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HOW TO RECONCILE SPORTS AND RAMADAN ?

At first glance, exercising during Ramadan may seem adventurous. But with a few precautions, religious practice and sports are compatible.

sport and Ramadan

Not eating and drinking from sun up to sun down is a challenge for sportspeople who observe Ramadan.

Lætitia Knopik, sports dietitian and nutritionist explains how sports and Ramadan can be practised together.

Azeddine and Walid – who both fast – explain what this period means for their sporting life.

SPORT AND RAMADAN :INTERVIEW WITH LAETITIA KNOPIK, DIETITIAN AND NUTRITIONIST

To find out more about sports management during Ramadan, we spoke to Lætitia Knopik, sport dietitian and nutritionist.

What are the potential risks of practising sports during the Ramadan fast?

Lætitia Knopik: The lack of hydration can be a real problem for sportspeople in the event of high temperatures and intense exercise. Indeed, although the body compensates, dehydration can happen quickly and cause symptoms such as cramps and/or digestive problems.~The more serious the dehydration, the worse the effect on strength and endurance activities.~It also has an impact on the cardiovascular system: in a warm climate and without any hydration during exercise, the risk of hyperthermia increases, and may lead to heatstroke.

~Are there any other physiological changes to the body?~~L. K: Lack of energy, with the depletion of glycogen stores, is frequent during exercise. This can have an effect on the hormonal system and particularly the maintenance of blood sugar levels (glycemia). Hypoglycemia, the reduction of the amount of glucose in the blood causes fatigue, and is often felt at the end of the day.~~Moreover, meals are eaten at sunset (iftar) and before sunrise (sahoor). This disrupts the sleep/waking cycle. As days pass, the effects of fatigue increase, increasing the risk of injury.

 

So, how can you continue exercising during Ramadan?

L. K: It is important to realise that during this period, performance should not be the goal. 

For elite sports people who have competitions, moving the fasting period is one solution. For sports people who exercise almost every day, I recommend reducing the intensity of the sessions, and their frequency to increase the recovery period. 

No matter what, it is essential to listen to your body and if necessary, rest for several days.

Training sessions should either be early in the morning or late at night, depending on the time you have, following the same principles as the rest of the yea.. Even though intensity is lower, stretching should not be overlooked as they help recovery and prevent injury.~If you train in the morning, it is best to take a small and digestible snack before exercise and just after, finish with a generous breakfast, a source of carbs protein, fats and fruit. All of that before the sun rises. This meal will cover the nutritional needs of the day.

If you train in the evening, do not overdo it, to avoid expending muscle protein due to the lack of glycogen. The result will be increasingly fragile tissues, with increased risks of injury (tendinitis, pulled or torn muscles).

 

What advice would you give to sportspeople who fast during Ramadan?~ 

L. K: As soon as you break fast, you should hydrate yourself as best you can, in small doses. Do the same in the morning before sunrise.~If possible, avoid high density foods such as sweets, cakes, and products with bad quality fats. You will soon be full but the energy provided will be quickly burned.

sport and ramadan
sport and ramadan

INTERVIEW WITH TWO SPORTS PEOPLE WHO FAST

Azeddine, 28, football player and crosstrainer, and Walid, 26, football player, tell us how they reconcile Ramadan with sports.

Do you train in the same way (duration, frequency, intensity?

Azeddine : Yes, exactly the same.

Walid: The duration and frequency are identical but training is less intense.

 

To have energy during the day, how does your diet change during this period?

Azeddine: Yes, meals are not the same, but not really because of exercise, it is cultural.

Walid: our diet obviously changes, I eat and drink far more in the evening.

 

Do you have "tips" to keep your energy levels up during this period?

Azeddine: No, I don't have any particularly tips. Because nights are shorter, I try to nap in the afternoon, when I can.

Walid : I manage my effort more carefully.

 

During Ramadan, do you suffer more when exercising?

Azeddine: Not really, I just feel very thirsty after the sessions, and it gradually disappears.

Walid: Yes, much more! I am quickly tired and I often feel dizzy.

 

Does sport remain a pleasure during Ramadan?

Azeddine: Yes, completely, as I don't feel that Ramadan influences my sporting performances, so I continue exercising at the same pace and with as much pleasure!

Walid: Of course, I love playing football, it will always be a pleasure!

It is efficient to eat a balanced diet, choosing good sources of proteins, lipids, carbs spread out over two or three meals depending on your habits during this period. If your schedule permits, have daily recovery naps.