Many Muslim athletes will be combining the physical demands of their sport with the rigours of all-day fasting when Ramadhan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, gets underway on 21 August... A pioneering new study by FIFA medical experts suggest that it can be done...
The results, published in the December 2008 "Journal of Sports Sciences", suprised even the experts, since they showed no adverse effects among the fasting players in any of the measured biochemical, nutritional and performances variables. In fact, the physical performances of the fasting players improved slightly during the Ramadhan training sessions.
It was really amazing for us to see these kind of results in what was a very high-level study involving a lot of top international scientist. There is a clear perception among many coaches and sports people that the Ramadhan fast has a negative effect on performance, but there is little scientific evidence to support this suggestion.
On possible explanation for the stability of the players performance levels may lie in the nature of the Ramadhan fast itself, which does not so mush prevent players from eating their normal diets, but rather forces them to simply alter the timing of their meals. The Ramadhan fast (or sawm) stipulates that Muslims may take food or drink only between sunset and sunrise.
This presents absolutely no problem when it comes to health because our body uses nutrients on a 24-hour basis regardless of when exactly we eat or drink. Bt it does mean that players should pay close attention to what they do eat and drink at the permitted times. It is recomended that they get enough sleep and good nutrition during Ramadhan to preserve both their performances and their general health. They shouls also think about taking four or five days to adjust to their new eating routine, similar to the time that athletes should take when adjusting to changes in attitude.
Please click here for a detailed summary of the reports finding from F-MARC ( FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre)