Due to the popular demand we have decided to translate our german article on „Optimale Ernährung und Training während des Ramadans“ into english.
What is Ramadan?
The word Ramadan is Arabic and is derived from the root ramida or arramad, which means „burning heat and dryness“ (especially of the soil). Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims and the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. In it, according to the Islamic view, the Koran was sent down. As one of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan has an important significance for Muslims.
In addition to the spiritual part, the „inner fasting“, the „outer fasting“ in Islam dealt with in this article consists in the fact that the Muslim does not eat and drink anything from the beginning of dawn until sunset. Only after sunset they are allowed to do so.
Ramadan 2018 starts on May 15th and ends on June 14th, 2018. The month of Ramadan moves forward by 10 or 11 days a year each year and gradually passes through all seasons. In the course of his life a Muslim will experience fasting in winter with shorter days as well as longer days of fasting in summer where fasting becomes more difficult. Setting a certain fixed season for fasting would, for some of the followers of Islam, be a lasting advantage in various parts of the world and a permanent disadvantage for others.
Muslims „traveling“ may also make exceptions due to their special physical stress (in former times one was mostly on foot). For athletes this way is allowed at least in away games. Egypt even had a legal opinion (fatwa) made. This came to the conclusion that the team is „on a national mission“ and the players have the Ramadan for this reason, as an exception, not to comply.
For those who are doing Ramadan, here are some tips on how to optimally adapt diet and exercise to this phase:
– Adjust training volume. Not to train ist not the solution. To train with less volume, so to do less total repetitions / sets is the solution. In weight training, e.g. 5 × 5 a good training system to gain strength without physically fatigueing too much.
– Take an amino acids and electrolytes drink for breaking fast. Dehydration is a big problem if you do not drink anything. Even a slight dehydration results in a loss in cognitive and physical performance. Therefore, it makes sense to first take in electrolytes and water to balance the fluidlevels again. In addition, the amino acids take on more important additional tasks such as stoping protein and muscle breakdown. The YPSI AminoElektrolytKomplex can be ordered here.
– Easily digestible food. Easily digestible meals are ideal for fasting break. Ideally, fat and carbohydrates should not be combined, and fiber-rich ones should be dispensed with to enable faster digestion.
– Eat, exercise, eat, sleep. This should be the sequence for a Muslim athlete after sunset on training days.
– Do not get up for breakfast. Since one often goes to bed late during Ramadan and the only chance to eat before dawn on the same day is to do it before dawn, breakfast at this time would interrupt sleep. Instead of interrupting sleep, I recommend to skip breakfast here.
– The training goal is maintenance, not progression. Under the given circumstances, maximum performance can not be achieved. The goal is therefore to maintain your performance throughout Ramadan. After Ramadan, it will be time for further progress in the gym.
– Drink, drink, drink. 1 liter of water per 25 kg body weight is a good daily target. Add 1 liter while exercising. Since the fluid intake takes place only after sunset, more must be drunk in a shorter time. Adding electrolytes aids maintaining optimal hydration.
– On rest days go liquid, solid, liquid, solid meal. Then sleep. Maximum nutrient uptake and hydration are the goal to be optimally prepared for the next day. 8 hours of sleep should also be the goal during Ramadan, if there is a possibility. Ideal for a liquid meal is an AminoElectrolyte drink or a protein shake with frozen raspberries.
Fasting is basically a beneficial way to give some rest to your stomach and intestines and tap stubborn fat reserves. Optimally, however, the body is regularly supplied with protein (in liquid form) to aid hepatic biotransformation (basically to detox). If you are fasting about Ramadan, you should maximize your fluid and protein intake after sunset and stick to the tips above to avoid sacrificing performance and negative effects on your body composition, and then make consistent progress after.
All the Best with optimal nutrition and training during the ramadan!
Picture: The cathedral mosque in Moscow.