Intermittent Fasting is among the top trends of 2020; however, “Ramadan Fasting” and “Intermittent Fasting” were regular practices in the Prophet Muhammad’s life (SAW). 

The Prophet (SAW) would fast every Monday, Thursday, and the so-called Lunar Days which are the 13th, 14th, 15th or every Lunar Month – these days sum up to roughly one-third of the month.

On regular days, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would practice intermittent fasting which is eating once a day. This practice has been noted to be part of the daily practices of Buddhist Monks and Gurus as well – since its spiritual benefits are uncountable.

The Difference Between “Intermittent Fasting” and “Ramadan Fasting”

Ramadan Fasting 

Ramadan Fasting or Islamic Intermittent Fasting, which is the type of fasting practiced by Muslims in Ramadan – also the same type of fasting practiced by the Prophet Muhammad for ⅓ of the month – entails a major shift from normal eating during the day to exclusively nocturnal eating. 

This practice also comes with changes in sleeping and activity patterns since it is required to have a hydrating light filling meal before sunrise and fast all day until the sun is set.

Changes occur also in the  Circadian Rhythms of hormones such as Cortisol, Insulin, Leptin, Ghrelin, Growth Hormone, Prolactine, Sex Hormone, and Adiponectin. 

These internal changes cause our bodies to experience physical benefits such as:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced chances of developing cancer
  • Decreased oxidative stress 
  • Protects against degenerative disease 
  • Increased fat burning
  • Improved blood sugar control
  • Improved appetite control
  • Improved overall body inflammation
  • Increased sense of overall well being 

As for the mental and spiritual benefits:

  • Eases depression
  • Improves memory and cognition 
  • Increases vitality
  • Reduces attachment to emotional and psychological luggage
  • Cleanses the soul
  • Sparks new desire for God
  • Improves praying and/or meditating experience

The most fascinating aspect of all this is that studies have been showing evidence that not only the quality of food but also the timings we choose to eat have a major impact on the overall well-being of the body and mind.

The more we eat consciously and mindfully by paying attention to when and what we’re eating, the less we let our bodies focus on digestion and instead use the energy to self-heal from other ailments.

Intermittent Fasting

On regular days Prophet Muhammad (SAW) practiced what in modern days is referred to as Intermittent Fasting or Time-Restricted Fasting.

This diet entails eating only for one-third of the day – which is basically the 16:8 Diet.

 The 16:8 Diet is about choosing a 16 hours window to not eat in the day.

Pro-Tip: Experts advise to stop consuming foods in the early evening, as the metabolism slows down since this time.

The most practical windows chosen by most people are:

  • 9am – 5pm
  • 10am – 6pm
  • 12pm – 8pm 

Only within this time-frame, one is allowed to consume their healthy snacks and meals.

What to Eat When on “Intermittent Fasting” Diet

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a  mindful healthy eater, his diet was simple yet nutritious. 

Some of the foods he ate regularly are:

  • Fresh Milk
  • Yogurt 
  • Honey 
  • Dates 
  • Cucumbers 
  • Pumpkin and Gourd in general
  • Watermelon 
  • Figs 
  • Grapes 
  • Olives 
  • Olive oil 
  • Vinegar 
  • Meat (very occasionally)

Today, nutrition specialists are recommending to eat foods focusing primarily on:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Fresh Frozen or Canned in water
  • Whole grains: Quinoa, Oats, Barley 
  • Lean Protein Sources: Poultry, Fish, Beans, Lentils, Tofu, Nuts, Seeds, Cottage Cheese, and Eggs
  • Healthy Fats: Olives, Olive Oil, Coconut and its Derivatives, Avocados, Nuts, and Seeds