of getting diabetes and heart disease! A lighter meal in the early evening is a fantastic way to aid digestion. Try to avoid waiting until after 7pm and never eat just before you go to bed as it is likely to increase your blood sugar levels and impact your sleep cycles. Likewise, plan your training and exercise around a sensible eating routine.”

4. Sleeping

“Sleeping right is a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy body. As a professional cyclist, it’s extremely important that I allow my body time to recover after racing, and it’s the same for anyone who has been fasting over Ramadan. Now that the suhoor and iftar routine has passed, you should get your sleep pattern in back in check. Make sure you are getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you find yourself tired during the day, a 15-25-minute ‘power nap’ can sometimes feel like a night’s sleep, reinvigorating the body and mind.”

5. Replacing Bad Habits

“Ramadan is the perfect time for you to kick bad habits. If you have managed to curb them altogether during Ramadan, well done and keep going! If not, don’t worry as you still have time. Find an activity or exercise to replace your bad habit; cycling is a great one for this as it keeps your body and mind occupied.”

Hope these tips help you recover and return to full fitness.