During the holy month of Ramadhan, Muslims are required to abstain not only from eating and drinking, but also from oral medications and intravenous fluids from dawn till sunset. For Muslim atheletes, training or competing without consuming food and fluids can be challenging and may compromise their performance. However, with the right nutrition strategies, they can still get the most out of their training.
Nutrition Strategies During Ramadhan Fasting
Have Sahur (the last meal) as close as possible to Imsak (before the call or Azan of the morning prayer).
Have a balanced meal along with fluids during Sahur to fuel the day’s activities.
Include traditional food which are good sources of carbohydrates (eg: dates) and high-quality protein (eg: milk) as a recovery snack after exercise which is scheduled just prior to Iftar (the break of the fast).
Take advantage of the opportunity to fuel and hydrate during exercise that is done after Iftar. Consume easy-to-digest food such as sports gels and bars as well as sports drinks. These food and drinks provide a compact form of nutrition that is easy to consume.
Assess hydration levels by monitoring changes in body mass and the color (as well as quantity) of urine which is produced first thing in the morning. Monitor body mass changes pre- and post-exercise session to determine the quantity of fluid that needs to be replaced.
Replace salt by drinking during meals or by drinking oral rehydration solutions that contain salt. This aids rehydration and helps retain fluid by minimising toilet visits during the night.
General recommendations can be made but should be personalised for each athlete. Remember to consult a sports dietitian/nutritionist for an individualised meal plan for your sport or event.
Fasting and recovery from exercise. Louise Burke. Br J Sports Med 2010;44:502-508
Fasting and sport:an introduction. R J Maughan. Br J Sports Med June 2010;44:473-475