Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. All over the world, muslims who choose to take part will go without food and water during daylight hours, only eating two meals; suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) and iftar (served after sunset). What you eat for suhoor can really set you up for the rest of the day, so it’s important to make good food choices.


The decision to fast or not is a personal one and it's a good idea to get advice from a health professional about how fasting may affect your health, and how to manage this if you do decide to fast. Islam encourages Muslims to not act in a way that harms the body, which is why Muslims who are unwell, frail, pregnant and breastfeeding are exempt from fasting. Also, fasting has an impact on blood sugar levels, so if you're diabetic it might be higher risk.

Below you'll find tips on what to eat and drink for healthy suhoor. Next, see our guide on how to fast healthily during Ramadan, 10 things you need to know about Ramadan and check out our best healthy Ramadan recipes.

Family gathering to share suhoor

Health benefits of fasting

Although fasting is practiced for religious and cultural reasons, rather than purely for health benefits, it can be useful to know how it affects your body. Dry fasting, such as the method practiced during Ramadan, has numerous benefits which have been highlighted by studies over the past decades. To name just a few:

  • Fasting has been associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and may help lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. However, so far studies have been small.
  • Many people lose some weight, for example, around 1kg during Ramadan. While studies suggest this is usually regained when people get back to their normal eating habits, Ramadan can be a great time to ‘reset’ dietary patterns and to take a healthier approach to eating.
  • Studies have found that fasting during Ramadan could increase levels of serotonin (our ‘happy hormone’) and a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is involved in the production of new nerve cells in the brain.
  • Fasting also triggers a fascinating process called autophagy, which allows the body to break down and reuse old cell parts for cellular repair and regeneration.
  • Studies have also found that fasting can decrease the production of inflammatory molecules in the body.
Ful medames in a bowl with bread and pickles

What to eat and drink for healthy suhoor

The purpose of suhoor is to get nourishment and energy for the day ahead.

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As Ramadan takes place across the globe, the meals and ingredients available vary greatly. This pre-dawn meal should include protein sources, such as eggs, meat, Greek yogurt, cheese, nuts, and healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, ghee/butter, cheese, nuts, seeds. These will maintain steady blood sugar levels and keep you full for longer. You can also include a small amount of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, like oats, brown rice, sourdough bread, or pulses including lentils, beans, chickpeas.

A good example of a suhoor dish to set you up for the day is the traditional Egyptian ful medames – a dish made of mashed fava beans. This is usually served with bread and can be accompanied by vegetables such as cucumber and tomato, yogurt, boiled eggs and tahini. The beans provide protein and fibre and with the carbohydrate from bread, is a great recipe to set you up for a day of fasting.

Steer clear of anything too salty for suhoor as this could leave you feeling thirsty during the day. You should also aim to start the day well hydrated, so include plenty of fluids. Water is a great choice but you can also include tea or coffee, juices, smoothies and other drinks.

Are you observing Ramadan this year? Let us know if we’ve missed anything in the comments…

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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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